Terrace business owners say they continue to bear the brunt of the city’s myriad social issues and increasing crime.
Liz Smaha, executive director of the Kermodei Tourism Society is calling on Terrace’s mayor and council to raise these concerns before the Union of BC Municipalities and North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA).
“Our community is in a severe crisis; our business community can not sustain this,” Smaha told the council in a Feb. 23 letter.
“We are going to see businesses shut down. They will not get employees willing to put themselves in harm’s way for an entry-level job that pays minimum wages,” she added.
Smaha penned the letter after witnessing a physical altercation outside the Terrace Visitor Centre where a man was allegedly beating a woman. Talking about the escalating level of violence of that incident, Smaha said a knife was thrown at an RCMP officer who arrived on scene.
As the head of Terrace’s destination marketing organization, Smaha said these incidents make it “hard for her to do her job” which cater to tourism growth for Terrace.
“To attract new industries, companies, or residents to our community, something has to change,” Smaha said.
She listed over 10 instances of break and enters, theft and assault that took place in February alone at stores such as Gemma’s, Bubble Land, Carters Jewellers, Staples, The Cove Boutique, All Star Shoes, Luna Salon and the Terrace Visitor Centre, among others.
Although downtown businesses have been reporting property crimes and assaults for several years, they have been seeing an increased rate in criminal activities recently.
“When thieves can no longer get what they need from businesses because businesses have closed or have bars on their windows and doors, I am afraid we will have an even more severe problem as they start to target homeowners with home invasions,” Smaha said in the letter.
In January, the Terrace RCMP issued a public advisory after reporting an unusually high number of break and enters in the city.
In July last year, the city held a virtual town hall to discuss the downtown crisis where residents and business owners voiced their concerns, following which in August, the city hired a social development coordinator.
While receiving the report of the meeting earlier this week, Coun. Sean Bujtas did say that the city needs to bang on the doors of Victoria and get the province to divert more attention to these issues faced by the northwest.
In a March 3 meeting, the City of Terrace will discuss submitting a resolution to the NCLGA for its 2022 annual general meeting. The resolution will raise the concern of repeat offenders being routinely released back on the streets as well the BC Prosecution’s hesitation to press charges against cases that are referred by the RCMP. The resolution is supported by letters from many Terrace business owners as well as the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area Society.