COWICHAN COMMUNITY LEADERS ASKING FOR COMMUNITY HELP TO ADDRESS THE HOUSING AND OPIOIDS CRISIS
July 25th, 2019 - 1:03pm
DUNCAN – Community leaders in the Cowichan Valley are asking the community for their support to help solve the housing and opioids crises the region is facing.
On June 27th, Chief William Seymour, MP Alistair MacGregor, MLA Sonia Furstenau, Mayors Michelle Staples and Al Siebring, CVRD Chair Ian Morrison, School Board Chair Candace Spilsbury and others met to address the challenges our community is facing. This was the second meeting of community leaders to discuss this crisis and another is planned in August.
The group has been discussing the community needs, such as, low barrier shelter, more funding for staff, security, and neighbourhood support for the services that already exist, such as Warmland, the OPS, and the needle pick up program. Additional wrap around support services for mental health and addictions are needed, as well as, treatment centres, follow up services, a youth shelter, and affordable supportive housing for seniors.
Community leaders are asking for people to help by writing to the provincial and federal governments asking for them to step up and provide what local leaders already know is in great need.
There are also organizations working on the ground every day to support the growing needs and challenges. 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.
"We need everyone who lives in the region to reach out to the province and let them know we need support here. The reason the City sees the most impact along with areas of the Municipality of North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes is because we service a region of over 80,000 so the majority of people, other than some in Chemainus and Ladysmith, living with homelessness and those dealing with mental health and addiction issues from the entire region, end up in Duncan. making this crisis we are facing something ALL of us have a role and responsibility in working together to develop and fund solutions, to advocate, to volunteer, to help, not hinder the reality of our situation."
"There are many things needed to address the changes affecting the lives of people who live in our communities. The sentiment that you will build it and they will come needs to be put to rest, we will build it because they are here. I hesitate to put it that way because the last thing I want to add to is the Stigma of Us and Them. They are our neighbors, our children and people who came here, like so many of us, to make a home and live their life in a beautiful place. Things don’t always end up the way we plan and peoples circumstances change and their lives are impacted in ways we cannot understand and should not judge. That being said, the impacts are hard to endure, changes to our personal safety, peoples inability to enjoy where they live and the impacts felt to businesses and community members are compounding every day." –Michelle Staples, Duncan Mayor
"I acknowledge there's considerable community frustration over both the housing situation and the mental health and opioid crisis. 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 to step up to help. Local governments and Cowichan Tribes simply don't have the capacity to deal with these things on our own." –Al Siebring, Mayor, District Municipality of North Cowichan
"The Board of Education of the Cowichan Valley School District is a proud and active partner in providing solutions for issues surrounding poverty and homelessness in the Cowichan Valley. Although we are limited in the scope of what we can do, we are happy to provide available resources for the betterment of our community. The long-term lease of our concession stand on the field of Cowichan Place for use as a women's shelter is a strong example of our commitment," said Candace Spilsbury, Chair of the Board of Education of the Cowichan Valley School District. "There are many organizations in our valley that are working hard towards meaningful solutions to these complex issues. We encourage community members to become active advocates to government to support these solutions to homelessness and poverty." – Candace Spilsbury, Board Chair, School District 79~ Cowichan Valley
"As we work together to address challenges in our region, the more we can lift each other up and support the efforts of our service providers, the more time our community can spend focusing and engaging in solutions. It is important for us to work together, and to communicate effectively with the provincial and federal governments about the urgent need we have in Cowichan for more support." – Sonia Furstenau, MLA Cowichan Valley
"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. 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." – Alistair MacGregor, MP Cowichan-Malahat-Langford
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, MP
Minister of Health
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
GOVERNMENT OF BC:
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Honourable Selina Robinson
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
Honourable Judy Darcy