"Our alleys resemble a textbook ghetto" - InfoNews

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"Our alleys resemble a textbook ghetto"

Graham Argus says the alleys around the Kekuli Centre (pictured) are vandalized, frequented by drug users and dealers, and commonly used as an open toilet.
Image Credit: Google Street View
October 11, 2013 - 1:31 PM


VERNON - Members of the community are imploring the city to take action against the illicit activity, unreasonable nightclub noise, and public defecation they say is a day to day reality in downtown Vernon.

Graham Angus, who manages the Kekuli Centre, and works for the Vernon Safe House and Vernon First Nations Friendship Centre, describes the “unsavoury atmosphere” in a letter to Vernon city council.

“The quiet enjoyment of the tenants of the Kekuli Centre is regularly disturbed by the level of noise emanating from the nightclubs in the vicinity. The music from 2929 is often so loud after 11 p.m., the floors, walls and windows of Kekuli Centre suites vibrate. The ramshackle state of the alleyways around our buildings also serve as a haven, for chronic loitering, drug activity, drinking in public, vandalism, littering, illegal dumping and urinating / defecating in public, 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week,” Angus wrote.

“Sporadic” police patrols are not doing enough, and increased efforts are needed to improve the quality of life and safety of downtown residents, business owners, service providers and their clientele, Angus said.

Many Kekuli tenants are at-risk youth and Angus says the illicit activity threatens their recovery process. The nearby Friendship Centre officers services for youth, First Nations elders, young families, homeless teens and those struggling with addiction.

“With drugs being dealt and consumed along with alcohol in such close proximity to our offices, the strategies of staff and clients to achieve and maintain sobriety and/or a healthy lifestyle are unnecessarily challenged,” Angus said.

Not only are the alleys around the buildings frequently used as an open toilet,  they have also become a repository for old furniture, appliances and other types of litter, Angus said, adding vandalism is rampant.

“The odours from urine, feces and vomit become unbearable in the summer heat and raises health concerns for all individuals frequenting the alleyways,” he said.

“The unacceptable state of repair of the asphalt surface in our alleys is not only a health and safety risk for pedestrians and vehicles alike, when combined with the unsightly graffiti, waste and chronic loitering, our alleys resemble a textbook ghetto.”

Downtown business owners Jamie Miller and Ed Buie both sent similar letters to council, complaining about noise levels and safety issues. They are asking the city to consider restrictions on noise levels and enforceable bylaws.

The concerned citizens will approach city council at a public meeting Tuesday afternoon.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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