Problems on Lewis Street are extreme

The problem is the accumulation of street people and junkies on Lewis Street

Problems on Lewis Street are extreme

Recently articles have been written and stories spun about Lewis Street in North Cowichan. The editorials do not portray the reality of the situation on Lewis Street nor the ramifications for the people who live here.

The problem is the accumulation of street people and junkies on Lewis Street, encouraged by Warmland House, and the lack of any decisive action by the police or the Municipality of North Cowichan.

The drop in drug centre set up for junkies to shoot up was trashed by them and they came to hide and blend in with the homeless street people on Lewis Street. This situation endangered everyone using or living on Lewis Street and the apparent over usage of Warmland did not help the situation.

Sidewalks and the north side of our street are filled with tents, people and shacks. Great piles of old clothes and belongings are everywhere. Garbage abounds from food and human waste. Carts and wagons and bicycles and bicycle parts are everywhere.

People cannot walk down our street without having to go onto the road for people sitting on the sidewalk smoking up or shooting up. People have been threatened and harrassed by these people. We have had an infestation of rats from Warmland allowing the people to pile huge mounds of garbage bags and suitcases in their entrance courtyard. This garbage was, by the apparent recognition of this rat problem, ordered out by Warmland and overnight our street was again piled high with dirty junk.

On Tuesday, Oct. 29 the police and bylaw showed up with a garbage bin and a plan. I was told by Martin the head of the bylaw department for North Cowichan, whom I have talked to many times on this situation, that our troubles were over, that all the people and garbage would be gone by nightfall.

The police and bylaw took all grocery carts people were transporting their worldly possessions in and dumped their belongings on the street. The people took what they could carry and the rest went into the dumpster. Someone set it on fire and it was extinguished.

That night at five o’clock all police, bylaw and security people were gone and the people there still stayed and more retuned and a tent city was again. I personally watched overnight and saw the druggies doing their thing. Drug dealers selling and people shooting up and doing pot bought at the newly opened pot store with their welfare money. At night the parking lot behind our building was infiltrated with these people trying door handles on cars and looking into cars for saleable items.

The issue here is that the town is responsible for the safety of the people on Lewis Street and we pay tax for this service. The rats, threats and pillage of our property is secondary. The apartment buildings in our area hold close to 800 families and seniors do not feel safe and in fact are not safe on this street.

Students at nearby schools are told not to use Lewis Street to go to lunch at McDonald’s. Apartment buildings have had to add extra security strips to doors and one place replaced its fences with taller ones.

A bylaw officer I spoke to was wearing a bullet proof vest, as he put it, for his protection. Wow, what about the citizens here, are we chopped meat? Does our health, welfare and safety not matter to this council?

It has every appearance that the police and municipality are using the thousands of complaints from this area as a bartering point to get more money from the province. After paying taxes for our protections we hear this council authorize $20,000 for a joint effort of bylaw and police and rent for an office for them and of course an additional police officer on the payroll.

A month or so ago when this money was announced the street was cleaned out and it lasted 72 hours and it was again as normal, tent city. This proved this can be done anytime the council wants.

During this time all patrols of bylaw and police and security ceased at five o’clock and were nonexistent. On weekends from Friday at five till Monday at 10 a.m. it was open season on residents. A pronounced curfew for residents.

Another announcement of more money spent to hire a security company to protect businesses on the highway from the Silver Bridge to Beverly Street. Again what about the people on Lewis Street area?

This is a story often seen in the political arena and when asked, town officials and police allude to great things going on behind the scenes all of which are secret.

There is absolutely no communication with the public who are complaining their lives are in danger and their health and homes are at risk, NONE!

The articles in the paper have the appearance of being dictated by the municipality and do lip service to the situation only.

Let’s have some real an continuing action by the town 24/7 and let this action speak for itself!

Larry Woodruff

North Cowichan

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