2 Victoria businesses call on city to pay for private security amid concerns of increased crime
Ryan Burghardt owns Budget Break and Muffler on Douglas Street in downtown Victoria. He says a drastic increase in crime is hurting his business.
"Random kicking (of) vehicles, breaking mirrors," said Brughardt. "Unfortunately, on a couple of older vehicles last week, we had two stolen within 24 hours."
He says crime in his Bay Street neighbourhood has exploded over the last two months. He says the people committing these crimes are repeat offenders that he has caught on camera before.
"(It's) catch and release," said Brughardt. "The one guy who stole one of the vehicles was in jail two days before stealing a converter."
Just down the street at Ina Motors, the car dealership has had four catalytic converters stolen from cars on its lot over the last 45 days.
"This costs us roughly $2,000 a vehicle," said Masood Abdul, general sales manager for Ina Motors.
Overall vandalism to vehicles has also gone up, he says, and is more than his operation can absorb.
"Right now, it’s really terrible," said Victoria Police Chief Del Manak.
The chief agrees, crime is on the rise and his officers are feeling it on the street, he says.
He says part of the problem is how quickly police are forced to release people from custody and that all stems from federal legislation under Bill C-75, which came into effect in 2019.
"Essentially, for anyone to be kept in custody generally now, the crime has to be quite egregious," said Manak. "It has to be somebody's life that has been threatened. It has to be crimes against a person."
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps has written a letter to B.C. Attorney General David Eby about the justice system.
The letter says this policy of "catch and release" is not working and asks if there is a way to hold an accused until it’s better determined if that individual is a threat to reoffend.
The attorney general says no, and says his government is taking a different approach.
"We have an initiative called 'complex care' to recognize that the courts and the prisons are not going to be taking people in the same way they did previously," said Eby. "(The province is looking) to make sure people are stable in housing with increased mental health and addictions supports.”
Meanwhile, back on Douglas Street, both Ina Motors and Budget Break and Muffler are calling on the city to help pay for private security.
"We think the city should pay for that," said Burghardt. "We didn’t cause this problem, we’re paying property taxes on few buildings between us all and it’s nightly."
Victoria city councillor Marianne Alto told CTV News on Wednesday that she recognizes there is a problem and is working with partners to come up with solutions. Part of that solution could be to hire private security for the area.