BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, accompanied by MLAs Todd Stone and Jane Thornthwaite, toured Victoria businesses this week that they say have faced increased property damage and a surge in local crime as a result of Premier John Horgan and the NDP’s makeshift housing plan.
“The NDP’s housing approach is failing vulnerable people and it’s failing local businesses — the situation is nothing short of a tragedy,” said Wilkinson. “The NDP has converted three motels into supportive housing but without any onsite clinical supports, you can hardly say they are supportive. These neighbourhoods are being turned upside down by crime, property damage, and threats to residents and employees. Every small business we spoke to wanted to see these vulnerable people properly cared for, but sadly the NDP government is failing everyone involved.”
Since this government began warehousing vulnerable populations in hotels throughout the province without the necessary onsite supports, the conditions around these shelters have deteriorated and neighbouring communities and small businesses are being left to deal with the consequences. Local businesses like Java Jo’s, Westcoast Appliances, Dodd’s Furniture, and Ina Motors in Victoria have seen their business turned upside down and now experience daily occurrences of crime, property damage, threats to customers, violent threats to staff, and people defecating on their properties.
“It’s important that we provide all supportive and transitional housing with full wraparound supports for society’s most vulnerable, because what we’ve seen here in Victoria is a prime example of how the NDP is failing vulnerable British Columbians with their unsupportive housing model,” added Stone, BC Liberal Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing. “By failing to provide the 24/7 onsite mental health, addiction, and recovery supports that at-risk populations need, John Horgan and the NDP are putting vulnerable citizens at risk, neighbourhoods in danger, and local small businesses unable to operate under the unsafe conditions.”
“I think it’s time that the Premier actually went and visited some of these areas in Victoria that he claims to be helping. These businesses are losing customers who no longer feel safe shopping there. Many spend an hour before opening each day cleaning up garbage, discarded needles, human feces, and urine,” added Thornthwaite, BC Liberal Mental Health and Addictions Critic. “Southern Vancouver Island is home to the Premier and multiple NDP Ministers, and yet they are continuing to let their constituents down by simply warehousing human beings in places that aren’t equipped to provide them with the mental health and addictions supports they need to get well.”
Gordie Dodd, Owner, Dodd’s Furniture, said: “We’ve got big sympathy and we do a lot for the homeless but the BC government is not doing anything. The system has all failed and we want to give a message to the BC government to do something.”
Jolanda “Jo” Machholz, Owner, Java Jo’s, said: “None of us were told in advance or prepared for this. Because of COVID, we can barely afford to pay rent and our staff. And this is just tipping the situation over the edge.”
Marlen Gjoka, Owner, Ina Motors, said: “It is not right that my employees and customers have to worry about their safety while at work and shopping for vehicles. The spike in crime to my business has been a direct result of the government’s purchase of Paul’s Motor Inn. Businesses in the area like mine should have been consulted or, at the very least, advised of the government’s intentions before this decision was made, but so far we’ve heard nothing,”
Byron Loucks , Owner, Westcoast Appliances, said: “This was a very quiet neighbourhood. Now, 24/7 we have a highway of people who walk from the Comfort Inn through our parking lot at all levels of intoxication, clothing-optional, often screaming profanities at the customers and staff,” said Loucks. “Two weeks ago, our store was broken into when a large steel bollard was thrown through our front door. I now have to confront intoxicated, screaming individuals daily as a way to keep our parking lot clear and our customers safe. My entire life is tied to this business. I now fear that because of our location we may be forced to close for good. We didn’t bring the problem to the area, why should we be the ones forced to suffer for the government’s decisions?”