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

Somass River sockeye fishery estimates cut in half

Local fisheries closed; poor ocean survival a prime suspect

‘Lightning’ hits Sproat Lake for annual regatta

Alberni Valley Regatta Association hosted sixth annual races

Port Alberni track and field athletes excel at BC championships

Pair brings home titles in javelin, hammer throw

City of Port Alberni to discuss train station in committee of the whole meeting

City has received two “high quality” expressions of interest in redeveloping the train station

New gazebo for Alberni’s Heritage Place

SONJA DRINKWATER SPECIAL TO THE NEWS Residents of Heritage Place Assisted Living… Continue reading

‘Bad choices make good stories’: Margaret Trudeau brings her show to Just for Laughs

Trudeau says over the decades she has been suicidal, manic, depressed

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

B.C. couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran of Abbotsford spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Mercury tops out on top of the world: Alert in Nunavut warmer than Victoria

It’s the latest anomaly in what’s been a long, hot summer across the Arctic

Most Read