David Kim, owner of Madrone Environmental Services Ltd., said moving his business from Canada Avenue to 470 Trans-Canada Hwy., in the middle of the highway corridor, in recent weeks was the best decision he ever made for the company.
That section of Duncan has long been notorious for drug use, homeless people and crime, but Kim said he and his staff feel welcome there and he has gotten involved with some initiatives begun by neighbouring businesses to clean up the neighbourhood and help those that need it.
“I love it here,” he said.
“We moved here from our location on Canada Avenue, where we operated from for about 20 years, mainly because we’re a growing business and we needed more space. Some of my staff were concerned at first as the rear of the building backs onto Whistler Street, but since we moved here, they say they feel safer than where we were before. I feel that too. This is exactly what we were looking for.”
Kim said that once renovations on the new location began in the fall, Will Arnold, owner of nearby Experience Cycling and a community leader in efforts to clean up the area and make it safe for everyone, visited him.
“I call Will the ‘King of Whistler Street’ because he knows everyone in the area and is very well respected,” he said.
“He’s a very passionate man about this neighbourhood and I got behind some of his initiatives to improve the area.”
Arnold said he was pleased to welcome Kim to what he calls the Saturday morning club for the first time on Jan. 28. The group cleans up the garbage and debris left in front of businesses in the area from the night before each Saturday before the businesses open.
He said nine volunteers took part in the clean up that day, including North Cowichan’s Mayor Rob Douglas and Coun. Chris Istace.
“Dave also interacts with the homeless in the area and I think that’s great because many people are afraid to engage with them,” Arnold said.
“It’s nice to see him look out for them and see if they need anything.”
Kim said it’s the least he can do to help the less fortunate.
“They are fellow human beings in an unfortunate situation, and I feel compassion for them is important,” he said.
Arnold said many businesses in that area of the corridor have agreed to work together to address the issues there, and their dedication has been paying dividends.
He said he still sees drug use in the area, but the instances of graffiti and vandalism have gone down.
“All the businesses communicate with each other and work together to invest in the buildings and clean up the streets,” Arnold said.
“Things are getting better here because each business is not on its own and we try to make everyone feel that they are part of a network that looks out for each other. We’re a real community here.”
Kim said it’s that spirit of community, one that he never felt in the old location, that he likes so much.
“My staff and I are so pleased to be here,” he said.
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