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'Gauntlet of human suffering': Nanaimo residents hold public safety rally

"Enough is enough." Those were the words echoed during simultaneous rallies across British Columbia on Thursday, the largest of which took place in Nanaimo.

People were out demanding change to public safety from federal and provincial levels of government. People in attendance accused the province of inaction on public safety.

Around 200 people were at Diana Krall Plaza in Nanaimo on Thursday. There, several speakers took to the microphone detailing their experiences with public safety concerns.

Many said not enough is being done and change needs to happen now. Concerned voices included that of Clint Smith.

Smith is the owner of an auto repair shop in Nanaimo, and was shot in the stomach in early March. The shooting occurred after Smith and several other people went to a homeless encampment to retrieve some allegedly stolen items.

The incident left Smith clinging to life – something he recalled at the rally.

"This is a crisis that’s going to continue to expand and if we don’t collectively demand changes, and demand some improvements, it’s going to get bad," he said.

Meanwhile, at the B.C. legislature in Victoria, B.C. Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon echoed those concerns, criticizing the NDP provincial government.

"They are rushing headlong into decriminalizing heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, [and] fentanyl without the proper guardrails," he said.

The grassroots movement for change that’s sweeping across the province is demanding the provincial and federal governments declare a public safety emergency.

Rally organizer for "Enough is enough," Collen Middleton, further explained the movement’s goal in Nanaimo.

"We see the consequences of the street disorder play out everyday," she said. "I can’t even go into downtown [Nanaimo]. I can’t work without driving through a gauntlet of human suffering."

Premier David Eby addressed the concerns.

"I agree with those folks that are out there. They deserve safe communities and our government is on their side," he said. "We've got their back and we're going to deliver for them."

Concurrent rallies were also held in Surrey, Kamloops, Prince George, Dawson Creek, Penticton and Cranbrook. Top Stories

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