wellness centre protest
Protesters demonstrate against a planned wellness centre on York Road in North Cowichan on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo by Jacqueline Ronson)
Cowichan Valley

Your questions about the planned wellness centre

We asked what you want to know about the overdose prevention site and treatment facility. Here's what we heard.
Jacqueline Ronson September 24, 2020

Last Saturday, a few hundred people gathered to protest the location of a planned wellness and recovery centre in North Cowichan. 

At the protest and on social media, The Discourse asked for your questions on this topic. 

Thank you for the questions. They will continue to guide The Discourse’s investigation. We are committed to reporting that is grounded in the best available evidence and deepens our collective understanding of complex issues.

What do we know so far about the plans for the wellness centre, and the opposition to it? Read all about it here

Here’s what we heard:

Tavin Somerset, a neighbour and parent of a child in middle school, wants to ask Island Health: “Why is it going in right in the middle of four school zones?”

She wants to ask people living on the streets: “”What can we do to actually really help? How can we get people healthy again? How can we get mind health? How can we get community health again?”

Tara Cristofoli grew up and attended schools in this neighbourhood, and recently moved back to it. “I’ve always been in support of safe injection sites, but I just feel this is the wrong neighbourhood for it,” she says.

She wants to ask Island Health: “Is there a better situation, a better place to put it, away from the schools?”

She also asked, referencing her time living in Vancouver, “Have safe injection sites improved the Downtown Eastside?”

“I think not,” she says, answering her own question.

However, the impact of overdose prevention sites on neighbourhoods is far from clear-cut or obvious. What evidence actually exists? What neighbourhood supports make a difference? These are questions The Discourse seeks to answer. 

The following questions come from comments on The Discourse’s recent Facebook posts:

“How many of the young teens or children will grow up and need this service one day?” asks Jan M Brooks.

“To the protesters: are you just bitching or do you propose alternative solutions? What are your ideas?” asks Tammy Fleming. 

“My question is why, in this day and age, is it still ok to publicly hate this extremely vulnerable population? Would it be acceptable to publicly rally against any other particular group coming to a neighbourhood?” asks Anne Marie Degroot Thornton.

“To the protesters: Have you ever dealt with homelessness? What are your real life experiences with any type of substance abuse? Do you worry that if we do not deal with the core societal issues that are the reason for homelessness and substance abuse that your children maybe the one out here on the street 10 years from now? If the location was moved outside of town how many hours a week would you volunteer for a taxi service to get people back and forth from in town to the new location?” asks Amanda Brianne.

“Where are the facilities for youth who are struggling in the Cowichan Valley?” asks Katia Bannister.

“Are similar investments for facilities being made in other island communities to encourage Island Health and the CMHA clients to stay in their local communities?” asks Jim Doucet.

“I’d like to know what other sites were considered. I’d like to know if they have considered moving the Warmland House as well….” asks Kristi Dawn.

“I have a lot of questions for the protestors. Are they aware that their technique of using inflammatory and fear-mongering language is blatantly obvious?” asks Ramona Ratbone. “Have they considered that a neighbourhood bustling with nurses, social workers, support workers, doctors, etc. could improve the area? Have they realized that if they delay this project, more people will die as a direct result?” Ramona adds.

“How can we get people to seek out quality info?” asks Monica Finn.

“Any plans for island health and SD79 to put in place educational programs for all ages to educate the kids and teach prevention??” asks Jazz McKenzie.