Some recommendations from the Downtown Safety Select Committee have been approved by Campbell River City Council, including removing the glass stage covering at Spirit Square. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

Some recommendations from the Downtown Safety Select Committee have been approved by Campbell River City Council, including removing the glass stage covering at Spirit Square. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror

Council going ahead with removing Spirit Square stage covering

But mayor acknowledges need for ‘welcoming, warm place with support services’

The city will remove the stage covering at Spirit Square as part of a number of changes to downtown Campbell River intended to make it safer and more welcoming for everyone.

The city voted at their April 12 meeting to approve some of the recommendations made by the Downtown Safety Select Committee and defer others to a later meeting so that council could have a more in-depth look at them.

Council is moving forward with the controversial recommendation of removing the glass stage covering at Spirit Square while considering an alternative covering as a future capital project.

The stage covering at Spirit Square got the most attention from councillors, with points made about the effectiveness of removing the glass as well as the original intent of the covering.

Coun. Claire Moglove spoke on it first, saying that “This is a way to deter people who are considered to be undesirable from our Spirit Square area who are seeking shelter from the cold, wind and rain. I feel very strongly that to penalize and do something that will make people’s lives more difficult and more unfortunate… is really not the way we should be going.”

“If we had an alternative so that people could shelter… that would be one thing. But to simply say that we’re going to not have this available to people… it is mean-spirited in my opinion,” she continued. “As a society, we live in one of the richest countries in the world. If we can’t take care of people who are less fortunate to us, we have a lot to answer for.”

However, councillors Ron Kerr and Charlie Cornfield, who were involved in the initial planning of Spirit Square, said that the covering was never intended to provide shelter, and that, as Coun. Cornfield said, “the idea was to protect concerts from the rain.”

“There was definitely a reason why we did not put a roof on the stage at that point. It was left open. The reason was that any community that had a place that had a roof on it became a gathering place year-round for people,” Kerr added. “That was not the use that was envisioned for the stage area at Spirit Square.”

In early April, the Campbell River and District Coalition to End Homelessness wrote a letter to council calling the recommendations “mean-spirited.” Some councillors took the opportunity on April 12 to respond to those comments.

RELATED: Campbell River downtown safety recommendations mean-spirited, dangerous, Homelessness advocates say

Coun. Kerr said that “I think thinking it is OK to leave people out there in the square…but to not want them there is mean-spirited, that’s a total twist of the intent. I believe anybody’s intent on this issue is to have a location for them to go, but that is not the place.”

“We all recognize the need for long-term permanent funding for a … warming centre with showers, a meal service, laundry facilities, cart storage and … with counselling services,” added Adams.

Council will also expand the crime prevention through environmental design program, while looking at ways to streamline and remove barriers to access that program.

Other recommendations approved include improving the landscaping at some locations, installing more garbage cans downtown, expanding the security camera program and the infill street light program and continuing to fund the Get the Point clean up and peer mentorship program.

“I just want to make a comment on how awesome this program is and I’m fully supportive of the funding to have it continue and expand,” said Mayor Andy Adams on the Get the Point program.

RELATED: Campbell River’s Get the Point project helps clean streets, break down stigma

Council reaffirmed its commitment to safety and cleanliness in the downtown area, will lobby the province to open mental health and addiction facilities and to re-establish the Downtown Safety Select Committee with the same members in the fall to review the progress made.

RELATED: City of Campbell River endorses Spirit Square glass removal and other downtown safety measures



marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverHousing and HomelessnessinfrastructureNews

Just Posted

The City of Campbell River will purchase an automated external defibrillator (AED) for the Overdose Prevention Site after a letter from a local paramedic pointed out it doesn’t have one. Black Press File Photo
City of Campbell River to buy defibrillator for downtown Overdose Prevention Site

Local paramedic pens letter asking for city’s assistance after trying other avenues to acquire AED

Campbell River RCMP. RCMP photo
Two knife incidents reported on same day in Campbell River

Stabbing and knife fight both occured on May 13

Cash, drugs and weapons were seized by the Street Crimes Unit on May 12. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police recover cash, drugs and weapons after arrest

18-year-old arrested in Willow Point Park for drug trafficking

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Most Read