Doug MacKenzie and his group of volunteers spent the Canada Day weekend painting the exterior of the buildings along Duncan’s Whistler Street.
MacKenzie, who owns the Options Okanagan Treatment Centre for those struggling with addictions, grew up in the area and began a campaign last year, called “Love Your Community, One Street at a Time”, in an effort to clean up the more troubled areas of downtown, including Whistler Street.
MacKenzie and his team started painting the businesses on the west side of the street last October, and a fresh team, consisting of members of his family, Rotarians from the Duncan chapter, and other community members, was back last weekend to finish the work on that side of the street.
“This is our way of giving back to the business owners here,” MacKenzie said on Monday after spending four days on the painting project.
“They are taxpayers who help make this town work. We hope what we’re doing here is seen as a blueprint for any other street in the community and we’re hoping to do this on more streets around here as we go. The next phase of the project on Whistler Street is to paint the businesses on its east side. Those businesses are picking the colours and we’ll get to it at another time down the road.”
While he now lives and works on the Lower Mainland, MacKenzie frequently visits his hometown to see friends and family.
He had his own struggles with addiction when he was growing up in Duncan, but he chose to straighten his life up and has been clean and sober for more than 30 years, during which time he established his treatment centre to assist others facing the same issues.
In his frequent visits to Duncan, the growing addiction issue in the city was becoming more apparent to him and he has been working in a number of ways to counter it, including the “Love Your Community, One Street at a Time” campaign.
“There was a pool hall and pizza parlour on Whistler Street that I used to spend a lot of time at when I was a young teenager,” he said.
“The street was a lot nicer then, before people started doing drugs, sleeping around here and other things, so we painted over all the graffiti and cleaned up the area. We also built a $14,000 eight-foot high fence on the northern part of the road, of which the City of Duncan contributed $5,000, to disrupt the unwanted foot traffic on the street and that has played a big part in making the street safer, cleaner and quieter.”
MacKenzie said the business owners helped pay for the paint and supplies, while Will Arnold from Experience Cycling also provided tents and water to the work crews, and local restaurants cooked meals for them.
“We’re showing what can be done with a group of volunteers and a little bit of money,” he said.
“This a way for me to give back to the community and help create more livable streets. We can do this on any other street around here and if people are interested, they can call me at 250-864-6068.”