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

The Rogers Creek Trail main trailhead is located on the Redford Extension in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hiker rescued after cold few hours in the bush outside Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Rescue Squad said they receive frequent calls for people lost on this trail

Helma Swinkels, left, from Bibi J’s is all smiles as she makes her first donation under the new business name to Ellen Frood from Alberni Community and Women’s Services (ACAWS). In 18 sales days, Swinkels was able to donate $3,000 to the transition house. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Bibi J’s in Port Alberni makes first donation to non-profit

Alberni Women and Community Services to benefit

Alberta premier Jason Kenney announced that Red Deer and other rural locations would soon be getting doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. (photography by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
EDITORIAL: Leading by example

Those in leadership roles need to follow the restrictions they impose on others

Melissa Martin from the Rollin Art Centre holds two paintings from the Rollin Art Centre’s permanent collection: an original portrait painted by the late Robert Aller, and a mixed media piece called ‘House’ from Peggy Larson that was part of Aller’s private collection. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre to re-open February 2

Newest exhibit will feature some pieces from permanent collection

Rik Abel has opened Rik’s Picks, a vintage record shop on Johnston Road. (TERESA BIRD / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni businesses get innovative during pandemic

See what’s new in the Port Alberni business community

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk in Nanaimo

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Most Read