The highway corridor through North Cowichan and Duncan will be the focus of a new initiative to deal with crime and social issues plaguing the area. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

N. Cowichan budgets $10K for ‘Duncan Strip’ crime strategy

Businesses identify crime and social issues as major factors

The highway corridor through North Cowichan and Duncan will be targeted in new efforts to make it easier for businesses on that stretch of busy roadway to operate after crime and other social issues were identified as major issues there.

The Municipality of North Cowichan voted to spend up to $10,000 from its budget for 2019 at the council meeting on Feb. 6 to develop a Safer Community Plan, which is intended to initiate partnerships between local governments, the police, social and health agencies and the business community to better address issues of crime and public disorder on the highway corridor.

The City of Duncan also agreed to participate in developing the plan at a council meeting last week and will also spend up to $10,000 on the project from its 2019 budget.

RELATED STORY: NEW ASSOCIATION POSSIBLE FOR DUNCAN HIGHWAY BUSINESSES

A staff report written by Rob Conway, North Cowichan’s director of planning, said a recently completed study by Community Futures Cowichan on the issue determined that the primary issues for business owners in the corridor area are social issues and safety and security.

Conway said the study cites a current level of “public disorder” as a shared concern among business owners and identifies a high level of frustration regarding the lack of assistance and response businesses receive from law enforcement authorities, government agencies and local government.

“Recent meetings involving elected officials, senior municipal staff and local business owners highlighted problems associated with homelessness, opioid use and other social issues impacting business owners and the public in the ‘Duncan Strip’,” he said.

“Although it is recognized by most that the underlying issues are complex and do not have easy solutions, it is apparent that businesses and property owners within the Duncan/North Cowichan highway corridor are desperate for some assistance and relief from the ongoing social problems and crime they are experiencing.”

Conway said that in an effort to provide assistance to those impacted, the concept of a Safer Community Plan has been explored with Randy Churchill, an enforcement and security professional who is an ex-RCMP officer and the former manager of bylaws with the City of Nanaimo.

“Although a Safer Community Plan for the Duncan/North Cowichan highway corridor has not been identified to date as a priority project for the 2019 work plan, the rapidly developing social problems in the highway corridor area are significantly impacting safety and security in the area and is negatively impacting communities in this area in many ways,” he said.

“The SCP will help identify some immediate actions that can be taken to address pubic disorder issues in the area and provide some relief to business owners and the public until longer-term solutions can be found.”

RELATED STORY: HOME DEPOT WORKS TO HELP FIGHT HOMELESSNESS

North Cowichan’s CAO Ted Swabey told council that when Churchill was working for the City of Nanaimo, he developed a safety plan for the area of downtown where the city’s conference centre was proposed to be built at the time.

“It was a pretty messy place so Mr. Churchill engaged local businesses, the RCMP, bylaw officers and other stakeholders and came up with a successful strategy to deal with the area’s issues,” Swabey said.

“If approved, work would start immediately to bring everyone together in the highway corridor to become one voice and develop a strategy.”

Mayor Al Siebring said some businesses on the highway corridor are already independently spending thousands of dollars a month on security, and coordinating a common strategy with other businesses and stakeholders could see those expenses go down.

Coun. Tek Manhas said he knows of one business on the corridor that has spent $25,000 on a security system.

“I also know that some of the businesses are putting plans for their business on hold due to the issues in the area,” he said.

Coun. Kate Marsh said that she hopes the development of a strategy to deal with security and crime issues on the corridor will help raise awareness about those who are living on the streets.

“They are often homeless due to traumatic instances they have experienced,” she said. “I hope we can use this initiative as an educational piece for our community.”

Coun. Rosalie Sawrie added that she has also heard that some businesses in the corridor are considering closing their doors due to the issues they face there.

“This is not a problem that any one group can solve on its own,” she said. “That’s why I think this is an important initiative that we should support.”

The motion was passed unanimously.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Cowichan schools being stymied by outdated student contact info

If you haven’t heard from the school by week’s end, get in touch

Sweet treat helps make Chemainus Health Care Centre workers feel complete

Girl Guide cookies always in good taste when showing appreciation

Cowichan Valley food banks reopen on a limited basis

CMS handing out hampers, Basket Society doing hampers and sandwiches

B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, total cases top 1,000

Province continue to have a recovery rate of about 50 per cent

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

An ongoing list of events that have been cancelled in the Cowichan Valley due to COVID-19

Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Two arrested after man lies about COVID-19 illness to stay in Victoria Airbnb for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Liberals delay release of 75% wage subsidy details, costs: Morneau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Nanaimo dentists donate 4,000 masks, 25,000 gloves to health-care peers

Nanaimo District Dental Society collects items for front-line workers during COVID-19 pandemic

No laws in B.C. to force businesses to offer refunds, even during a pandemic

Black Press Media talks to Consumer Protection BC on how to navigate during COVID-19

COVID-19 essential workers can apply for B.C. pre-school child care

Parent referral opens, providers offered emergency funding

Most Read