The children at Cowichan Preschool weren’t allowed out to play in the facility’s backyard this week after the rear walls of the building were covered in offensive graffiti.
Tanya Berry, a director at the school located at 820 Wharncliffe Rd. in Duncan, said it’s believed the graffiti was painted on the walls sometime last weekend, and the kids won’t be allowed in the yard until it’s painted over.
Berry said more discarded needles were also found on the school’s grounds on Monday.
The incidents come on the heels of reports of drug paraphernalia, including discarded needles, being found on the school’s grounds earlier this month by staff members during regular safety sweeps of the property every morning before students arrive.
The City of Duncan, which owns the property and leases it to Cowichan Preschool, has been working with the school to try to deal with the issue.
At its last meeting, city council decided to allow the school to construct an eight-foot fence around the property, and lock the gate in the new fence when the school is not in session.
The city also gave permission for the school to remove nearby shrubs to expose potential hiding places for drug users.
As well, a new sharps box for discarded needles has been added in nearby McAdam Park, a commissionaire is now also patrolling the grounds for paraphernalia and anything out of place even before the teachers make their morning sweep, and police from the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment are conducting more patrols around the school.
Berry said school officials are pleased that the city is being so proactive in dealing with the issues.
“We’re very excited to be given permission to build what will likely be an eight-foot-high chain link fence around the property,” she said.
“It will cost about $20,000 and we have to raise the money ourselves.”
However, Berry said Duncan’s Surespan Ready Mix has stepped in and will donate all the concrete that will be required for the fence.
She said the school has also started a GoFundMe account to help in the fundraising, and that has raised more than $2,600 in its first three days.
A link to the fundraiser can be found at the school’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com.