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CVRD to remove two transit shelters due to misuse

District receiving complaints regarding alcohol and drug use, and unhoused people

The transit shelters at Village Green Mall and on James Street, in front of Cowichan Secondary School, will be removed after the Cowichan Valley Regional District received complaints they are being used inappropriately.

The district’s committee of the whole made the decision at its meeting on March 27 after Jim Wakeham, the CVRD’s senior manager of facilities and transit management, said that over the past year, transit staff in the district have been dealing with numerous complaints from transit customers, businesses, and the Cowichan transit operating company Transdev, on behalf of its drivers and management, regarding inappropriate uses of some transit shelters in the core area.


The misuse involves loitering, open drug and alcohol use, and increasingly, unhoused individuals using the transit shelters as a place to stay.

“There is a misuse of shelters throughout the core area, but the worst is taking place at the two transit shelters located at CVRD’s main transit exchange at Village Green Mall in Duncan, and at the shelter on James Street in front of Cowichan Secondary School, which is across from the emergency warming centre at Cowichan Community Centre,” Wakeham said.

“The misuse of these shelters has generated concerns regarding safety, cleanliness, and increased maintenance.”

Wakeham said that due to the unsightly condition the shelters are left in from inappropriate use and mostly overnight activity, the CVRD and other stakeholders have needed to spend a lot more time attending to the locations, doing inspections, and spending additional budget funds on extra cleaning and pressure washing the transit shelters with disinfectant.


“With respect to the misuse of the bus shelter on James Street at Cowichan Secondary School, this location has become increasingly problematic since December, and notably when the emergency weather shelter at CCC is very busy or is closed, as this transit stop is the closest location that unhoused people have access to when leaving the EWC,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this transit shelter is located right in front of the high school, which means it is also within very close proximity to minors. For the past year, other shelters in the core area, such as Beverly Street by VIU and Cowichan District Hospital, have seen similar increased misuse of the space, vandalism and more repairs and cleaning are required.”

Wakeham said CVRD transit staff have been in discussion with various stakeholders in an attempt to determine the best course of action to alleviate the issues associated with the misuse of the transit shelters in the core area.

“However, the broader societal challenges related to misuse of the transit shelters are beyond the capacity of the division,” he said.

Wakeham said the misuse of the transit shelters on James Street and on Beverly Street seem to be a direct result of the close proximity to the emergency shelter at CCC, and when the emergency shelter closes at the end of March, it’s expected that some of the unhoused people will likely take up space at these two transit shelters, causing further issues for the transit customers and the CVRD’s ability to keep the shelters maintained and reasonably clean.

The committee also decided to send a letter to the province stating that issues around homelessness and drug use are the responsibility of senior levels of government and that action should be taken.

But Aaron Stone, chair of the CVRD, pointed out that those issues are already well known by senior levels of government.

“I don’t want to sound jaded, but we can write letters until our hands are broken and bleeding, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to advocate,” he said.

“Some of the commentary I’ve heard [at the table] that there’s more work to be done at the local level felt insulting to me. There are people at this board who spend days every week working on these issues and it’s been going on for years…Until senior levels of government are pressed on this as the biggest issue they need to deal with, we’re not going to see change.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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