Sabina Howard and Brian Neden, security guards with Footprints Security Patrol, have been hired by the City of Nanaimo to keep an eye on the downtown core as the city comes up with medium- and long-term solutions to deal with safety and social issues. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Sabina Howard and Brian Neden, security guards with Footprints Security Patrol, have been hired by the City of Nanaimo to keep an eye on the downtown core as the city comes up with medium- and long-term solutions to deal with safety and social issues. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Security helps with safety concerns in downtown Nanaimo

City of Nanaimo looks into longer-term solutions for downtown problems

There’s improvement on Nanaimo’s Victoria Crescent with more security and events, but more is needed, says Kevan Shaw, president of the Victoria Crescent Association.

“We’re going to have to keep on this because … if you don’t keep on it, it deteriorates and will go downhill and we were heading rapidly downhill especially in the Victoria Crescent neighbourhood,” said Shaw, who has noticed a turnaround but says there are still problems with panhandling and people begging in areas they shouldn’t and he’s still seeing unlawful behavior everywhere.

A report from the City of Nanaimo earlier this year noted there are emerging issues in the community, most evident downtown, such as increased homeless population, public intoxication and substance use. Nanaimo council agreed to put $45,000 toward more security and an urban cleanup program, while the city also planned to install more needle drop boxes and come up with longer-term solutions to address safety and social issues downtown.

The Nanaimo Region John Howard Society has since taken on the contract for the cleanup program and two security guards patrol downtown. The city hasn’t decided what it will do about the downtown situation moving forward, but a report is expected to go to politicians this September.

John Horn, the city’s social planner, says merchants, business owners and staff members are pleased by the provision of an additional security guard and he thinks they’d like to see it continued.

“To really have a healthy and safe and vibrant downtown, where everyone is welcome including those who are homeless or intravenous drug users … it needs to be a sustained, focused effort,” Horn said. “Just because you had some good outcomes and people are feeling good about downtown doesn’t mean you can just relax because the public disorder piece tends to come back if you don’t pay attention. This is us catching up a little bit.”

The security guards put extra sets of eyes and ears on the street, said Rod Davidson, city manager of bylaw, regulation and security.

A challenge for bylaw officers, he said, is that they seem to spend more time dealing with street people and less doing other daily tasks of enforcing bylaws. Bylaw’s priorities and manpower will be discussed through the city’s public safety committee, he said. As for improvements, Davidson said there are a number of items the city can look at but it’s going to have to be a prioritization of city funds. The ideas are expected to be in a report to council.

Randy Humchitt, deputy executive director of Nanaimo Family Life Association, said his group joined the neighbourhood association in the interest of keeping staff and clients safe.

“It’d be wonderful to have permanence in the security downtown and I think if there was neighbourhood ambassadors that could develop relationships with everybody that hangs out downtown it would probably go a long way to getting rid of fear or an us-versus-them kind of mentality and kind of bring more of a sense of community than a fear-based relationship,” he said.

news@nanaimobulletin.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations with RV hook-ups

Nanaimo RCMP hope the public can help them find a 16-year-old who has been missing since Sunday. (Photo submitted)
UPDATE: 16-year-old Nanaimo boy located safe

Teen had been reported missing last week and it was thought he may have left town

The Regional District of Nanaimo plans to make its operations more efficient as it works on long-term goals around carbon-neutrality. (PQB News file photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo works to become carbon neutral by 2032

RDN committee of the whole members endorse plan developed by consultant

The Millstone River in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Regional district looks at value of Nanaimo’s natural assets

Report focused on the Millstone River could inform future decisions on corporate asset management

Protesters gather along the Pearson Bridge on Terminal Avenue in downtown Nanaimo last month as part of an event called Worth More Standing. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: B.C. hasn’t managed forests properly

Protesters opposing logging in Fairy Creek speak for many British Columbians, say letter writers

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused, Horgan says

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five western Vancouver Island First Nations celebrate legal fishing victory

Court ruling confirms Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights in case dating back to 2003

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)
B.C. moves to protect employee pay for COVID-19 vaccination

Most won’t need to take time off work, labour minister says

Most Read