A local business owner believes the city, RCMP and Northern Health could be doing more to assist the homeless population living downtown.

Jesse Cody owns and operates a delivery company called Red Spade Enterprises that drops off packages to the downtown core on a frequent basis.

Cody believes the city should utilize some of its vacant properties to better assist the homeless.

“There’s empty lots downtown where the city staff, bylaw officers and the RCMP could allow people that are sleeping on the streets to stay during the day in a safe zone where they are not going to be kicked out every single day.”

“There are empty buildings downtown, there is one along 1st Avenue and Queensway that’s for sale right now where there are a bunch of empty lots with large spaces that have heating sources, bathrooms and shelters.”

He adds the city’s most vulnerable are also at their tipping point as they often get kicked out of their place on the street multiple times a day.

“At the end of the day, you have a group of people that are getting kicked out every single day from their homes, whatever their home is whether it’s a sleeping bag or a tent or even corner on the wall, they get kicked out every single day and by getting kicked out they are going to lash out.”

However, Cody is quick to point out that the situation is so bad, his employees literally flip a coin every day to see who will deliver packages downtown.

“They don’t want to go downtown, they don’t feel safe, we have a company vehicle full of packages downtown and they don’t want to leave their vehicle unlocked for any amount of time and they don’t want to be any further than five feet from the vehicle in case someone tries to get in and steal stuff.”

“Our vehicle got stolen a couple of weeks ago after we put some winter tires on it. The vehicle was locked up in front of their business on Queensway Street and it got stolen on the weekend, I then got a call from the RCMP to pick up my vehicle, they only got a couple of blocks away but I had to put a new ignition in it.”

The situation has even trickled into his personal life where he encountered a pair of incidents while by himself and with his kids, with one of them occurring at a convenience store on 20th Avenue.

“I took my kids to White Spot downtown and in their parking lot I got harassed by some people and we had people looking into our vehicle so I had to shoe them away. After dinner, we decided to head home and had a little bit of a headache so I went to the 7-Eleven to get Advil, I pulled into the parking lot, saw what was going on and diverted.”

“I eventually went back (to 7-Eleven) on my own and it was very obvious that someone was out in front selling drugs and people were coming and going through the window, passing money and getting a bag. It was pretty obvious what was going on.”

Prince George RCMP Superintendent Shaun Wright later commented after Cody spoke and relayed that the 20th Avenue location is one of the detachment’s top 10 most-frequented locations.