Homeless protest camp sets up in Duncan

Crissy Brett wants to do her part to draw attention to the homeless problem in the Cowichan Valley

Crissy Brett wants to do her part to draw attention to the homeless problem in the Cowichan Valley, and across B.C., as the provincial election approaches.

Brett, a member of the Nuxalt First Nation who lives in Crofton, has set up a small tent city on the corner of the Trans Canada Highway and Beverly Street in Duncan.

She said it’s a means of providing sanctuary and comfort for the homeless and vulnerable in the local community while waiting for both the province and Ottawa to change policies and to better support them.

Rental vacancy rates in the region are reported to be only about one per cent.

A recent bedbug issue in a local homeless shelter was quickly dealt with, but saw some clients temporarily scrambling for a roof over their heads. This compelled Brett to take action.

Brett was involved as a liaison with the tent city that was set up on public property in Victoria that drew attention to the province’s homeless problem last year, and decided on a similar strategy to drive the message home in the Cowichan Valley.

Brett set up her tents at the busy Duncan intersection on March 17 and said, while campers were few to begin with, she’s pleased with the amount of support she’s receiving from passersby.

She said she intends to be at the intersection for just a few days before setting up again in another high-profile location in Duncan for another short while to draw attention to the homeless problem and encourage voters to make it an integral issue in the provincial election.

“We want to start the conversation for more immediate change, rather than just waiting for the governments to change it on their own,” Brett said.

“We’re not trying to freak people out with our tents. We just want to talk to people on these issues and we don’t intend to be in any one place for very long.”

Const. Krista Hobday, a spokeswoman with the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, said police have been in contact with Brett and she assured them that the awareness campaign will be peaceful.

“We will respond to any complaints, but we have received none to date in regards to this,” she said.

“We respect people’s freedom of speech and as long as it remains peaceful, traffic is not impeded and there are no other problems, we won’t intervene.”

The United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island, in collaboration with Cowichan Housing Association, Our Cowichan, Cowichan Mental Health, Social Planning Cowichan, The Division of Family Practice, and the Substance Use Collective Impact Team hosted a conference on homelessness in Duncan earlier this month.

The federal government, through its Homelessness Partnering Strategy, is funding a 12-month project to bring local agencies together to develop a multi-year plan to address the issue, and more than 70 agencies participated in the conference.

Strategies and recommendations to deal with homeless issues in the Valley will be developed over the next year.

Just Posted

Lexi Bainas column: Roger Sparkes honoured, CVAC art show now new and improved

A well-deserved posthumous award goes to Cowichan Theatre’s biggest booster

Workshop helps Cowichan residents understand basic of dementia journey

Free Getting to Know Dementia workshop to Duncan on Thursday, May 2.

Drivesmart column: Liability: pedestrians and drivers turning left

Alexander Zacher was walking to work early on the morning of Oct. 31, 2014 in Tsawwassen.

Robert Barron column: Will the opioid crisis ever end?

There were 31 small white crosses placed about a half-foot apart

VIDEO: Next up on ‘World of Dance’: Vancouver Island’s Funkanometry faces ‘The Cut’

Fans of Funkanometry: the Vancouver Island hip hop duo that have reached… Continue reading

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

Coming up in Cowichan: Easter Eggspress; knitting workshops

Hop aboard the Easter Eggspress at the BCFDC The Easter Eggspress is… Continue reading

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Most Read