A Port Coquitlam city councillor says the city’s downtown core is being taken over by a “bad element.”
“I have no other way to describe it, if you walk down there, it just seems like there are a lot of deadbeats hanging around,” Coun. Brad West told Global News.
West said vehicle break-ins and open drug deals are becoming commonplace in parts of downtown Port Coquitlam. And he said the area is no longer friendly to families and residents.
Discarded needles in parks and playgrounds are also becoming a concern, he said.
“When you’re walking downtown, you see someone guzzling beer in the park and then stumbling around, when you see needles in a playground, it’s unacceptable,” he said.
Back in September, a child was pricked by a needle in Port Coquitlam’s Fox Street Park while playing with a daycare group.
West said a purse-snatching over the weekend, in which a woman was stabbed, could be the tipping point to bring about change.
He said six additional police officers have been assigned to the downtown area, but added that more needs to be done before the situation gets worse.
WATCH: Young boy pricked by needle in Port Coquitlam
But Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore said West is blowing things out of proportion.
“We work had in our downtown PoCo and I do not necessarily share councillor West’s thoughts on that element. Statistically, it doesn’t prove out from our data from our RCMP.”
Moore said the city has recently adopted a downtown action plan aimed at dealing with what he called a “perception” of crime and safety issues in the area. But he said that perception doesn’t reflect the data the city has on crime, break-and-enters or assaults.
“We dropped our crime rate substantially about seven years ago to be much lower than most other communities in the Lower Mainland, and we’ve maintained that over that time period,” Moore said.
“We haven’t seen a spike in crime in the last six months or a year or so.”
Moore acknowledged there was an issue with needles in the city, but said it had been driven largely by a single non-profit in the area that was distributing entire boxes of clean needles to drug users.
He said the city had been in contact with both the organization and Rain City Housing in a bid to crack down on the problem.