A downtown Nanaimo restaurant owner says more needs to be done to help those with mental health and addictions get off the street.
The call comes after a frightening incident last week part of it caught on surveillance video.
Delicado’s is a popular lunch spot in downtown Nanaimo. It’s just a block from a popular hangout spot for the local homeless population and its owner says the restaurant sees more than its share of problems.
“I deal with this every day,” said Chrissy Forsythe, a Delicado’s Deli co-owner.
“Whether I’m cleaning up needles, feces, I get people erratic coming in here every day.”
Last week, an incident left those at the restaurant feeling especially rattled.
“Some lady came inside and was like there’s some man out there punching himself in the face terrorizing little kids,” said Carol Brouard, a Delicado’s employee.
“There’s a daycare right across the street and there was a family and he was just harassing them and the mom looked terrified.”
Moments later the man approached the restaurant and the woman held the door closed to keep him out.
“He was yelling through the door that he was going to kill my employees and just having a fit outside,” said Forsythe.
“He wasn’t normal. It was like he was manic. He wasn’t all there and then we called the cops. They came and picked him up. It took three police officers to get him in their vehicle. It was crazy, quite scary,” said Brouard.
Then that night someone smashed their front window. Surveillance video from a nearby business captures a potential suspect. Chrissy Forsythe believes it’s the same guy.
“My staff is scared and locks him out and then you come back and smash my windows someone like that shouldn’t be out on the street,” said Forsythe.
Police say they are still investigating what happened and appreciate there are more challenges for businesses in the area.
“There’s a lot of pressure in the Wesley street area. We’re seeing that. We’re doing constant enforcement and sometimes we see improvements. We do expect the pressure to continue especially when the dryer days are coming,” said Cst. Gary O’Brien of Nanaimo RCMP.
“We need detox and we need rehab. We can’t keep living like this,” said Forsythe.
“Sooner or later everybody around here wants to sell. People are actively looking to leave and we’re hoping for change.”
Forsythe says many of those hanging around Wesley street have been kicked out of social housing and she says they need more housing options and supports.
She says she supports the Nanaimo mayor’s call for institutional care those the most mentally ill.