Local organization blinded by its own light
Recently, questions have been raised by local citizens concerned by the operation and behavior of the Cowichan Valley Branch of the Mental Health Association. This organization has responded with its CAO Ms. Brunet writing very critical reviews of their comments. If Ms. Brunet had expended that effort by encouraging or inviting these people to come and get information and have a more complete and full knowledge of their concerns then she might have accomplished something.
My comment was about the effect that one of the organization’s projects, the Warmland Shelter, has on our community and its residents. The situation I spoke to was and is an ongoing issue and has been for about two years now. It is well known and the municipality has spent a lot of tax dollars trying to solve it. The project management at this location chose by appearances to undermine every effort of police and bylaw and the municipality to correct this problem and remove the overflow of street people from this location. It encouraged people to stay here.
Residents of our area saw fences put up to stop tenting and endured the filth and smell of this situation. No one from Mental Health CVB ever came here and spoke with residents they so harshly affected.
The people on the street took residence in Warmland courtyard and on the sidewalks and overran the area with people, piles of filthy luggage and dirty abandoned clothing. Food paper wrappers and discarded garbage were everywhere. The smell from their urine and excrement was overwhelming — but Mental Health CVB never came and spoke to this issue. The municipality took away many bins labeled “hazardous material” in their cleanups due to needles and drug paraphernalia.
Seniors comprise about 80 per cent of the 800 families in this area and they were frightened to walk on the street. Vacant lots were fenced off to stop more camping. Crime rates went up and local school children were told to avoid Lewis Street. Needles and drug paraphernalia were everywhere.
Today and during this pandemic the observations by people living here is that these people are still encouraged to remain here by this shelter and we are told it is the pandemic and they have to feed them. No one by my observation obeys distance rules at this location. Have other locations to feed these people not been considered? Seniors are trapped, being too frightened of this ongoing street population to go out. The ambulance centre on this street corner is supposed to go help sick and injured people, yet we are told by the health people if you have been in a contaminated area do not go out, isolate, so what kind of consideration for our community is this?
Our seniors are traumatized and frightened to a point of needing mental health help ourselves and who knows what condition we will be in if this situation does not stop. If this is the purpose and direction of this organization and it has no concerns for our community then maybe more of us should be questioning its operation. This shelter was, by appearances, never designed to handle this many people and yes, it is during the pandemic, but let’s not fool ourselves, it was like this long before this pandemic came along.
Maybe if Ms Brunet is what she asserts she can communicate with the housing group who this paper says has funding for these people to be housed and she can get them to prioritize the people outside this shelter and then have the town sanitize the area with disinfectant so the people here can have their lives back. Oh I am disgruntled Ms Brunet, but the band you speak of includes over 800 families in our area. I do not speak misinformation and I would invite you to come here and walk a mile in our shoes. I am available and can be reached.