North Cowichan, which has its share of problems with issues related to homelessness and addictions, is sending a letter to government ministries asking for assistance. Pictured is RCMP and North Cowichan bylaw officers clearing out a homeless camp on Lewis Street in Duncan last year. (File photo)

North Cowichan to outline community crisis to provincial ministries

Initiative part of campaign by local leadership to highlight regional concerns

North Cowichan wants to provide as comprehensive a picture as possible to the province of the needs in the municipality regarding homelessness and addictions.

At the council meeting on March 4, council members discussed the essence of the letter that Mayor Al Siebring will send to 10 provincial ministries outlining the many challenges the municipality is facing with homeless and addiction issues, what it is doing in its efforts to deal with them, and what North Cowichan believes the government should be doing to assist.

Siebring pointed out that, unlike many other communities in B.C. that are facing similar issues, North Cowichan and other local governments in the Cowichan Valley operate under a different model.

“Others just want them moved away somewhere else, but we’re saying ‘no’ to that and we’re trying to deal with the issues here, and with more than just band-aids,” he said.

“I don’t buy into harm reduction for its own sake. Harm reduction focuses on just saving lives, but for what? Are we saving them just to overdose again? Let’s help move them into something better.”

The Cowichan Leadership Group, which includes the heads of local governments, school board, MLA Sonia Furstenau, MP Alistair MacGregor, and RCMP and health authorities, has already written to 10 separate provincial ministries seeking urgent funding and support for escalating addictions and housing challenges in the Valley.

Each of the members of the CLG intend to send follow-up letters to each of the ministries — which include the Ministry Health, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions — outlining the specific areas in which they are being impacted by homelessness and addictions.

Coun. Rob Douglas suggested that one issue that should be highlighted in North Cowichan’s letter to the ministries is the fact that some of the recent tax increases in the municipality are related to initiatives that deal with homelessness and addictions.

Social housing and addictions are traditionally the jurisdiction of senior levels of government, and local governments have been complaining about senior governments downloading these responsibilities to the local level for some time.

Coun. Tek Manhas said he would like to see quotes from business people in North Cowichan in the letter stating how they are impacted.

“I think it would be a powerful addition to the letter for the business people to talk about the ongoing thefts, and the fact that many of their workers are often afraid to leave work at the end of their shifts and need to be escorted to their cars,” he said.

Coun. Rosalie Sawrie suggested that adding quotes from some of the people on the streets in the letter regarding how much trouble it is to find decent housing and drug treatment programs might be helpful.

Coun. Kate Marsh added that information from the medical community on the costs of treating people with addictions should also be in the letter.

The CLG invited Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy to visit the Cowichan Valley in October to see first-hand the problems the Valley is facing.

Following that meeting, a request was presented for provincial funding for temporary treatment facilities and a safe drug supply pilot in Cowichan.

That request was denied in December.

municipal politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Some Cowichan schools to reopen for children of essential-services workers

Cowichan Valley will open 8 elementary schools this week

Residents urged to stay close to home over the holiday weekend

Time to be extra vigilant during the COVID-19 crisis

Vandekamp moving on from Cowichan Capitals

Head coach returns to AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game developed by Crofton family just the remedy for filling time at home

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Long list of events disrupted by COVID-19 around the community

Challenging situation affecting fundraisers, entertainment, sports and more

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Some Cowichan schools to reopen for children of essential-services workers

Cowichan Valley will open 8 elementary schools this week

RCMP call on kids to name latest foal recruits

The baby horses names are to start with the letter ‘S’

Physiotherapists turn to technology to reach patients during COVID-19

Just because services, jobs, and socializing have been put on hold, it… Continue reading

As Canadians return home amid pandemic, border crossings dip to just 5% of usual traffic

Non-commercial land crossing dipped by 95%, air travel dropped by 96 per cent, according to the CBSA

Most Read