From left: Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor, CVRD chair Ian Morrison, Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau, Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples, Cowichan Tribes chief William Seymour, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring and School District 79 chair Candace Spilsbury. (Submitted)

From left: Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor, CVRD chair Ian Morrison, Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau, Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples, Cowichan Tribes chief William Seymour, North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring and School District 79 chair Candace Spilsbury. (Submitted)

Raise your voice to raise profile on drug crisis, homelessness: local politicians

Politicians urge citizens write to higher governments for urgent support

Local leaders are hoping that the Cowichan Valley’s many voices raised together in asking for the help of the entire region to solve two of the Cowichan Valley’s most pressing issues, the housing and opioid crises, will attract action and funding from senior governments.

Seven of the community’s most prominent politicians issued a joint plea on June 27, encouraging members of the community to write to both the provincial and federal governments and asking them to demand help.

Cowichan Tribes chief William Seymour, MP Alistair MacGregor, MLA Sonia Furstenau, Duncan mayor Michelle Staples and North Cowichan mayor Al Siebring, joined CVRD chair Ian Morrison and, School Board chair Candace Spilsbury in the request.

“We need everyone who lives in the region to reach out to the province and let them know we need support here,” Staples said, adding the City of Duncan and the more populated parts of North Cowichan and Tribes land see the bulk of those dealing with the homelessness, mental health and addiction issues because it’s the region’s core and that’s where the services are.

SEE RELATED: North Cowichan budgets $10k for ‘Duncan strip’ crime strategy

The solution is something citizens from all corners need to be in on.

“They are our neighbours, our children and people who came here, like so many of us, to make a home and live their life in a beautiful place,” she said. “Things don’t always end up the way we plan and people’s circumstances change and their lives are impacted in ways we cannot understand and should not judge.”

Even so, she said, the impact of the ongoing crises are weighing on everyone.

“…changes to our personal safety, people’s inability to enjoy where they live and the impacts felt to businesses and community members are compounding every day,” Staples noted.

SEE RELATED: Urgent need for solutions as drugs, homeless taking over Duncan

SEE RELATED: Duncan’s Lewis Street homeless issues raising ire of residents

The meeting of the group of seven leaders was the second such and a third is slated for August.

“Local leadership, including representatives from all levels of government, coming together to work on solutions to these crises in our community is a clear indication of the serious need for action,” MacGregor said. “It is my hope that our federal government, in particular, will respond in a sincere and worthwhile way to this demonstration of a united community front and provide the entire spectrum of policy changes and resources necessary to meaningfully help members of our community suffering from housing, mental health, and addictions problems.”

Local leaders have talked about low barrier shelter, more funding for staff, security, and neighbourhood support for the services that already exist, such as Warmland House, the overdose prevention site and the needle pick up program. But more is needed. More mental health and addictions services are needed, as are treatment centres, follow up services, a youth shelter, and affordable supportive housing for seniors and the list goes on.

SEE RELATED: Duncan overdose prevention site working at capacity

Current service providers are not just strapped for cash but are exhausted and the uphill battle continues to grow.

“Everyone and every service is overwhelmed with need, underfunded and under attack. Exhausted service providers need community members to ask what they can do and how they can help,” said a press release issued by the leadership coalition.

“I acknowledge there’s considerable community frustration over both the housing situation and the mental health and opioid crisis,” Siebring said. “Local governments and Cowichan Tribes simply don’t have the capacity to deal with these things on our own. We have done as much as we can to move this file forward with the federal and provincial ministries in terms of trying to secure funding for new initiatives, and now it’s time for those ministries to hear directly from the community on how critical it is that they step up to help.”

See below for provincial and federal government contact information:

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:

• Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, MP

Jean-Yves.Duclos@parl.gc.ca

• Minister of Health

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor

Ginette.PetitpasTaylor@parl.gc.ca

GOVERNMENT OF B.C.:

• Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Honourable Selina Robinson

MAH.Minister@gov.bc.ca

• Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Honourable Judy Darcy

MH.Minister@gov.bc.ca



sarah.simpson@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

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Newton’s first law of motion

I could have sworn I told them to help each other get unbuckled and to come inside.

Commercial property owners in Duncan will have an opportunity to beef up their security in 2021 with matching grants from the municipality. (File photo)
City of Duncan to help commercial properties increase security

Municipality to set up matching grant opportunities

John and Jeri Wyatt hope the upcoming North Cowichan public hearing will move things along toward exclusion of the Chemainus River Campground from the Agricultural Land Reserve. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Input sought on Chemainus campground ALR exclusion at public hearing

Matter back on the agenda after a late reprieve in 2019 for Chemainus River Campground owners

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

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

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

Most Read