A business owner in downtown Maple Ridge, B.C., said he can not tolerate operating in the neighbourhood any longer.
Adnan Polat, Gold Rush Jewellers owner, said he has made the decision to close his shop in Maple Ridge and find a new location due to rampant drug use, threats and crime on the street.
“Every day I (have to) call security at least four to five times,” he said. “This is a bad situation. I (ask them) to please move, they do drugs and do not want to be interrupted. Most of them do not listen and argue with me. They threaten you, ‘I will break your window.’”
His window has been broken in the past, costing him $3,000.
According to Polat, the constant loitering and petty crime are affecting his customers and, in turn, costing him money.
“There is no way to do business here,” he said. “Customers call me and say they want to come to the store and if I can help them get into the store the back way … (The customers) are scared to (come).”
A security company that works in the downtown area said the issues are being felt across the downtown core at many establishments.
“We’re trying our best. (We are) trying to (mitigate) bad impact on the businesses but it sometimes gets out of control because there are too many (bad interactions),” Niloo Asadi, a Westridge Security manager, said.
“Businesses are frustrated by what is happening and we are trying our best to be everywhere. (We) try our best to escort customers into businesses when they feel scared.”
The City of Maple Ridge has community safety programs but one councillor said there’s only so much the city can do.
“Customers can not come downtown and shop safely. The main buck stops with the province … the decriminalization of 2.5 grams (of illicit drugs), the open drug use policies, those are the policies that truly need to be addressed,” Ahmed Yousef, Maple Ridge councillor, said.
Yousef said the city has a community safety officer pilot project, which is ongoing, and its second iteration of the program is being worked on.
“I do worry about (our) businesses. If you throw a stone in any one direction, you will encounter some sort of behaviour that is not conducive to our municipality and community growing,” Yousef said.
Polat said he is not sure where his business’s next home will be, but he said he just wants somewhere “safe.”