BC Health information lacks credibility for Lewis Street residents

Residents of our street cannot walk up the sidewalks

BC Health information lacks credibility for Lewis Street residents

In our area here in North Cowichan in the Lewis Street/York Road Area BC Health has lost all creditability with the residents.

In the past year alone we have had, because of the Warmland shelter a great accumulation of street people. Most of these people are drug dependent people and our area has had higher than normal crime rates and danger to citizens (mostly seniors). The North Cowichan bylaw erected a fence along the north side of Lewis Street last summer to prohibit camping, tents and filth. This fence stopped at the east end of the Warmland property. It did clear the area along Lewis Street but the people moved to the area in front of Warmland and the sidewalks on the south side of Lewis beside a Health Department ambulance building. They also occupied parking lots and driveways and we were infested with filth, garbage and human feces. We then saw rats in the huge mounds of luggage and dirty clothing everywhere. The town of North Cowichan three times cleaned up the area, taking away huge containers of garbage labelled “hazardous materials” because of needles and drug paraphernalia.

Now along comes COVID-19 and the Health Department’s daily warnings on TV. Residents of our street cannot walk up the sidewalks to York Road to go to the stores in downtown without stepping over people and disobeying the distancing rules set out by the Health ministry. People with needles hanging out of their arms are lying on the sidewalks or rolled up in blankets sleeping everywhere, great piles of luggage, garbage bags and bikes are everywhere. People openly urinate on the street. The area smells like a cesspool and in recent days the rats have been seen again.

The staff at this shelter does not obey the distance rules and they may be in great danger like the rest of the residents for we have no knowledge if these people carry COVID-19 or other diseases. The people left here now after the many clearings by the bylaw people are the hard core people and are the same hard core people who have survived all clearings. They are where they want to be and know how to evade attempts to remove them. The shelter is now feeding them from a cart in their shipping receiving area and do not attempt distancing.

Now we hear that the Health Ministry or Mental Health Ministry is going to move more of these people to our area by moving the shoot-up centre, or its disguised name, from Trunk Road to York Road across from this shelter and the ambulance centre. Too many complaints in every area they have put it, so move it here.

What about the 800 families in this area, mostly seniors? So much for our “most vulnerable” and the promises of our government to look after us (yes I am a senior). We are denied our safety and health protections because no one wants to deal with these people. We are in our own jail created by this situation, we cannot walk to stores unless going two long blocks out of our way, too far for most to walk. If we drive we stand the chance of hitting one of these people or running over them, for they lay in the streets. People have been threatened and assaulted by these people. This is a safety issue as well as a health issue — no different than Vancouver or Victoria — a great one for everyone living here. I would invite Dr. Bonnie [Henry] to come walk a mile in our shoes. This is causing a lot of seniors a great deal of mental stress and a lot of people cannot sleep or go out for fear of catching something or being assaulted. Now we hear the government is bringing more to our area. Really? We haven’t suffered enough?

We would move from our once beautiful part of town but most rents in this area have exceeded our capabilities on a pension so we are trapped.

Plainly, how can anything this government or health or mental health says be believed? It won’t say if these people were tested, yet say they are “most vunerable”. They create all kinds of problems for seniors in our area, they hide behind supposed privacy laws so not saying where hot spots may be so we can avoid them. They contradict themselves and refuse to answer questions, so how do we believe anything they say?

With all this in our area and no light at the end of the tunnel and all the danger and stress it is causing residents here, I guess we will need mental health councilling if we live through this deliberate attack on our safety and well being.

Larry Woodruff

Lewis Street, North Cowichan

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