Following string of stabbings in Victoria, Chamber hosts safety summit

Officers on scene of a stabbing in downtown Victoria on April 15, 2024.

Following a string of stabbings in Victoria, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce held a safety summit with the city’s top cop among the panel of experts.

Seven stabbings have been reported to the Victoria Police Department since March 1. Two were fatal, including a stabbing that happened outside the Douglas Centre Plaza on April 9.

Police say none of the incidents are connected.

In response to safety concerns, the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce held a safety summit panel with experts to discuss the rash of violence and crime. Among the panelists was Victoria Police Chief Del Manak.

“When you see the frequency of the stabbing and violence playing out in our communities, I can’t really tell you with any confidence to say well it’s okay,” said Manak to the packed crowd at a Victoria hotel.

Manak says his officers are seeing an increase in people carrying weapons like knives. However, numbers released by VicPD show the number of assaults involving knives so far this year is similar to years past.

In the first quarter of 2024, there were 20 reported incidents compared to 13 in the same period the year before.

Despite these numbers, there are many still voicing safety concerns. CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Williams, says business owners have real concerns when it comes to downtown safety.

“We hear concerns about that we also hear concerns that people feel that it is being misrepresented. It is a huge widespread rampant problem downtown which it’s really not. I mean there are problems and I say this over and over again there are bad areas. If you don’t want to get in trouble, don’t go there,” said Williams.

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto has concerns about the dangers in the downtown core.

“Is this serious and a concern? Of course it is. Is it terribly different than other years? Unfortunately not. Will we want to change that narrative in future years? Absolutely,” said Alto.

Pacifica Housing CEO Carolina Ibarra suggested one part of the solution is more housing.

“When someone has a home they are able to stabilize and they are able to be protected from people who may want to take advantage of them. Often people think of people who are unhoused as dangerous and often they are very vulnerable and the victims,” said Ibarra.

VicPD says there have been no updates in any of the previous stabbings.

SEE ALSO: VicPD responds to seventh stabbing in just over one month in Victoria

Tchadas Leo

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