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Cowichan School Trustees Want Island Health to Move Wellness and Recovery Centre

Cowichan Valley School District trustees are asking Island Health to re-locate the planned Wellness and Recovery Centre being established at 5878 York Road.

The District 79 board is concerned the Wellness and Recovery Centre will be on a heavily used student route and also within two-blocks of several schools: Alexander Elementary, Quamichan School, Cowichan Secondary School, and the soon to be relocated Wendy’s House Strong Start program.

The trustees say the chosen site for the facility does not find the proper balance between a need for the Wellness Recovery Centre and other members of the community, including children.

In a statement, board chair Candace Spilsbury says, “We know that there are many in our community who need this Wellness and Recovery Centre, and we’re happy that our community has been chosen for this and that they will get the support they need. However, the Board’s first responsibility is to our students and ensuring their safety, education, and growth. Having this centre located in the midst of three schools and one Strong Start program does not fit with the mandate we have been given by the public.”

District 79 is part of the Cowichan Leadership Group, which advocated for a Wellness and Recovery Centre in the Cowichan Valley, but was not consulted regarding the current location.

The Cowichan School Board will ask local governments to support its request for an alternate location.

North Cowichan is asking Island Health to pause further development of the Centre pending additional public consultation.

Florie Varga, founder of a citizen’s action group opposed to having a safe injection site as a part of the Wellness and Recovery Centre.

Varga says that while the need for services in Duncan and North Cowichan is great, the centre does not fit in a spot that is close to three schools and a community centre.

She has said that parents are concerned about the “spill off effect,” such as drug dealers, sex traffickers, and crime that children will witness as they go to and from school.

Cowichan Valley Medical Health Officer Dr. Waters has said there is evidence from programs in other parts of the world and the Lower Mainland that drug users involved in these types of programs have some stabilization in their life and there is a decrease in the amount of illegal activity they might have been involved in.

She says the planned services will result in stabilization for the community as a whole.

Dr. Waters says they are listening to the concerns of businesses and residents in the vicinity and will continue working with them to resolve the problems.

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