A handful of businesses in downtown Campbell River don’t feel the area is safe.
That’s one of the findings of a survey conducted last month by the Downtown Business Improvement Association.
It says the goal of the survey was to “review how businesses were coping with reopening, any problems they were experiencing and how the Downtown BIA as well as the city could help.”
As the province moved into Phase 3 of its reopening plan, the BIA says most businesses said they were busy, and one said it was “crazy Christmas busy.”
When business owners were asked if they thought downtown is clean, the answers varied even from stores right next door to each other.
“For the most part, store owners said downtown was clean but could be better. Exceptions were the Art Gallery, the Visitor Centre, Spirit Square, Royal Bank, 13th Avenue and the Library Courtyard.”
However, behind businesses is another story, the BIA says, as “lanes and alleys are filthy with needles, litter and human waste.”
When asked if they thought the area is safe, the BIA says it received a wide range of responses from business owners.
Survey results went on to find that “only seven businesses, said unequivocally, downtown was safe.”
Some of the concerns business owners voiced included theft and the “aggressive behaviour by street people,” often during the day.
Numerous businesses said people sleep in their doorways and on roofs, and one business owner compared downtown Campbell River to a “low scale Vancouver East Side.”
The BIA has sent a letter to the mayor, council, the RCMP and the Downtown Safety Office addressing their concerns.
Though it says city bylaw enforcement staff are helpful, informative and want to help, it adds that more of them are needed.
The BIA is also asking the city to spend more money on safety and cleanup, as well as more foot and bike patrols around the area at night.
“The city just received the information from the BIA and council just took a look at it,” Mayor Andy Adams says.
“There’s no question that myself, all of council and senior staff are equally concerned with what has been deteriorating in our downtown core with undesirable and inappropriate activity, particularly during this COVID time.”
Adams says council has called a special meeting to further discuss these issues.