Businesses in downtown Nanaimo are fed up with crime in their city, particularly with an increasing number of broken windows.
The latest window smashing happened just hours after B.C.’s Premier visited the city promising change.
It was 9:45 p.m. Wednesday when That 50’s Barber Shop owner Dave Lawrence started getting notifications from his security system.
He arrived minutes later to find the aftermath.
“It’s just such a shocking thing. I’m the Victoria Crescent Association president. I’m promoting the area. I tell people to come down here so to get hit like this myself is just very disheartening,” said Lawrence.
Police arrived soon after.
A neighbouring business owner, who had his own window broken by a vandal last month, came out of his restaurant and documented the perpetrator while he was smashing the window.
“I took the picture and maybe about five minutes later the police came,” said Sommai Daengsomboon, Owner of Zalathai Thai Restaurant.
Another neighbouring business owner came out during the window smashing as well.
“A lot of yelling. Nonsensical stuff. Throwing stuff through the window of the barbershop next door, but what concerned me the most he came this way. I definitely try not to engage with these people cause you never know what could happen. There’s been a lot of violence around these streets in recent times especially,” said Joel Martin, Owner of Mainstay Tattoo.
Police arrested a suspect 20 minutes after the incident. Intoxicated by either drugs or alcohol, the 46-year-old sobered up in police cells and was released this morning on an undertaking. He’s to appear in court on July 17 on a mischief charge.
“In the last few weeks, five businesses in this short one-block area have had their windows smashed. In two of the incidents, people entered and stole items inside,” said Kevan Shaw, President Emeritus of the Victoria Crescent Association.
This latest broken windows came just hours after B.C.’s premier visited Nanaimo saying his government is taking significant steps to improve public safety.
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“This uptick in repeat violent offending that we’re seeing is unnerving for many and is completely unacceptable. We’re fighting back with new steps to drive positive change in communities around British Columbia,” said Eby Wednesday.
Shaw says he’s glad Nanaimo is finally getting provincial attention.
“With the announcements Premier Eby and his cabinet ministers made yesterday is it going to make a difference? Well, the proof will be over the next six months to a year to see if violent crimes go down in Nanaimo. If it hasn’t, it hasn’t done bugger all,” said Shaw.
Business owners say the status quo is not unacceptable and if crime and social disorder continue they’ll be forced to move out of downtown.