The Carlson Building on Argyle Street at Second Avenue has been the subject of numerous complaints in 2017. Port Alberni City Council is deciding whether to label it a nuisance building. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

The Carlson Building on Argyle Street at Second Avenue has been the subject of numerous complaints in 2017. Port Alberni City Council is deciding whether to label it a nuisance building. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Port Alberni tackles “big city” problems

City’s compliance staff unable to take on emerging challenges

The city of Port Alberni is seeing “big city problems,” said city CAO Tim Pley.

For the last six to 12 months, the uptown area of Port Alberni has seen an increase in what Pley referred to as “symptoms of larger cities.” These include people living at risk, theft of property, violent crime, substandard housing and people profiting from other people’s drug addictions.

“This problem is becoming big enough that if we don’t deal with it, it will become our number one problem,” said Pley on Monday, Nov. 20 during a committee of the whole meeting.

Two banks in the uptown area have recently added private security staff, the 7-Eleven on 3rd Ave. closed down after a number of thefts and the city has received complaints from people reporting that they feel “unsafe” in the uptown area. The city’s single building inspector and bylaw enforcement officer have also reported that their “toolbox is empty” for dealing with emerging challenges.

Pley pointed out a number of factors that drive “big city problems” in Port Alberni, including drug addiction, insufficient leadership and action from senior governments and holes in the local government and enforcement fabric.

“We have one bylaw enforcement resource,” said Pley. “Clearly that one resource is under capacity.”

The city also has an overabundance of commercial buildings—more than the community can support.

Pley presented four basic strategies for solving these problems on Monday, which includes reducing drug addiction in Port Alberni, reducing theft of property crimes, eliminating the centres of crime and supporting existing business.

There were a few proposed annual costs in his plan. A larger bylaw services department, featuring one additional enforcement officer, one manager and one half-time support position, would cost an estimated $220,000 per year.

In a manner similar to the city’s Facade Improvement Program, Pley suggested providing incentive subsidy to property owners to harden their properties against crime with the installation of lighting, CCTV and other engineering solutions. The estimated cost for this would be around $25,000 per year.

One of Pley’s plans is for the city to develop a function that can purchase and repurpose problem and strategic properties.

Councillor Denis Sauvé suggested a Crime Reduction Stakeholders Committee, stressing the importance of multiple agencies and the public working together.

Councillor Chris Alemany, meanwhile, suggested that a heavy focus on enforcement is “misplaced.”

“It isn’t what is shown to actually work as far as ending homelessness and drug addiction, and the crime that comes from that,” he said. “We need to enforce the laws and then ensure that the people who are affected by that have a place to go after we’ve enforced the bylaws on the buildings.”

Councillor Sharie Minions agreed. “As much as enforcement is a piece of the puzzle, we can’t enforce away this problem,” she said. “We have to look at how we’re going to help the people who are being harmed by this.”

She pointed out, “People living with mental health and addictions have the strongest chance of getting out of that cycle if they have stable housing.”

The committee agreed to hold another meeting to discuss this issue, next time inviting RCMP, city’s compliance staff and interested agencies to speak.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

3L Developments has stated it is pulling the plug on its plans to build a residential neighbourhood in the Stotan Falls area. The company has repeatedly offered to turn the Stotan Falls area into parkland, if the CVRD were to amend its Regional Growth Strategy to allow for a residential community to be built in the area. The CVRD has steadfastly turned down the development company. File photo.
Plugged pulled on decade-old Comox Valley development project

3L Developments say there will be no further development applications filed for Stotan Falls

The profitability of Victoria International Airport dropped by almost $17 million in 2020 because of COVID-19. (Black Press Media File)
Victoria International Airport revenues in a tailspin

While airport made $9.2 million in profits 2019, COVID-19 brought estimated losses of $7.5 million

(pixabay)
Simpson: Training for snowball fights best done in socks

It’s odd the things our kids do to make us proud

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

Terry Fong embraces his best friend Princeton at Incinerator Rock, which became the travelling companions’ favourite spot during five years of exploring. (Cam Shaw photo)
Tofino played key role in inspirational dog’s journey

Terry Fong explains his recently published book, ‘Princeton - A Love Story’

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

The Gardens at Qualicum Beach is now owned by family-owned The Care Group. (thegardensatqualicum.com)
The Gardens at Qualicum Beach has new owners

Family has travelled to Qualicum Beach for more than a century

Jude Somers of Oak Bay won the 2020 People’s Choice Award for her creation The Santa Train, during Habitat for Humanity’s 12th annual Gingerbread Showcase. (Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity)
Winners of Victoria’s 12th annual Gingerbread Showcase announced

Habitat for Humanity raises over $35,000 with annual event

Snowshoeing is gaining popularity in the community. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
Snowshoes a hot-ticket item in the Comox Valley

Pandemic has sparked demand for trudging through Vancouver Island snow

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

A fire sparked at an encampment between the Pat Bay Highway and McKenzie Avenue early Thursday morning. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Residents of Pat Bay Highway encampment to be relocated after early morning fire, site secured for clean up

Eviction notice issued in 2020, not enforced to allow BC Housing to connect with campers

Most Read