Island Health is planning a new Wellness and Recovery Centre for 5878 York Rd. in North Cowichan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Island Health is planning a new Wellness and Recovery Centre for 5878 York Rd. in North Cowichan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

March Saturday in Duncan to protest Wellness Centre

Controversial site is close to 4 schools

Concerned parents will be marching from Cowichan Secondary School to Quamichan School this Saturday to protest the location of Island Health’s new Wellness and Recovery Centre on York Road.

Parents and other community members are worried about the placement of the centre, which will provide services, including overdose prevention, to people with substance-abuse and mental health issues. It will be situated right in the middle of four schools — Cowichan Secondary, Quamichan School, Alexander Elementary and Duncan Christian — and close to the Cowichan Community Centre, Cowichan Aquatic Centre and Cowichan Sportsplex.

The march is being organized by the citizens action group A Voice for Our Children, who believe that local leadership is “putting our kids safety last,” by placing the Wellness Centre in its proposed site.

“We as a group of parents in the community strongly feel that the kind of environment that comes with the safe injection site does not fit with the sites for every form of recreation and the four schools in the area,” said Florie Varga, one of the founders of A Voice for Our Children.

Varga noted that students are already exposed to inappropriate sexual behaviour and drug use while travelling between the schools and local businesses, which is often necessary because there are no cafeterias in the schools. The Wellness Centre, she said, will only draw more of that to the area.

“When Warmland House was put in, people throughout the community thought it was a bad idea, but no one said anything,” Varga said. “At least this time, we are saying we want to have a voice for our children. The province isn’t going to move four schools. We have to look at a different model.”

Exposure to some of the things students see near their schools can cause lasting damage, Varga said. Schools are supposed to be safe havens for children, and those safe havens are being compromised, she added.

“Kids are resilient, but at what point do they become desensitized,” she asked. “When they are desensitized, they lose their connection to people.

“When you’re in a hypersensitive state, that’s where PTSD comes from. That’s what we’re making our kids endure day in and day out.”

Varga and other members of A Voice for Our Children feel their concerns are falling on deaf ears.

“We live in this community, we support this community, we work in this community, and we don’t have a voice,” she said. “And our kids don’t have a voice.”

The march will take place on Saturday, Sept. 19, starting at Cowichan Secondary School at 10 a.m. A rally and speeches will take place upon arrival at Quamichan School. Masks and social distancing are mandatory.

cowichan valleyDrugsIsland Health

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

Just Posted

Nikita, a four-year-old German Shepherd that was attacked by a buck in a backyard in Esquimalt Sunday is lucky the injury wasn't more severe. (Photo contributed by Suzette Goldsworthy)
Esquimalt dog owner issues alert after deer injures German shepherd

Nikita needed stitches after an early morning encounter

The Victoria Police Department headquarters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation launched into man’s death after arrest in Victoria

IIO investigation to determine if police actions or inaction played a role in the man’s death

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest man covered in blood on heels of significant Saanich crash into woods

Resident calls in home invasion in progress after crash

Capital Regional District Animal Control say an eight-month-old Rottweiler bit a Langford mother and her child near Glen Lake on Nov. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Large dog attacks mother and child in Langford

Mother puts three-year-old on top of car to protect him

Victoria School for Ideal Education at 2820 Belmont Avenue is the second school in Greater Victoria with an active confirmed COVID-19 exposure. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Private school becomes second Greater Victoria school with COVID-19 exposure

Victoria School for Ideal Education follows Lakeview Christian School in Saanich

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read