An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
A SURVEY INTO THE IMPACT of crime on Kamloops businesses provides some important insights into the problem. Sponsored by the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown and North Shore Business Improvement Associations, the survey found that criminality and social disruptions are doing serious damage to the viability of many city businesses.
Not only is it very costly in terms of damage and security, but the public’s confidence is being eroded, the survey report says.
“Business owners are not only struggling with economic challenges of today such as attracting and retaining labour, supply chain disruptions, the rising cost of business and inflation, in addition to taxation; they are also suffering from a crisis of confidence in our community’s ability to manage our criminal and social disruptions,” it says.
Top issues include littering and loitering, open drug use, hazardous waste, vandalism, needles and defecation. The biggest challenge in dealing with them, according to business owners, is the slow response time by RCMP and Community Services Officers.
There’s a sense of resignation in some of the comments by business owners, who acknowledge the burden those two agencies have in trying to deal with a wide range of serious situations in the city. But it’s something that has long vexed them. By the time a call for help is eventually answered, there’s nothing much that can be done about it.
The response-time issue epitomizes one end of the problem. While social service agencies tackle the daunting task of dealing with root causes, law enforcement tries in vain to control the consequences.
As everyone throws more money at it, one consideration should be the creation of a rapid-response strategy to deal more effectively with incidents as they occur.
The business groups deserve credit for taking the survey — it clearly defines the issue in a way that hasn’t been done before, and offers clear clues about what needs to be done in future.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.