A local church in Terrace has resorted to putting up fences after increased instances of vandalism and drug use on its property on Sparks St.
After consistently finding needles and drug paraphernalia on the premises, Zion Baptist Church’s (ZBC) board decided to put up the fence to ensure the safety of people who use their building.
Over the part two years there has been a big increase in the number of people loitering around the church property during the night, especially between midnight and 6 a.m., said pastor Brad Reid.
“The issue isn’t so much homelessness, or someone who wants to be sleeping or that sort of thing but we’ve seen a big increase in both drug usage, and also drug trafficking happening on the church property,” Reid said.
Before fencing the property, ZBC took various steps such as putting in brighter lights and security cameras. And while these fixes helped for a while, the issue still returned.
“Putting up the fence was disheartening, for example, even just the optics of a fence around the building doesn’t really jive with what we want to be doing as a church,” said Reid, and added, “as a church we’re committed to helping people, not pushing them away.”
But while the obligations of faith to be caring for the poor and marginalized remained, there was also a responsibility towards families, elementary school children and others who use the building for programs, he said.
Moving forward, ZBC wants to work with community stakeholders to find a solution to the problem.
“Our main thing would be that we don’t want to just kind of put up the gate and push the problems out, we want to want to try and be helping to to deal with the deeper issues and the solutions to that,” said Reid.
ZBC is not the first organization in Terrace to have resorted to measures to protect their property. A number of businesses in downtown Terrace have reported issues of vandalism, discarded needles and drug paraphernalia found on their premises this year.
The City of Terrace held a virtual town hall in July to address the growing discontent among community members and to seek solutions. In addition, the city also invested close to $55,000 and hired a private security company to assist bylaw compliance officers and patrol the downtown area after-hours.