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Downtown business airs litany of complaints about overdose prevention site

Want city to declare site a ‘nuisance property’

A Campbell River business has reached the breaking point as neighbours of the downtown Overdose Prevention site and want the city to declare the facility a “nuisance property.”

“Within the last two-and-a-half years, the Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) has been open and active directly across the street from our business and to say the effects have been drastic is an understatement,” Pioneer Home Hardware Building Centre owners Theresa Handel and Allison Kilby say in a letter to city council.

The letter, included in the agenda package for city council’s Aug. 17 regular meeting, lists a litany of complaints against clients of the OPS located across the street from Pioneer Home Hardware.

“Incidents of open drug use in our parking lot as well as witnessing drug deals on our property have become a daily occurrence,” the letter says. “Each of us owners have been threatened, verbally abused, and intimidated by guests of the OPS site when we have politely asked them to ‘move along’ when found loitering in between staff vehicles or causing a nuisance on our property. We have had staff ask a group of shoplifters and known users of the OPS site to leave the store, and then be physically chased to their vehicles by the same people uttering threats. A customer was threatened with a knife by a user of the OPS site. Our customer asked the individual to ‘put down the product’ and a knife was pulled on him. When the shoplifter left the store with the stolen merchandise, he walked directly across the street to the OPS.”

Shoplifting is a huge concern since the OPS opened, Handel and Kilby say. The offenders face “zero consequences” and businesses are paying the price.

“It has become difficult to do business in a place where crime is so rampant and the individuals committing the crimes are not held accountable,” Handel and Kilby say.

The money the store has spent on security related to “combat” these issues is “abhorrent,” the owners say.

“We are frustrated and angry we are paying the price and left to deal with the fallout of the increased crime in the area. Thousands of dollars have been spent to upgrade security cameras, security systems for the yard, landscaping to keep people from sleeping on the property, and repair damages to the fencing which has been cut numerous times for break and enters.”

The owners understand the need for social services to be accessible to people who need it but say they are paying the price for the location of the OPS.

“Yes, consuming drugs while under supervision will decrease the death rate due to early intervention; however, the undesirable aspects of the program cannot be ignored and overlooked any further.”

The Pioneer Home Hardware owners want the city to declare the OPS a nuisance property and have the program held accountable for the costs associated with implementing a program in its entirety.

Other than being on the agenda, Pioneer Home Hardware’s letter was not discussed at the Aug. 17 council meeting.

READ MORE: Campbell River groups want more resources from province to deal with drug toxicity crisis

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