Vacant building in Williamsville district a concern for some business owners
Despite efforts to revitalize the Williamsville district, some business owners in the area say vacant buildings are still an issue.
Const. Steve Koopman from Kingston Police posted several tweets early Thursday morning about what he called a “flophouse” on Princess Street in the district. He and at least one other officer raided the abandoned building on Wednesday evening. He said he was moved by the experience.
As Koopman put it in one of his tweets, “good Samaritans” called the police concerned about a woman on the roof of the building.
According to Koopman’s tweets, once inside, police found a woman and a man passed out on a couch, along with alleged drug paraphernalia, including a meth pipe that was found under some cushions.
The Williamsville Main Street Study was introduced in 2010 and approved by the city in 2012 as a way to rejuvenate midtown Kingston. Since then, many new developments have started popping up along the Princess Street corridor. Nevertheless, some business owners nearby say the revitalization efforts haven’t ridden the neighbourhood of its rough edges.
CKWS spoke to a number of local business owners who said they didn’t want to appear on camera, but who admitted there have been issues of vandalism and theft in the district.
Ashan Baksh owns Trek Bicycle Kingston, which is right across the street from the building the police raided Wednesday evening.
“Of course, there are always concerns that we have in having squatters close to us, for sure.”
Shammy Tarshishi, owner of House of Donair, can vouch for instances of vandalism in the neighbourhood.
“I have a customer come in, she has a bike. She was worried to leave it outside. We had to bring it in because there are some stolen bikes here.”
Tarshishi says he has also had to deal with individuals harassing customers in his restaurant and loitering outside his store.
“When I deal with those people sitting on my door, I don’t know if those people will attack me back — like, they will be high.”
Despite most of the Williamsville District revitalization being done, there are several unfinished projects in that area, including two 10-storey condominiums called University Suites that were held up by an OMB appeal.
The building that the police raided Wednesday evening is a structure meant to be demolished for that project. The OMB gave University Suites approval in late January of this year, but it’s unclear when the derelect building will be demolished.
According to Koopman’s tweets, the male and female found in that same building were removed without incident. Emergency services were on hand but the couple refused assistance and walked away.
CKWS reached out to police for comment, but did not receive a response.
We also tried to reach Const. Koopman, but received no response. Nevertheless, Koopman tweeted that the two in the home were drug impaired.
“For anyone that romanticized or downplays drugs, this was sobering,” the police officer tweeted.
— With files from Heather Senoran
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