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HomeNews‘We are not turning a blind eye,’: Council addresses downtown issues 

‘We are not turning a blind eye,’: Council addresses downtown issues 

There has been no lack of criticism of Prince George’s downtown issues over this last week, be them over the radio or on online community forums. 

At the meeting tonight (Monday) City Council took a moment to explain themselves, their efforts, and their vision forward with the problems the city is having. 

Ultimately, a motion was passed to hold a community meeting to bring together some ideas and solutions, though the details have yet to be hashed out. Here’s what City Council members brought to the table: 

“We’re not turning a blind eye to this,” said Mayor Lyn Hall.  

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“We know we have an issue, but I will tell you that this particular issue has not left anyone’s purview for over three years. When we take a look at the downtown issues, there are no silver remedies, there are no golden remedies that are going to create an absolute fix for everything that goes on. I speak to a multitude of mayors throughout B.C., we’re all facing the same thing.” 

“It’s a tough job. Every municipality is suffering with the same issue. Is that an excuse? It’s not an excuse, it’s just the plain, cold, hardcore, facts about it. Is it acceptable because everybody else in the province has to deal with that? Not at all, and we understand that, we understand that we have to do something.” 

Kyle Sampson, who brought the motion for a community meeting forward, said, “It is a crisis, it is an issue and we need to realize it’s there and we have. Things change and we have to adapt as we go, as they happen we need to address them. We’re doing a ton of work downtown.”

Frank Everitt mentioned that after the fire seasons experienced in the north, people came from other communities and stayed here, “That’s alright, they’re entitled to stay anywhere in the province that they want. There are some folks that don’t believe they have the right to be where they are. We need to help those folks so that they have a place to go and they have a place where they are safe.  All across the province and across Canada, the epidemic of drugs is getting more serious and more compelling every day.”    

Councillor Cori Ramsay said, “To the public eye, the city functions as it always functions and it looks the same as it always looks because we are doing our work. It’s challenging to see the amount of work and resources that are going into this, but it is there. We are working incredibly diligently on this.”   

Councillor Brian Skakun said that he has been suggesting a meeting for a couple of months, “It’s nothing new. People do not feel safe downtown. Is there a lot of good work going on? Sure, but you don’t tell a person that is beat up, mugged, or don’t feel safe in their shop that everything we are going to do is making them feel better.”

Councillor Murray Krause was on board with the idea of a community meeting but was concerned that it may not be a safe space for people who live on the street or for the people who help those that do.   

“If there were any easy answers, it would have been solved by now and everybody would have a stable life. I’m not going to throw the people on the street under a bus because right now their lives are in chaos. Local government cannot solve all the problems of all the people in our community,” said Krause. “If it’s going to be a free for all, I don’t support it.” 

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Councillor Susan Scott, online from Vancouver, said she has heard the same issues from every municipality and every health authority in the province, sentiments which Councillor Garth Frizzell echoed as well.  

“This is the challenge of our time. I appreciate that we are trying to find Prince George solutions. Sometimes it’s flawed, sometimes it’s painfully slow to get from where we were to get where we need to go. We’re going to find reasonable ways to get this done.”    

The motion was passed unanimously to hold a community meeting where residents could attend or send in their thoughts on how to find some solutions to the issues plaguing the downtown core of Prince George. 

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