There was a very interesting and well-attended ZOOM meeting of the Grandview Woodland Area Council (GWAC) last night. Most of the meeting was concerned with the concerns of the BIA and its members over security and safety concerns on the Drive.
The BIA and some merchants discussed what they see as ever-increasing numbers of “aggressive” pan-handlers, open drug and alcohol use, homeless people sleeping in shop doorways and on the street, illegal vending, and general lawlessness. They say the problem is now “critical”. There is no doubt about their concern, even though the statistics given at the meeting from the Community Policing Office for early October would indicate that Grandview suffered a tiny number of serious crimes; far fewer than most other neighbourhoods.
They are calling for significantly increased police, by-law officer, and Park Ranger patrols.
The most shocking claim was that Grandview Park — the central hub of the Drive — has been “abandoned” by the City and is now considered a “no go” area for police and Rangers.
There has been no official discussion about that, so far as I know, and I was rather surprised to hear it. I go by and through the Park most days and I don’t see a lot of change; it has been a daytime gathering place — and informal marketplace — for homeless and poor people for a very long time. There were a few tents a little while ago but that was settled by Rangers and offers of housing by a Kettle outreach worker. Perhaps the issues of violence and intimidation happen in the evenings when I rarely visit.
It would be good to hear an official police view on the status of the Park.
Other than increased police patrols, the BIA is proposing to convene a stakeholders’ group to discuss what demands they should present to Council for an improvement in the overall situation. They recognize that many of the issues are mental health related and they are keen to involve agencies of all kinds with the proposed group to ensure that a well-rounded approach is taken.
On other matters, the BIA estimated that local restaurants, bars, etc., have lost 50-75% of revenues due to covid and covid-related restrictions this year, while general retailing has fallen by 30-50% in the same period. They are concerned that any move to shut down non-essential businesses will create a cascading level of closures on the Drive.