Desperate times call for desperate measures.
And make no mistake about it, these are indeed desperate times in dealing with criminal activity that’s clearly on the rise in the region. There’s no more sweeping things under the rug. Action has to be taken now.
North Cowichan and Duncan are taking a step in that direction with an initiative to address crime and public disorder along the Trans-Canada Highway corridor in Duncan between Beverly Street and Boys Road. Both local governments have endorsed the Safer Community Plan to establish a Corridor Safety Office and coordinate municipal bylaw enforcement and RCMP resources.
Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples promises this is just the beginning. “Duncan and North Cowichan will continue to work together to advocate for additional resources for the existing community health and social service organizations, as well as more long-term housing and treatment facilities that are needed for people dealing with homelessness and those also dealing with addiction and mental health issues,” she noted in a press release.
This is no longer a downtown Eastside Vancouver problem or a downtown Victoria problem. Every community is being affected in some way – Chemainus, Crofton and the entire Island included.
The primary problem, of course, is the opioid crisis and heavily drug-addicted individuals. They are everywhere. They are readily identifiable from their glazed, dazed and confused looks. They can be seen, usually with backpacks, walking along the highway or scouring communities.
There’s also many of them on bikes. They weave in and out of traffic, endangering themselves and others.
Thefts are being reported on an ongoing basis. A car was stolen from one neighbourhood in Ladysmith in broad daylight, the fifth car taken from the same neighbourhood recently.
Similar reports of stolen items large and small are emerging daily. Homeless druggies encamped in bushes or illegally squatting are making life miserable.
This is a huge test of our diligence and willingness to clean up the current state of our society.