File photo of downtown Courtenay.

Growth in ‘shady people’ raising safety concerns in downtown Courtenay

Survey of business community reveals significant levels of concern

A survey conducted by the Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association sheds some light on the level of security felt by downtown merchants.

The Downtown Courtenay Illegal Activity Survey, which closed Feb. 24, elicited 92 responses. Eighty per cent said staff have felt uncomfortable at their business due to a person(s) under the influence in the last year. More than 70 per cent have noticed an increase in urination and/or defecation in the area of their business in the last year.

More than 73 per cent of respondents said staff have been harassed or felt uncomfortable walking to their car/leaving work. About she same number say customer concerns around safety have increased.

Following are some of the comments:

•Almost daily we have customers make comments about the obvious increase in ‘shady people,’ and express concerns for staff safety due to our extended hours;

•Customers have not come into stores due to persons on the street nodding off or acting oddly;

•My clients will sometimes circle the block and show up late for their appointments because they’re too scared to park at the library.

Less than half the respondents dealt with shoplifters in the last year.

Nearly 60 per cent called police due to an incident last year.

Some respondents said public washrooms are needed downtown. Others said daily police foot patrols would help.

At Monday’s meeting, council approved a resolution from Doug Hillian to have staff investigate the possibility of installing on-street video cameras outside the Courtenay Library and other ‘strategic locations’ to enhance public safety downtown. His motion for a possible public downtown toilet facility, similar to the Portland Loo, also passed.

The Portland Loo is designed to prevent problems commonly experienced with public toilets. The modern kiosk discourages crime with graffiti-proof wall panels and open grating.

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