Editorial: Province must step up to help with opioid, homelessness crisis in Cowichan

Never have these problems been so bad as they are now

There have always been a certain number of homeless people in Cowichan, and most congregate in the Duncan area, as that is where services are available to give them at least a little bit of a hand up.

There has also always been a certain amount of drug use and addictions in Cowichan.

But never have these problems been so bad as they are now, creating a visible difference in the community that cannot be ignored.

There is a decided difference between those who don’t have a permanent place to live because affordable housing is scarce and those who are homeless because of mental health and addictions problems that make them extremely difficult to house. For the first group, putting up more housing is the solution. For the second, it is much more complicated, as a roof over their head is an important step towards solving the problem, but by no means does it do so in its entirety.

Some Duncan neighbourhoods that have bourne the brunt of the problem have seen everything from people literally sleeping in the streets and vacant lots around their homes, to increases in theft, vandalism and violence that have them at their wit’s end. Throughout the Cowichan Valley there has been a rising problem of thieves taking anything and everything that isn’t nailed down — and some things that are. These problems are clearly connected to the drug crisis.

The Cowichan Leadership Group is comprised of the Valley’s mayors, MLA, MP, school board chair, head of the RCMP detachment, and Cowichan Tribes chief. This group is calling on the provincial government to step up with more help to try to find real solutions to the problems we’re facing.

A 2019 proposal for temporary treatment centres and a safe drug supply pilot program were turned down by the provincial government. These are the bare essentials of what is needed, and don’t even touch on the mental health issues that may or may not be linked to the drug issues people face. Drug and mental health issues fall squarely into the category of health problems — and the province has jurisdiction over health.

It’s time for everyone to step up — the province included.


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

Just Posted

Kevin Timothy to plead guilty to animal cruelty charge

He will appear at the Duncan courthouse on March 24

Minister and Halalt First Nation chief consult on effects of recent flooding

Community heavily impacted with many damaged and uninhabitable homes

Drivesmart column: Regulatory vs advisory road signs

The regulatory sign must be obeyed exactly as it is read.

Alistair MacGregor column: Responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic

This crisis has shown us just how many Canadians struggle every day to pay the bills

Second vehicle from Crofton Geo-Tech theft recovered

Supervisor at Crofton operation finds it parked at Chemainus campground

List of cancelled Cowichan Valley community events

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

World COVID-19 morning update: Olympics delayed one year; 12,000 health care workers infected

Comprehensive world news update: Lockdown in UK showing signs of hope

Newspapers are safe to touch, World Health Organization confirms

Just make sure to wash your hands as you would after touching any surface or object

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

Most Read