Westward Independent

Bus Shelters To be Removed Amidst Public Safety Concerns

by WWIND Team
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The CVRD board of directors appeared distressed and frustrated while voting to remove two bus shelters, one on James St. and the other next to London Drugs at the Village Green Mall in Duncan, during the CVRD meeting on March 27th.


During the meeting, some participants, like North Cowichan’s councillor, Debra Toporowski, extensively discussed the issue of the “unhoused”. However, it seemed that nobody was willing to acknowledge the reality that these shelters were not being removed because a homeless individual was using them for shelter. Instead, they had to be removed due to the significant costs incurred by BC Transit to clean, remove syringes, and disinfect them. Furthermore, buses were unable to stop at these locations due to safety concerns and incidents of violence. It’s important to recognize that if an older gentleman was “unhoused” and sleeping in the bus shelter, it wouldn’t pose an issue. The truth is that these shelters are being removed because they are being taken over by people who use drugs.


During the CVRD meeting, it was mentioned that the owners of the property near London Drugs had also removed planter boxes and benches.


Quamichan School is currently under quasi-lockdown, with no students allowed to leave the property for lunch, and now bus stops are being removed. Local governments are writing letters and appealing to the province for assistance. When will this cycle end? There are two distinct issues at play here: homelessness (referred to as “unhoused”) and addiction. These issues cannot be treated as the same.


The province has shifted the responsibility for managing these problems onto local governments, from establishing safe injection sites to providing “transition” houses, and then seemingly abandoned them without providing adequate resources to address the issues effectively.


As neighbourhoods near these “transition houses” become increasingly unsafe, often referred to as “death houses” due to the high number of deaths occurring within them, it appears that the only solution offered is to increase local taxes for more policing and bylaw enforcement.


The “transition houses” are categorized as “wet housing,” meaning drugs can be used on the premises. Unfortunately, this puts individuals at greater risk of harm, as they often use drugs alone and are more vulnerable to overdoses.
A former security team member who worked at Comox’s “transition house” (Comox Valley Connects) reached out to share that within the five years since its opening, out of the 50 individuals housed there, 32 have passed away. While not all deaths occurred within the facility, this track record shows a significant failure in providing effective assistance. The former security officer also shared that between March 11th and 17th alone, there were 10 overdoses reported, many of which required multiple doses of naloxone for revival. Shockingly, all individuals refused ambulance transportation to receive further medical care. The source also highlighted the blatant drug trade occurring right outside the facility, as well as where the ‘safe supply’ is handed out and then sold immediately for harder street drugs.


We heard from a recovering addict who stated they would never use the “transition housing” due to the presence of dealers and users, which could easily trigger a relapse, showing the lack of suitable options available for individuals completing rehabilitation programs.


The system is undeniably broken, failing both those in desperate need of help and those striving to protect their communities. Members of the CVRD and North Cowichan are urging locals to voice their concerns to the Province in hopes of prompting action. The experiment the Province has taken part in, from legalizing drugs to selling “safe supply” has utterly failed. All the experiment has shown was that people are dying at record rates, there are not enough detox facilities, three-month rehabs need the option to be longer, ‘wet housing’ is a failure as is “safe supply”, neighbourhoods are being destroyed, and crime rates are exploding. Time to shut the human experiment down.


The CVRD confirmed during the board meeting on April 10th, a letter was sent to the Minister of Public Safety, Minister of Transporation and Infrastructure, Minister of Housing and Minister of Municipal Affairs to request support and to raise awareness of the negative collateral effects of the housing and addiction crisis.


– Staff

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