Mayor Al Siebring Comments On VIHA’s Decision To Put The New Overdose Prevention Site At 5878 York Road

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has decided to place a new Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) at 5878 York Road, across the street from the Warmland House Shelter.

This decision has created a lot of public opposition because 5878 York Road is within two blocks of two schools: the Quamichan Campus of Cowichan Secondary and the Alexander Elementary School. The Cowichan Valley School Board passed a motion opposing this VIHA decision. Here are media reports from the CBC and the Cowichan Valley Citizen about this public opposition.

5878 York Road, North Cowichan, BC in September 2020 (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
5878 York Road, North Cowichan, BC in September 2020 (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)

Here is a map showing the location of 5878 York Road in relation to the two schools on Beverley Street:

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring posted a lengthy comment on Facebook about VIHA’s decision to place an Overdose Prevention Site within two blocks of two schools. We have reproduced Mayor Siebrings‘s Facebook post below:

“Hi everyone. First of all.. apologies for the length of this post. It was precipitated by some questions asked by Don T Hatton and Erin O’keefe-Whiteford in one of the strings on this site. (There’s so much stuff that I can’t find those original posts back right now, so I’m just putting this up here as a stand-alone post.)

I’ll start with the central question Don T Hatton asked: “Under what or who’s authority was (Dr.) Shannon (Waters) looking for property?” The answer is that Dr. Waters was operating under a direct order from the top boss in her ministry… (then) Health Minister Terry Lake, in Ministerial Order M-488. The order reads in part, that the minister “order(s)… regional health boards to provide, on the advice of the provincial health officer… overdose prevention services for the purpose of monitoring persons who are at risk of overdose, and providing rapid intervention as and when necessary, as ancillary health services, in any place there is a need for these services…”

And language is important here. This is an ORDER. It’s not a “suggestion.” It’s like when your boss “orders” you to do something. You have two choices. Follow the order or quit your job. (You can see the full order here https://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/mo/hmo/2016_m488)

Don T Hatton goes on to ask: “Was there a committee she reported to or was this a Shannon Waters personally motivated project?” The answer is absolutely not. To the degree that she was involved in discussions around this project, it was the result of a direct order from her top boss, the Minister of Health, per M488 above. “What are Shannon Waters Qualification to determine a location does she have urban planning credentials?” Again, that’s not really germane to the discussion. To be clear, it wasn’t Dr. Waters who personally “chose” the location. She is the Medical Health Officer for our region, but Island Health/VIHA has a whole raft of bureaucrats who are responsible for siting various installations within the Health Authority’s boundaries. I can only assume that some of those folks have some urban planning experience, but even if they did, the “order” overrides any urban planning criteria. And for clarity, it appears this “site selection group” is headed up by James Hanson, who’s the Vice President of Clinical Operations for Central/North Vancouver Island (which is all of the Island except for the Greater Victoria area.)

Don T Hatton also asks: “If she (Waters) was reporting to a committee why at the very least was no one in the community who would be impacted by the location invited to participate on the committee?” That’s a question you’ll have to ask Island Health. I don’t believe there was a “committee” in the sense of a local group that Island Health “consulted” with before determining the location. Whether we like it or not, (and for the record, I don’t like it at all), M488 basically makes Island Health a law unto themselves. They are not mandated to consult with anyone.

Don T Hatton then goes on to ask: “Why did it take the pressure of A Voice for Children to finally motivate the school board and the City/ Municipality to send a letter objecting to the location? Does their failure to speak up mean they were supportive of the location of this facility prior to the group pressing them? I would guess the city, the municipality, and the school district were all aware this was coming.”

I first became aware of the decision to site this centre on York Road in late March. At that time, I approached the landlord, and asked him not to sign the lease. Our staff, when we heard that this location was “on the radar”, offered Island Health a list of local residents and businesses, and strongly suggested they consult with those folks before finalizing the lease. They chose not to do that, and made their announcement of a site selection on April 3rd.
I responded on that day, expressing strong concerns about the location choice. You can see my initial reaction at https://bit.ly/2Ddzssm.. again, that was posted on the day that Island Health announced its site selection.

So no, I was not supportive of the location.

But equally, I was very surprised at the (initial) lack of reaction from the community. I tried to alert folks this was coming. There was a formal announcement from Island Health. And the announcement was covered in the Cowichan Valley Citizen (shorturl.at/oCDR2).

With that information out in the public domain, I sat back and waited to see what the community response would be. The fact is that for four months, there was very little of that response. Without putting too fine a point on this, I would simply ask Mr. Hatton – in response to his question – “Why did it take the community four months – from early April until early August – to finally get worked up about this?”

But when it became apparent that there was considerable community opposition to this, I took the first opportunity I had – a Council meeting on August 19th – to ask Council for authorization to write a letter to Island Health, objecting to the lack of community consultation. That letter was sent the following week. (shorturl.at/zGLP1)

I want to expand on a couple of things about that letter I sent. First of all, the motion that Council passed was clear that the letter should express our concerns about the lack of public consultation about the site, and ask Island Health to pause their planning until that consultation was completed. But the letter also included the line “The location that was ultimately chosen is inappropriate and will surely have negative impacts on the surrounding businesses and residents.” One of my councillors has objected to the fact that I even included that line, because it went beyond what was authorized in the motion. The argument is that Council did not conclude that the site was “inappropriate.” Which, technically, is correct.

The letter also references discussions at the Leadership Group about this issue, when I wrote that “There was broad agreement… including at the Cowichan Leadership Group (of which Dr. Waters is a part), that (the “clustering” of these kinds of services) was absolutely not a desired outcome.” That line from the letter came up at a Leadership Group meeting last week, where I was criticized for referencing that “agreement” when no formal motion to that effect had been assented to. In fact, some in the Leadership Group insist that they don’t even remember there being any “agreement” on this at all, although both SD79 Board Chair Candace Spilsbury and I clearly recall this discussion.

All of which to say, the objections to that letter illustrate the political minefield that this file has created.

Don T Hatton asks one other question. “Why is it that every project carried out by VIHA and others connected to homeless and addiction issues are done under a veil of silence?” That’s a bit pejorative, but I understand the thinking behind it. The reality is that Island Health – indeed any agency of the Provincial Government – is not bound to be open or transparent about these things. There’s an obscure section of the BC “Interpretation Act” (Section 14(2)) which essentially says that those agencies are completely exempt from local land use and zoning regulations in terms of siting provincially-run buildings and installations. That covers everything from sites like the one on York Road to the Site C Hydro installation up north. Simply put, the province can put whatever it wants wherever it wants.

And that’s kind of central to this entire discussion. I know some people have accused me of being patronizing when I have said this in the past, but the reality is that if the local politicians (myself, Mayor Michelle Staples, or anyone else), had set our hair on fire and drawn a line in the sand in our opposition to this location, we would have lost. Period. Full stop. We would have set ourselves up for failure, and in the process of doing that, we would have created false and unattainable expectations in community.

Now to Erin O’keefe-Whiteford‘s questions: “When was the local governments/council and school board made aware that this facility was being placed here?” As I wrote above, I first became aware of this in late March. I spoke to the landlord, and our staff urged Island Health at that time to engage in some community conversations. The second question Erin asks is a bit puzzling to me. “And why at that time was a community consultation not announced by our locally elected officials? And please don’t blame VIHA.” Clearly, it was not our role to be “announcing community consultation.” What could we possible hope to achieve with “community consultation” that would be sponsored by local government, when – per s.14(2) of the Interpretation Act – we had no legal standing to have any input on this at all? Again, this would have set up community expectations. Perhaps people would have felt “heard”, yes, but it would have been dishonest for us to ask the community what they thought, when we knew upfront that this input would mean absolutely nothing to the process.

Erin O’keefe-Whiteford, you write, “Please don’t blame VIHA”. I’m not, but at the same time, we have to work within the legislative boundaries that are proscribed for us. You also wrote that we are “way past the blame game.” I totally agree. This isn’t about “blaming” anyone. It’s about the process.

One other observation about Erin’s comment, where she writes… “I have NO reason to believe that VIHA gives two hoots about this community. And I’m well aware that they have No transparency about anything that they do. So I didn’t and don’t expect any help from them.” Sadly, I agree with you. I’ve been saying this for the past 14 years or so to anyone who will listen, ever since the debacle around the Cowichan Lodge, which was when VIHA lost all credibility in this community. And it has never recovered from that. I have observed a culture there that is anathema to community consultation and inclusion.

In fact, I raised that very issue with Dr. Waters a few weeks ago in a slightly different context. VIHA had been intimating for weeks that they were on the verge of choosing the operator for the Wellness and Recovery Centre. But they couldn’t tell us who that operator would be because they were awaiting all the final details and signoff on the actual contract. (I believe there’s a formal announcement coming today that the contract will be with Lookout Services, the same organization that will be managing our Drinkwater Road Supportive Housing site.) But I compare VIHA’s approach on that messaging to that of BC Housing, who openly announced their intention to sign on with Lookout for the Drinkwater site more than a month before the formal contract was signed. And Lookout was present at our Council meeting in July to talk about their plans for community engagement on the Drinkwater site in the context of how they generally operate. Again, that appearance before our Council was weeks before the contract was signed, but it shows a completely different approach to – and respect for – the community.

I want to conclude with a brief comment on the letter I received back from Mr. Hanson yesterday. (I note that [ ] had already posted a copy of that letter elsewhere in this group, but I’ll link to it again for ease of reference You can find it at shorturl.at/ahnuO)

I recognize that there is a lot of anger about this letter. But honestly, it’s pretty much what I expected. Given all of what I wrote above, (and I’ve been saying this for months), I honestly don’t think Island Health will “change its mind” about this location. Whether we like it or not (and I don’t), the law is on their side when it comes to this siting.

So I would urge everyone to double down and work within the paradigm that we are presented with. There’s a couple of encouraging things in Mr. Hanson’s letter, including the commitment to “engagement on the service model”. It’s not completely clear to me how fulsome this “engagement” will be, but it’s at least an opportunity to talk to them about the interface between the community and the “services” that will be provided at the centre. Mr. Hanson also writes that they want to “(work) with the new service provider, local governments and neighbours to ensure a service model that both mitigates community impact while ensuring safe, accessible and critical health care services.”

And as part of this, there’s a plan to set up a “Community Advisory Committee”. To me, this infers a process wherein the real, on-the-ground concerns about street disorder can be addressed. For example, there is already a strong push for VIHA to pay for security around the site.. not just while it’s open, but on a 24/7 basis.

These are the kinds of questions where a Committee like this could apply appropriate pressure to address the concerns as they crop up.

I’ll leave it at that for now. You should also know that I’ll be leaving town for a few weeks of grandkid time this weekend, and won’t be back until Sept 28th, so my engagement on this will be limited for the next few weeks. (I’m actually going to try to limit my screen time for the first time since the start of COVID in March.)

Thank you for reading all the way to the bottom. I don’t expect my answers above to satisfy everyone (anyone?) but they’re my honest assessment of where we are on this file. Please take them for what they’re worth.”

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The Contract To Operate The New Overdose Prevention Site Has Been Given To The Lookout Housing + Health Society

The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) has given to contract to operate the proposed new Overdose Prevention Site at 5878 York Road, North Cowichan, to the Lookout Housing + Health Society, which is based in Vancouver.

5878 York Road, North Cowichan, BC in September 2020 (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
5878 York Road, North Cowichan, BC in September 2020 (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
5878 York Road, North Cowichan, BC in September 2020 (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
5878 York Road, North Cowichan, BC in September 2020 (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)

Here are some links to more information about the Lookout Housing + Health Society:

Like many non-profit organizations the is divided into two separate legal entities: the Lookout Housing + Health Society and the Lookout Housing + Helath Foundation. We will try to find more information on the legal and financial relationships between these two entities.

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Potential Conflict Of Interest – Duncan Council Meeting 15 June 2020

We believe the Mayor of Duncan, Michelle Staples, is in a potential conflict of interest regarding her actions in dealing with Agenda Item 7.8 of the City of Duncan Council Meeting of 15 June 2020. Agenda Item 7.8 of the City of Duncan Council Meeting is in regard to a Grant Application for a $10,000 Grant In Kind, made to the City of Duncan by the Cowchan Green Community Society on 8 June 2020. [Note: PDF]

Continue reading Potential Conflict Of Interest – Duncan Council Meeting 15 June 2020

Scale Of Proposed Supportive Housing Development At 260 White Road

BC Housing is proposing to build a new supportive housing development of “up to 50 units” on a currently vacant .427 acre lot at 260 White Road, off Jubilee Street in Duncan.

To give some idea of the scale of this proposed development, here is an article about a newly opened 21 unit supportive housing development called Spaken House on the former Blanshard School playground at 833 Hillside Avenue in Victoria.

Here is a photo of part of the new 21 unit Spaken House development at 833 Hillside Avenue in Victoria.

Province of BC photo of new 21 unit supportive housing building, Spaken House, at 833 Hillside Avenue in Victoria.
Province of BC photo of new 21 unit supportive housing building, Spaken House, at 833 Hillside Avenue in Victoria.

Continue reading Scale Of Proposed Supportive Housing Development At 260 White Road

Proposed New BC Housing Development At 260 White Road – Up To 50 Supportive Housing Units

The City of Duncan Council Meeting on 20 July 2020 will receive a BC Housing presentation regarding a proposed “White Road Supportive Housing Development” in which BC Housing proposes to built “up to 50 new, permanent, purpose built supportive housing units” on a currently vacant .427 acre lot at 260 White Road in Duncan. Here is link to a 18 June 2020 article in the Cowichan Valley Citizen about this proposed development. So far this is the only local media coverage I have seen of this proposal.

Here is a map showing location of 260 White Road in Duncan:

Here is a Google Street View image of the entrance to the currently vacant lot at 260 White Road. Note that is is the only street access for a proposed building with 50 units on a .427 acre lot.

Here is a link to the Agenda for the City of Duncan Council Meeting on 20 July 2020.

Under Agenda Item 6. Delegations, Item 6.1 is “Roberta Randall, Manager, Community & Tenant Affairs, and Heidi Hartman, Director of Operations, Vancouver Island Region, BC Housing – White Road Supportive Housing Development Community Engagement”. Roberta Randall and Heidi Hartman will be making a presentation to Duncan Council in support of this new development at 260 White Road.

Here is a link to their Presentation.

If this proposed development goes ahead it will have a major impact on this neighbourhood and will create several significant issues.

The first issue is Access to White Road.

White Road is a narrow dead end street which in only one block in length. Its only access point is at the intersection of White Road and Jubilee Street. The .427 acre lot at 260 White Road has no access on Lukaitis Lane to the south. Short of purchasing or expropriating existing adjacent properties on Lukaitis Lane to the south there is no possibility of increasing access to White Road.

The intersection of White Road and Jubilee Street in Duncan, BC. This is the only vehicle and pedestrian access to White Road.
The intersection of White Road and Jubilee Street in Duncan, BC. This is the only vehicle and pedestrian access to White Road.

This proposed facility will require parking for staff. There is no little space for parking on White Road and there would likely be little space for parking on a .427 acre lot with 50 units of supported housing.

A 50 unit supportive housing project under 24 supervision and providing meals and laundry service for residents will  significant deliveries of food and supplies. These deliveries would presumably have to be made by truck. There is currently no space on White Road for trucks to turn around. There would likely have to be space made available on the .427 acre lot at 260 White Road for a truck turn around. This would presumably mean less space for low level housing, which would mean a higher building to accommodate up to 50 units of housing.

That leads to the second issue, which is Density.

White Road and the neighbourhood around White Road are comprised primarily of low rise, detached, single family residential properties.

A proposed development of “up to 50 new, permanent, purpose built supportive housing units” on a .427 acre lot will undoubtedly require a multi level building which will be much higher than the surrounding properties. There are currently no other buildings in this neighbourhood with anything close to 50 units of housing.

We note there is no architects’ drawing of the proposed 50 unit building included in the the BC Housing Presentation to Duncan Council on 20 July 2020. The Presentation shows two other BC Housing buildings – one called Orca Place at 222 Corfield Street South in Parksville and one under construction at 2025 Agassiz Road in Kelowna – as examples of what this facility might look like but it does not provide any example of an actual building proposed for the site at 260 White Road.

Illustrations of both these buildings show facilities which are of a density and height which are definitely on a far larger scale than we think is feasible foe the neighbourhood around 260 White Road.

As an example, here is a map showing the location of Orca Place at 222 Corfield Street South in Parksville. Note the area has far more open space than does the neighbourhood around 260 White Road. Compare the map below with the map of 260 White Road above.

Here is a Google Street View image of the lot at 222 Corfield Street South in Parksville prior to construction of the BC Housing Supportive Housing facility at Orca Place. Note that this lot is far wider and far larger than the lot at 260 White Road. It is also in an area with far fewer existing houses than the area around 260 White Road.

Here is a map showing the location of 2025 Agassiz Road in Kelowna.  Note the area has far more open space than does the neighbourhood around 260 White Road. Compare the map below with the map of 260 White Road above.

Here is a Google Street View image of 2025 Agassiz Road in Kelowna.  Note that it is in an area of predominantly high rise buildings. That is not the case in the neighbourhood around 260 White Road.


The third issue is crime and anti-social behaviour.

Despite the reassurances of BC Housing, it can be easily demonstrated that these facilities bring crime and anti-social behaviour into neighbourhoods.

Here are links to some examples of news reports and Letters To The Editor about this issue around other BC Housing facilities on Vancouver Island:

As a local Cowichan Valley example of this, we will simply point to the situation along Lewis Street and York Road around the Warmlands Shelter. We suggest Duncan residents do not want a replication of Lewis Street in the area of 260 White Road.

We will adding more to this post later.

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Tent Site On Buller Street In Downtown Ladysmith

I happened to be in Ladysmith on 15 May 2020 when I came across a new Tent Site under construction on a vacant lot owned by the City of Ladysmith across from 11 Buller Street in downtown Ladysmith.

I noticed that Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples was present and apparently involved in the construction so I took some photographs of the site.

Here are some of the photos I took of the Buller Street Tent Site construction on 15 May 2020:

Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples (left) at construction of Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 15 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples (left) at construction of Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 15 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
Construction of Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 15 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
Construction of Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 15 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
Construction of Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 15 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
Construction of Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 15 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)

Here is a map showing the location of the Tent Site across from 11 Buller Street:

As I was taking these photos I was approached by Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone who wanted to know who I was and why I was taking photographs. Mayor Stone said that publishing photographs showing the faces of workers erecting the tent site would expose these workers to “aggressive actions” although he didn’t elaborate on who would initiate these “aggressive actions” or why these “aggressive actions”  would be undertaken.

I note that the Cowichan Valley Citizen has published photographs of North Cowichan Councillor Rosalie Sawrie at the Fuller Lake Arena Tent Site construction and no such concerns about “aggressive actions” have been expressed.

Here are some photos of the completed Tent Site on Buller Street in 19 May 2020:

Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 19 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 19 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 19 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)
Tent Site on Buller Street in Ladysmith, 19 May 2020. (photo: Duncan Taxpayers)

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One Cowichan On What A Climate Emergency Declaration Means

Duncan City Hall entrance

At its Council Meeting on 15 July 2019 the City of Duncan passed a Climate Emergency Declaration, after receiving a petition from One Cowichan containing 1,015 signatures.

Here is the Cowichan Valley Citizen article on this City of Duncan Climate Change Emergency Declaration. Here is One Cowichan’s online release about the City of Duncan Climate Change Emergency Declaration.

These Climate Change Emergency Declarations are being strongly advocated by One Cowichan, which held a meeting at Duncan United Church on 23 July 2019 to promote the passage of Climate Change Emergency Declarations by local governments.

Here is a sort video on the One Cowichan YouTube channel of Jane Kilthei of One Cowichan and Cara Pike of Climate Access responding to my question about what a Climate Emergency Declaration actually entails and what One Cowichan expects local governments to actually do after passing a Climate Change Emergency Declaration.

Jenni Capps, candidate for Duncan City Council (photo: Cowichan Valley Citizen)
Jenni Capps, Duncan City Councillor (photo: Cowichan Valley Citizen)

It should be noted that the Mayor of Duncan, Michelle Staples, and at least two City of Duncan Councillors – Jenni Capps and Stacey Middlemiss – are members of One Cowichan, although they were not at the meeting at Duncan United Church on 22 July.

Several Municipality of North Cowichan Councillors – including Kate Marsh, Christopher Justice and Rosalie Sawrie – are also members of One Cowichan and were present at Duncan United Church for the One Cowichan meeting on 22 July.

Cara Pike of Climate Access referred to Vancouver’s Six Big Moves. Here are some articles about the City of Vancouver’s “Six Big Moves”:

Here is the as Declaration of Climate Emergency as passed by Duncan City Council on 15 July 2019:

June 18, 2019 Environment and Sustainability Committee Recommendations

Declaration of Climate Emergency – R-192-15

It was moved (by Councillor Jenni Capps) and seconded:

That Council recognizes that climate change constitutes an emergency for the City of Duncan;

And That staff be directed to report back to Council within 90 days regarding:

  • actions the City has previously taken to reduce GHG emissions;
  • actions the City is presently taking to reduce GHG emissions;
  • actions the City is taking to adapt to climate change;
  • an action from the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan, prioritized by the Environment and Sustainability Committee to be initiated in 2019; and
  • additional actions that the City could take in the short, medium and long term to further reduce GHG emissions.

CARRIED

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Island Health Overdose Advisory For The Cowichan Valley – 24 April 2019

Island Health issued the following Overdose Advisory for the Cowichan Valley on 24 April 2019:

Island Health Overdose Advisory for the Cowichan Valley, released 24 April 2019
Island Health Overdose Advisory for the Cowichan Valley, released 24 April 2019

We contacted Island Health on 25 April 2019 and asked for clarification of this Overdoes Advisory.

Our initial question was: “When you say “increase in overdoses” what are the actual figures? How many in the past week compared to whatever benchmark figure(s) you are using in comparison?” 

Island Health responded within a few hours, saying:  “Thank you for your question. During the week of Apr.14-20, there were 12 overdoses at the Cowichan OPS, which is more than double this site’s moving average (3.4 overdoses each week).”

The Cowichan OPS (Overdose Prevention Site) is located at 221 Trunk Road.  So the Overdose Advisory is based only on Overdoses which happened at the Cowichan OPS (Overdose Prevention Site) is located at 221 Trunk Road.

So we asked Island Health two follow up questions:

“Thanks for the reply. So this is based only on OD’s at the Cowichan OPS on Trunk Road? Any other OD’s in the area during the past week?”

“Also, is there a stronger strain of drug out there? Any idea(s) on why this happened in the past week? Any thoughts on whether it will be an ongoing issue?”

Island Health has not responded to these questions at the time of this post but we will post the island Health answer(s) when we get it/them.

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Councillor Jenni Capps Votes In Favour Of A Resolution “Safer Drug Supply To Save Lives” – But The Resolution Is Very Vague About What That Entails

Jenni Capps, candidate for Duncan City Council (photo: Cowichan Valley Citizen)
Jenni Capps, elected to Duncan City Council on 20 October 2018 (photo: Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Councillor Jenni Capps attended the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) Convention in Powell River between 12-14 April 2019.

Here is a link to the AVICC 2019 program and Resolutions [note:PDF, 96 pages]

On her Facebook page she reported the following about the AVICC Convention:

Jenni Capps spoke at AVICC in favour of Resolution 2Lowering the Voting Age In Municipal Elections To 16

She also voted in favour of Resolution 26, proposed by the City of Victoria:

Safer Drug Supply to Save Lives [proposed by the City of Victoria]

WHEREAS It has been two years since B.C. declared a public-health emergency due to increased overdoses, yet the death toll for those consuming substances continues to rise due to an unpredictable and highly-toxic drug supply;

AND WHEREAS people with opioid use disorder, a chronic relapsing medical condition, are at high risk overdose-related harms including death and an estimated 42,200 people inject toxic substances in British Columbia, it is not possible for the treatment system to rapidly increase services fast enough to manage this number of people as “patients” within a medical treatment model given the many challenges in achieving and retaining the people on opioid use disorder treatment, people at risk of overdose in British Columbia do not have access to a safer alternative to the unpredictable, highly toxic drug supply:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that in an effort to save lives and reduce harm due to an unpredictable and highly-toxic drug supply, and as part of a holistic response to the public-health emergency, including prevention, treatment, and recovery, that the Province of British Columbia work with local communities, Health Authorities across the Province, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, and the Ministry of Health ensure that people at risk of overdose harm have access to safer alternatives.

Resolutions Committee recommendation: No Recommendation

Resolutions Committee comments:

The Resolutions Committee advises that while the UBCM membership has previously endorsed
resolutions calling for action by the provincial and federal governments to address overdose-related
harms, the membership has not previously considered a resolution asking the provincial government
to work specifically with local communities to ensure that people at risk of overdose harm have access
to safer alternatives.

On the issue of overdose, the membership has previously endorsed resolutions requesting publicly
available, anonymized, opioid prescription rates, by community (2018-B170), a comprehensive and
culturally safe public health approach to the opioid crisis (2018-B142, 2017-B71). ”

Our Comments: We have some major reservations about Resolution 26 because it is unclear what it means.

Are the City of Victoria and AVICC advocating giving pharmaceutical grade heroin to addicts through prescriptions? If that is the case, we think that will lead to a Cowichan Valley replication of the situation described in the video Seattle Is Dying, which we have posted on this website. We definitely cannot support that scenario or that policy.

Or, does Resolution 26 mean a program like the Rhode Island program described at the end of the Seattle Is Dying video? The Rhode Island program involves putting addicts on heroin replacements like Methadone and it is a program we could support if implemented in B.C.

We cannot say more at this time because Resolution 26, as written, is totally unclear about what a Safer Drug Supply to Save Lives program would look like.

Until clarification is provided, we reserve judgement on this proposal and Resolution. But we will oppose any effort to supply heroin addicts with pharmaceutical grade heroin by prescription if that is, in fact, what this Resolution entails.

Here is the video Seattle Is Dying, which we have posted on this website. We note that video had about 1,700,000 YouTube views when we first posted it on 1 April 2019. Today, it has had 2,652,865 views on YouTube.

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