New mental health unit coming to the Westshore

Plus, Sober Fest, calls to rejuvenate the railway, and more

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Megson FitzPatrick

Good morning!

Plenty of new developments have been ongoing in the Westshore, as the RCMP announce a new mental health unit coming in the fall. Hoping to improve the community, Island Rail Corporation is proposing the development of an old railroad so locals can benefit from the transportation and profits through the upgrade.


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New mental health unit coming to the Westshore

Westshore RCMP station

Over the past few months, Westshore RCMP has responded to an increased number of mental health calls, something the force is not fully equipped to deal with. With the growing incidents, RCMP is making some adjustments to its team through a dedicated mental health response unit.

“In 2018, we had 1,163 calls involving mental health and then fast forward another five years in 2022, that number jumps to 1,622,” said Cpl. Nancy Saggar, the head of media relations with the RCMP. “That actually represents a 39% increase in mental health related calls for service.”

Saggar said the process has been an important matter in the community for some time, as trained medical professionals know what is best for the situation.

“Often in these calls, the individual is experiencing a mental health crisis; that doesn't make them a criminal, and we want to be really clear that this should be a health focused response,” said Saggar. “We do see violence that erupts there, and so that's why the police have traditionally been called, but again, we are not health care or medical professionals—we really need to start working with health care professionals to try to respond and triage these types of calls in the community itself.”

Saggar said the team will comprise one corporal supervising the unit and two constables working with mental health clinicians from Island Health. The mental health clinicians have access to medical records and medical history of patients or people the police are encountering in the city when we go to these calls, allowing police to make the proper judgment on the best way to work with the person they are attending to.

“We don't hold on to your medical records, we’re not going to be accessing them,” said Saggar. “It's going to be the mental health clinician who [accesses them] and they will provide whatever information is necessary and make that decision together of whether this person needs to go to a hospital or to community services.”

With a similar non-police response team known as PACT working out of Victoria, Saggar said this West Shore RCMP Mental Health Unit will hopefully begin operating in fall of 2023.

“We don't do a service to anybody when we're not able to give them the proper care that they need,” said Saggar. “The main focus here is giving people the proper care that they need and making it a more health focused approach.”

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Proposal to rejuvenate Esquimalt rail system to benefit Indigenous community

Island Rail Corporation (IRC) wants to rejuvenate the Esquimalt and Nanaimo railway system for the Island Corridor Foundation and its First Nations, municipal, and regional stakeholders. The IRC says the whole Island can benefit from the upgrade.

“The future of Vancouver Island and its growing population can meet the challenges of the next 7 Generations with contemporary rail as part of its growing infrastructure,” says Dave Hayden, president of the IRC. “Corporation’s global consortium of stakeholder companies is eager to have the private sector play its part in working towards Reconciliation on an Island wide level.”

With potential benefits like zero net waste, collaboration, and benefits going towards Indigenous communities, transportation solutions, and much more, Hayden is hopeful the plan will move forward.

Some of the proposed benefits and actions. Photo: Island Rail Corporation release

“We welcome and encourage the discussions that can bring about an inclusive and participatory outcome for Vancouver Island’s transportation challenges, while keeping Canada connected via rail coast-to-coast-to-coast; the future depends on its success,” Hayden says.

Around the 'Shore

🚔 RCMP searching for truck of suspect in Colwood shooting: After responding to gunshots on July 13 at the intersection of Metchosin and Terrahue roads, Westshore RCMP has now recovered a gun and is looking for a grey Toyota Tacoma. Mounties suspect the owners may be involved in the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to call 250-474-2264. [CTV]

🌡️ Record driest six months in Greater Victoria: From January to July, the Island faced record breaking dry spells, an unusual turn of events for BC. According to precipitation records, the Greater Victoria area, including the Westshore, has only seen 222.3 millimetres of rain water this year—the driest it has been since 1940. [Vancouver Island Free Daily]

🩸 Grizzly attack survivor asks BC locals to donate blood: After being attacked by a grizzly bear four years ago, Colin Dowler survived because of donations to Canadian Blood Services. Dowler is now a donation advocate and reminds locals that one person donating could be the difference in saving someone's life. Locations of blood donation in the Westshore can be found online. [CHEK]

🤔 How would you want your life to be different? Consult with a counsellor at Intertidal Counselling & Wellness. They’re Westshore locals and they’re there to help.*

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Community Events

🎉 Sober Fest: On July 22 at the Starlight Stadium enjoy a day of live music, comedy, and local vendors in support of addiction recovery. Whether it's a friend, family member, yourself in recovery, or you want to learn more about sobriety, make sure to purchase your tickets for the noon to 7pm event.

🎶 Patio concert: Bring family and friends to the Millstream Beverage Company in Langford on July 23 for a patio concert. Guest Sam Kaiser will open for The New Owners from 3 to 7pm, with tickets sold at the door—100% of proceeds will go to the musicians.

🏝️ Eats and Beats beach party: Royal Beach is the place to be on July 29, with live music, an international food truck festival, a craft beverage garden, a street market, activities, and more. From 1 to 8pm, friends and family can soak in a day of fun with the community.

What’s Offshore?

Ships offshore, July 10, 2023. Photo: Richard Steward, View Royal

🚢 The Ever Sigma is a container ship built in 2005 and is sailing under the flag of the United Kingdom. It is sailing from Tacoma, United States 🇺🇸 ➡ Vancouver 🇨🇦 and was scheduled to arrive July 2.

⛴ The Villars is a bulk carrier built in 2011 and is sailing under the flag of Panama. It is sailing to ➡ Roberts Bank 🇨🇦 and was scheduled to arrive July 4.

🛳 The United Adventure is a bulk carrier built in 2012 and is sailing under the flag of Panama. It is sailing from Kashima, Ibaraki, Japan 🇯🇵 ➡ Roberts Bank 🇨🇦 and was scheduled to arrive July 9.



These boots are made for walking!

Are you looking for some amazing hiking trails to try out this summer? Then look no further than our own backyard!

On his blog, REALTOR® Paul Brum lists 7 of his favourite hikes for the perfect outdoor experience in Greater Victoria! From shorter walks to long hikes, there’s something for everyone!

Westshore Snaps

Monarch in my garden. —Paul Young, Langford

📸 Snapped a photo you’d like to share? Send it with a caption and don’t forget to add where you live.

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