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'Tide of human misery': Nanaimo mayor speaks out after recent crimes


Surveillance video from Nanaimo shows the alarming moments after Clint Smith, owner of an auto repair shop, was shot in the stomach on Sunday.

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, and now Nanaimo's mayor is once again desperately demanding that the province step up.

"There is a tide of human misery out there, and people don't want to see that anymore," said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog.

"They want to feel safe in their streets and they want to know those who need care, get the care they need," he said.

On Tuesday, B.C. Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth responded to Krog's call for action.

"We have been stepping up," he said. "That's why we invested $230 million over the next three years to hire 274 RCMP officers to fill vacancies right across the province."

Farnworth also laid out details of a previously announced $25 million plan that will bring together teams of prosecutors, police and probation officers to tackle a rise in repeat violent offenders.

That initiative is expected to launch in April.

Nanaimo's mayor says he commends the plan, but more action is needed immediately.

"We need to have hope," he said. "The downtown merchants, the people who work downtown in communities across this province, are done," he said.

"They're getting angry. Their reservoir of compassion is drying up," said Krog.

In downtown Victoria, there's a similar appeal for help.

Belinda Wallenburg, owner of Baggins Shoes, says the store has been the victim of vandals and crooks.

"We've just had our window repaired from thefts that were happening next door," she said.

"The local people don't necessarily want to come down because they're thinking, 'Oh my god, there's just so much crime here,'" she added.

Staff at Baggins Shoes want swift action from any level of government.

"Well, if there was more funding for maybe some more foot patrols downtown, or a security company," said Wallenburg.

Nanaimo's mayor says concrete measures, including secure, involuntary treatment for those most gripped by addiction or mental health crises, are needed.

"People are tired of being victimized by a criminal behaviour," said Krog.

"And the families of those in the streets, they're worried, they're concerned, they're looking for help," he said. "We need secure facilities. We need treatment."

The Nanaimo RCMP aren't confirming whether the person in the surveillance video shot Smith, nor have they made any arrests in the case. Top Stories

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