Jeff Bray is the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. (rickcollinsphotography.com)

An honest and open conversation about Pandora Street

Jeff Bray is the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association

Lately, there’s been a lot of media focus on the street level issues impacting the 900 block of Pandora. Residents, businesses, and those that rely on the services housed on that block feel under siege. There’s a feeling that the street issues on Pandora are affecting the people who live and work in the area in a negative way.

To say that these issues don’t have an impact, or to pretend that these don’t exist, does an injustice to our downtown Victoria community. Harm reduction must involve the entire community, not just the clients.

The services provided by agencies are vital, save lives, and are desperately needed downtown. To say otherwise does an injustice to some of the most vulnerable members of our community. We can not police our way out of these problems, and surely no one is advocating that people who are clearly in distress should end up in worse situations.

The services are necessary, and they are impacting the neighbourhood. As a member of the steering committee for the Coalition to End Homelessness, I believe there are both short-term actions and long-term solutions that can be supported and acted on by all concerned.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Small business is downtown Victoria’s secret sauce

Together, we must first identify behaviours and actions that everyone agrees are not acceptable. Be that open drug use, open drug selling, setting up tents and other structures, or excessive loitering. Whatever those identified, unwanted behaviours are – that is where we start.

Social service agencies need to a) have additional funding to b) accept responsibility to manage the impacts in the area surrounding their operations. Police and bylaw officers must be allowed the deal with the identified, unwanted behaviours and actions. Clients can be asked to be more respectful of their surrounding environment, and residents can work to be more patient as things change, and ultimately improve.

Long-term, as new forms of supportive housing, second stage housing, and other housing options are built throughout the region, additional supports and strategies will be needed to ensure client placements are successful. If clients identify actions that will make them feel safer, then that will likely make everyone feel safer. Creating support service hubs throughout Greater Victoria will eliminate the need for much of the current street level population from having to travel downtown daily.

Having honest conversations does not mean making someone wrong, it means we can hear each perspective, and begin to build a small space for consensus. Collectively, we will then need to advance that consensus. It is also imperative for statutory decision makers to support that consensus through concrete actions. Working together we have created a safe and welcoming downtown, and now we must focus on Pandora.

Jeff Bray is the executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay deputy police chief and family cut Guatemala vacation short to return home

Belize border, punctured gas tank part of the adventure

Program makes a connection with isolated Victoria seniors

Phoning Seniors Together program lines up volunteers with seniors at Luther Court

West Shore businesses bring fitness online during COVID-19

At-home workouts offered to help community keep fit

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Most Read