Island Health is expected to begin public consultations soon on its controversial plans to open a new wellness and recovery centre at 5878 York Road. (File photo)

Island Health is expected to begin public consultations soon on its controversial plans to open a new wellness and recovery centre at 5878 York Road. (File photo)

Public consultations on Duncan wellness and recovery centre coming in February

Controversial facility on York Road scheduled to open in June

Island Health’s long-anticipated public consultation on its controversial Wellness and Recovery Centre that is planned for York Road is scheduled to begin soon.

At North Cowichan’s council meeting on Jan. 20, Coun. Rosalie Sawrie said she has been in contact with officials at Island Health who said plans to engage the community on the centre, which will be located at 5878 York Rd., before it opens in June are well underway.

“Invitations have been sent out to different groups and folks in the neighbourhood to serve on the community advisory committee that is being established,” Sawrie said.

“Also, there are plans that by the end of January or early February, Island Health will hold virtual town halls where people can be educated [on the issues related to the centre] and it can be explained what is happening with the centre. Island Health said the concerns of the neighbourhood will be listened to, and wants to make sure the security concerns are addressed.”


Island Health confirmed it is in the final processes of forming the committee, and the first meeting will be held in February.

The health authority said in a statement that the committee is just one part of a broad-ranging public engagement strategy on the centre.

Sawrie said the work permits for the required renovations at 5878 York Rd. for the centre have been issued, and work is currently underway that will see the centre set up at the location by early June.

She cautioned against any expectations that Island Health could be persuaded to move the centre to another location during the public consultation process.

Sawrie said the municipality had already stated its concerns about the location to the health authority, but the decision has been made to place it on York Road.

“I think it’s important to focus as a community in identifying what the problems are and listen to each other [during the public consultation process],” she said.

“We all need to work together to make the centre the best wellness and recovery centre that it can be.”

Island Health announced last April that the centre will be set up on York Road to provide a range of services to support people living with addiction and mental health concerns.

It will bring together primary care, harm reduction, case management, overdose prevention, and on-site treatment in one location.


Island Health doesn’t require the permission of local governments or communities to open such facilities, but many residents and businesses in the York Road neighbourhood have been advocating for Island Health to open the centre elsewhere and have been pressing local governments to intervene.

North Cowichan council instructed Mayor Al Siebring to write a letter to Island Health in August acknowledging that the services of the centre are needed, but asked Island Health to pause any further development on the facility until a public consultation process with businesses and residents in the York Road neighbourhood is completed.

In response, James Hanson, Island Health’s vice president of clinical operations for central and north Vancouver Island, told the municipality in September that the health authority has faced significant challenges securing a location for the centre, and concluded that the site on York Road was only one available that will suit the purposes of the facility.


However, Hanson said Island Health is supportive of a public engagement process on the centre in the months leading up to its opening in June.

Hanson said in the letter that a community advisory committee will be established, and key stakeholders would be invited to designate a representative for the committee.

“Island Health recognizes the impacts the societal challenges of poverty, mental health, substance use and homelessness are having on individuals and communities across Canada, British Columbia and in the Cowichan Valley, including the long-standing challenges related to congregation, illegal activity and certain behaviours in the York/Beverly area,” he said at the time.

“We remain committed to working with the new service provider [Lookout Housing and Health Society], local governments and neighbours to ensure a service model that both mitigates community impact while ensuring safe, accessible and critical health care services.”

In a tight 4-3 vote, North Cowichan council decided at its meeting on Jan. 20 to have Mayor Al Siebring write a second letter to Premier John Horgan and Island Health encouraging them to explore alternative locations for the centre.

The decision to write the second letter came after a virtual delegation from A Voice for Our Children, who are campaigning against the plan to place the wellness centre at the site, asked for it at the last council meeting in December.

Mayor Al Siebring said council is “very much alive” to the fact that this type of service is needed in the community.

However, Seibring said council also wants to ensure that both Horgan and the health authority are aware of the community concerns the municipality has been hearing regarding the location on York Road.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Addictions treatment

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

Just Posted

Duncan Christian’s Grace George lines up a shot during the three-point portion of the BC School Sports Pandemic Basketball Challenge after taking a pass from Cam Stevens. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan Christian leads the way in pandemic basketball challenge

School tops participation numbers for second time this year

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Health authority opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

‘It was a great week for Jan Pullinger, MLA. She accompanied Andrew Petter, the new Minister of Health to Lake Cowichan. He credited her with saving the Youbou mill. Left to right, Jan, Petter and Sam Beldessi, president of the Cowichan Seniors. Pullinger and Petter were visiting the Seniors’ Centre.’ (Lake News, March 6, 1996)
Lake Flashback: A new library, Peewee sports, and a resignation

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old… Continue reading

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Pedestrians have rights to use highways

A highway is not the exclusive domain of drivers.

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has stepped up, in spite of COVID, for a number of charities. (Submitted)
Sahtlam firefighters step up

Sahtlam Volunteer Firefighters Association has a long history of supporting charities

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Most Read