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NORTH SHORE BIA – Lots can be done about social issues on the street

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

By JEREMY HEIGHTON
Executive Director, NSBIA
PLEASE INDULGE me in a bit of an opinion piece this week. I’ve spent some time talking with many members of the BIA and surrounding community recently and there are some things which I feel I want to share.

Jeremy Heighton.

Spring has come (and gone) and we have entered summer with a thermal vengeance. Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen an increase in social challenges that naturally come with the changing of seasons and the closure of some of our shelter beds.

These issues can range from panhandling to drug use, public mischief to some “unsanitary” challenges. I know what this feels like. I ran a 24-hour-a-day restaurant here in town for a while and was exposed to “overnight issues” daily.

Just yesterday, I came out of my office and found three discarded needles right beside my car.. (see the picture below). Do these things frustrate me? Of course they do. Just like they frustrate you.

When I’m walking the corridors on the Shore, talking to business owners and residents the same two questions often arise:

  • Are you aware of the issue and how much it impacts me?
  • What can be done about these issues?

The answers are: Yes, and lots…

I am the first one to admit to everyone I talk to, that there are no simple, easy solutions. The reality (in my opinion) is that this problem started a long time ago. That’s not to say I am a critic of the current system.

In fact, I’m very excited by the passion, focus, and energies of about two dozen organizations that come together every month in the form of the Community Action Team to discuss and act on initiatives, brainstorm creative solutions, and work well beyond traditional “stovepipes” to come together in solution finding.

So, what does this amazing group of inter-connected and action-oriented people accomplish? Almost too much to mention here. The challenge is that much of what we work toward takes time to accomplish. Some actions require legal changes, some require organizational shifts in thinking (history), others require creative funding and execution models.

The first rule of collaboration for a multi-disciplinary group is to strive for ego-less interaction — to not think in terms of what “I” do; to instead work to discover what “we” can do as a group. This is what already exists at the CAT team table, ego-less approaches to finding solutions.

The good news for our community is that there are many initiatives that have already been undertaken, and many more to come. In the coming weeks we will provide new resource materials for you, our members and community. You will have access to education, contacts, or become a voice of input.

We have been working on redesigning our website at the NSBIA, and once we have our safety pages finished, with links, numbers and other resources we will let you know. Until then, please know that there are many, many people in Kamloops who are working on solutions to our current challenges.

What can you do today?

1) Give us some time. By all means tell us what is on your mind, but do it in a way that educates us.
2) Find a way to become part of the solution. Join the BIA at our input sessions, join your neighbourhood associations if you live in the surrounding area, and attend their meetings.
3) Work with our CAP team, RCMP and BIA and Partners to create a better understanding, and suggest solutions.
4) Pick it up. Take pride in your business. If you pick “it” up, let us know.
5) Fix it up. Take some time to clean your frontage, wash your windows, re-merchandise your store. Give your business new life, and your customers new reasons to visit you.

Life is filled with situations and challenges. What defines us as leaders or victims is how we respond. So let’s all be leaders and work together to create a bright and vibrant future.

Thanks for letting me share.

Jeremy Heighton is the executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association. he can be contacted at jeremy@nsbia.com

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About Mel Rothenburger (5674 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on NORTH SHORE BIA – Lots can be done about social issues on the street

  1. I don’t know the answer to this question however I will ask it anyway, while I realize the limitations of the RCMP’s ability to expend the manpower, has any thought been given to foot patrols for the NS downtown areas? Visibility is everything.

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