Increased shoplifting, increased vandalism, aggressive panhandling and even arson.
Those are just some of the problems that downtown businesses have been dealing with over the past 15 years since Seasons House was built, according to the President of the Quesnel Downtown Association.
And Gilbert Schotel says they’re concerned that the current proposal for a supportive housing project at the Remada Inn will see that behavior continue.
“I know BC Housing keeps saying that this is supportive housing, but the issue we have is there is still the shelter component within it, and we have concerns that the supportive housing and the shelter won’t match. It will continue to have the shelter issues. It’s also our understanding that a lot of the people aren’t going to be able to qualify for the supportive housing. I mean supportive housing is a great thing, we support supportive housing. But this proposal doesn’t address those issues that come from those people that do not qualify for supportive housing.”
Schotel says they have met with BC Housing but still have a lot of unanswered questions and concerns.
” We have concerns over the other vulnerable populations that are close or right next to the proposed location at the Ramada. We have the Child Development Centre, we have low income housing right next to it, we have the city library, we have a youth centre that is quite close by, so these things offer us a lot of concern considering what’s at play here. We have concerns that there is not a lot of information on the operating model. Our experience with Seasons House is there is a lot of crime that radiates from that location, and obviously we don’t want to see crime, we don’t want to see bad behavior continue in the downtown core.”
Schotel adds that the Downtown Association, the City, and the Citizens of Quesnel have invested a lot in the downtown core.
“We’ve been working very hard the last several years to beautify our downtown, to make it an inclusive, safe downtown that everyone can enjoy. That’s what we’re working towards. I mean we have facilities like the West Fraser Centre downtown, we want to host events, we have the Winter Games coming, we have Minerals North coming, we have hockey tournaments, the curling facility as well.”
Schotel says they have customers that don’t want to come downtown anymore.
He says that is sad for everyone as the downtown is a jewel of the city.