Duncan Mayor Phil Kent, in the foreground, talks to a crowd of about 100 people who came to Cowichan Preschool on Dec. 6 to discuss possible plans for a warming centre for the homeless in McAdam Park. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Neighbours oppose homeless warming centre at McAdam Park

Duncan Mayor Phil Kent said no decisions have yet been made

A daytime warming centre for the homeless this winter in McAdam Park is not wanted by many who work and live around the public space.

That point was made clear when approximately 100 people jammed into Cowichan Preschool, which operates next door to the park, to discuss the issue on Dec. 6.

Trish, a teacher at the preschool who was one of the meeting’s organizers, said the people at the school are compassionate towards the homeless, but are also concerned about the children.

“The homeless are vulnerable, but so are the children and the seniors who walk their dogs through the park every day,” she said.

“Duncan has so few public spaces so it would be a shame to lose another one. I feel bad for the city because this is a huge problem and there are so few dollars to deal with it.”

The Cowichan Coalition to Address Homelessness asked the City of Duncan in a letter last week to help establish a daytime warming centre for the homeless in the field houses at McAdam Park.

The field houses, which have change rooms and shower facilities, were made available for this purpose in the past and, given the support of the province, the coalition is hoping it could be done again.

Council voted unanimously to ask staff to prepare a report on the financial and community impacts of establishing a warming station.

FOR RELATED STORY, CLICK HERE

Opie Williams, who has been coaching football at the sports field at McAdam Park for 10 years, said the ongoing issue around discarded needles around the park is the worst he can remember.

He said that practices and games have to be stopped several times when needles are discovered on the fields and the sharps have to be properly disposed of.

“And this is happening right next to a preschool that has had to build an eight-foot fence around it because of these problems,” Williams said.

“A daytime warming centre right next door will kill this preschool. Also, we didn’t have hot water for our showers in the field house for the past five months, and as soon as this comes up, the water is fixed.”

Zim Przybyl, a neighbour of the park, said he knows such a facility is needed in the city, but asked why it should be situated in his backyard.

“I expect that we’ll see the largest tent city in Duncan set up here,” he said.

“We, then, will become the most vulnerable people in the city.”

Rochelle, a mother from the neighbourhood who uses the park, said she’s not opposed to a warming centre, but the park is not a suitable location for it.

“This area is already compromised,” she said.

“I watch people shoot up here three to four times a week and they just leave their needles on the ground, despite a needle drop-box that has been set up close by.”

Duncan Mayor Phil Kent, who attended the meeting, said no decisions have yet been made by council on establishing a warming station in McAdam Park.

He said staff are preparing a report on the issue, but, at this stage, the city still has to determine if the province, which is ultimately responsible for dealing with homelessness in B.C., is behind the plan.

“We wouldn’t support it if there was no support from the province,” Kent said.

“But there are about 70 people considered absolutely homeless in the city that are living rough. Back in 2004, when there was no shelter here, we had deaths. We have a shelter now, but there are still some gaps. There are many women, for example, who just won’t use the shelter.”



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

CPAC launches Cowichan Performing Arts Centre Online

CPAC is posting submissions from the region’s musicians, dancers, actors, writers, and visual artists

Vandekamp moving on from Cowichan Capitals

Head coach returns to AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm

75-year-old woman rescued from Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

City of Duncan to consider a 3.16% tax increase for 2020

But council may consider delaying discussion due to COVID-19 crisis

Spike in thefts in Duncan has police issuing advice

Police have noticed an increase in property crime in the Duncan area… Continue reading

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

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

B.C. wide burning restrictions come into effect April 16

‘Larger open burns pose an unnecessary risk and could detract from wildfire detection’

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Look at hospitalizations, not recovery stats for COVID-19, B.C. professor says

Cases in hospital are a definitive count of people who have the novel coronavirus

B.C. First Nations want to launch fight of Trans Mountain pipeline approval

Last month, the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear five challenges about the pipeline

N95 masks on the way for Canada after 3M reaches deal with White House

The Trump White House had ordered 3M to stop shipping masks to Canada

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

Most Read