With a call to improve Nanaimo’s safety and placards in hand more than 150 people gathered in the parking lot of Country Club Centre in Nanaimo on Sunday.
The frustration among the rally’s speakers was obvious.
“Just in the last 60 days alone, I’ve had two break-ins, three vehicle break-ins, two shoplifting events, two store windows being broken plus plenty of garbage that I had to pick up. It makes it very hard to stay and want to be in business,” said Jeff Ross, owner of The Gold and Silver Guy.
Numerous speakers suggested crime is only on the increase with a robbery that ended in murder Monday, an armed robbery at a grocery store Thursday, and numerous fires recently set in vacant buildings.
“I got to tell you I’m shocked at the state of Nanaimo,” said Tereza Bajan, co-chair of the Nob Hill Neighbourhood Association. “The people on the street are not getting the help that they need and in turn every year it gets worse.”
The rally was the second organized in the city since one was held on the lawns of the Nanaimo courthouse in September. Those at the rally Saturday said the discontent in the city has not eased it’s only gotten worse.
“There’s vandalism, violence and shoplifting, stores are closing and there seems to be no end in sight,” said Karen Kuwica, the rally’s emcee.
Speakers called on all levels of government to take note of what’s happening in Nanaimo and take action.
“We want public safety, we deserve public safety, we need public safety and we demand public safety,” said Collen Middleton, another speaker who was speaking for the Nanaimo Area Public Safety Association.
Among the audience were Nanaimo City Councillors Ian Thorpe and Janice Perrino and Mayor Leonard Krog who when given the opportunity also repeated a call he’s made before.
“What I have called on the provincial government to do over and over again is to recognize the seriousness of those suffering with addiction and brain injury and trauma and mental health issues and provide the secure involuntary care that they need for others it’s a question of supportive housing and the kind of assistance to deal with their issues,” said Krog.