Garbage heaps like this that are being left by homeless people on Lewis Street are causing complaints from local residents. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Garbage heaps like this that are being left by homeless people on Lewis Street are causing complaints from local residents. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

What you said: Urgent need for solutions as drugs, homeless taking over Duncan

“What a sad time in our history. One must wonder how it will all end.”

That’s what Randy Kits wrote as part of a Facebook comment under the Citizen’s recent post with a story about the mess on Lewis Street and beyond that’s been made by some of the region’s homeless population.

“I would not step foot in a Duncan city park for fear of discarded needles. A couple business owners in town have shared stories with me about the issues they face every day with addicts, feces and needles,” he also wrote.

He’s not the only one.

“I have lived in this neighbourhood for 35 years, since I was 18 months old,” wrote Karlie Stokes. “I used to play with kids up and down my street and all around the neighbourhood. Now, I won’t let my daughter out to the sidewalk. She’s not allowed in the front yard without supervision, and my entire back yard is fenced, with multiple locks. This was once a wonderful neighbourhood, somewhere you would be proud to raise a family in. Now, it’s a hole in the ground. I see drug deals, homelessness, drug users every day. Someone was sleeping in the trees across from my house. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had to call the RCMP…it’s just heartbreaking.”

The issue of drugs and the homeless in the Cowichan Valley has been around for years but by the accounts of most, seems to be getting worse.

Opinions are mixed about what the core problem really is and whose problem it is to fix. Fingers are being pointed every which way, from junkies to local governments to the RCMP to the court system to the operators of the homeless shelter and safe injection sites and more.

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

Many are simply fed up, while some have their own ideas about a solution.

“I can’t speak for the rest of the taxpayers but I’m sick and tired of seeing our town and government bend over backwards to help folks who don’t want help,” wrote Jackie Nicolson on the Citizen’s website. “I’m tired of seeing the money that has been spent in the York Street area to keep these folks from destroying their businesses. At the end of the day my heart goes out to the families of these folks but they think that we should give them the moon and the stars because they made a decision to put a needle in their arm.”

Nicolson called for some “tough love”.

But what does that even look like, wondered Al Brunet.

“What does “tough love” mean? What specific action would you take? Everybody is looking for answers but you are not providing any in your comments. The people on the front lines of this situation are understaffed, underpaid and overworked. If they ‘burn out’ your problem will get many times worse,” he wrote.

Jasmine Hopps believes treating addiction is crucial to change.

“The only solution to this problem is to tackle the addiction issue. Maybe we should be taking a look at other places who have successfully reduced addiction and homelessness. These people aren’t going to disappear, relocation isn’t the answer, more housing isn’t the answer, it’s time for something new,” she said. “Take a look at Portugal’s plan to deal with their addiction problem and how successful they have been.”

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized drugs for personal use and made treatment available for free to anyone who needed it with the understanding that addiction is a chronic recurring issue best dealt with through treatment, not fines and prison.

The answer is not easy to come to, explained Paula Masyk.

“Everyone is frustrated by this situation, and many things are being tried by many good people. Nobody has ‘the answer’. To stop trying will not make addicts or homeless people disappear,” she wrote. “This problem in our society is here to stay. The society pays one way or the other. Either with treatment and housing or with policing, theft and medical. We can’t make it go away because we are fed up and frustrated. There is no escape from the impact. We have to decide the most effective way to pay, and give up the notion that we can choose not to.”



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

Police presence in Chemainus in an actual building is limited to South Island Highway Patrol on Chemainus Road. (Photo by Pete Cavanaugh)
Petition calls for policing commitment in Chemainus to be honoured

Former detachment member leads the charge in making the municipality and RCMP accountable

Khowhemun Elementary is one of two Cowichan Valley schools that announced possible COVID-19 exposures last week. (Google Street View image)
Two Cowichan Valley schools announce possible COVID-19 exposures

Positive tests at Khowhemun, Quamichan; Superstore confirms more cases

Members of the 4-H Horse Club enjoy the annual horse camp at the Cowichan Exhibition grounds. (submitted)
Farm Credit Canada supports Cowichan 4-H club with cash

On the list of recipients is the Cowichan 4-H Horse Club out of Cobble Hill.

Flanked by CVOLC staff members Kevin van der Linden, Nate Boersen, Lisa Kellar and Neil Ellingson, Ryan Linehan receives his Student of the Month award from Rotary representatives Gregg Perry and Kim Barnard. 
(Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Valley Open Learning Collective ‘ambassador’ named Student of the Month

Ryan Linehan earns award for demonstrating natural leadership

(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

Montreal Canadiens right wing Paul Byron (41) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Monday, March 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Captain Clutch: Horvat nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Habs 2-1

Vancouver, Montreal tangle again on Wednesday

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

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Most Read