Kelowna business owner frustrated by criminal attack

Andre Blanleil has owned businesses across British Columbia for decades and has seen countless changes, good and bad.

However, he says, nothing has been as bad as the escalation in crime over the past six to eight months.

“It just keeps getting worse,” said Blanleil, owner of a number of Andre’s Electronics stores in British Columbia and a former Kelowna city councilor.

It’s all over British Columbia, he said, but Kelowna has been particularly bad lately. In six weeks, he dealt with seven incidents, including thefts, break-ins, defecations on his doorstep and threats to employees. It cost him between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000.

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“We have had an influx of crime,” he said. “I know there really are homeless people, but we have a large group of street criminals and the RCMP have little power over them.”

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Offering a personal example, Blanleil said he found the person who stole a phone from his shop, and when the RCMP were told there was not much to do. The charges are not moving forward, Blanleil said.

“The Crown attorney will not approve the charges. But closing your eyes is not fair either, ”he said. “It’s extremely frustrating.

Blanleil believes the problem has to do with the drug-rooted street population and said it’s time the provincial and federal governments did more than just offer to house those in need.

Treatment facilities, long and short, he said, are needed as soon as possible.

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“I just can’t believe there is nothing we can do,” he said. “I know the long game is housing, but with (thousands of people) addicted to fentanyl in BC, we also need to think of other things to do. I don’t blame the city of Kelowna, they tried to do their part; provincially, we need to focus on treatment.

The City of Kelowna’s Coming Home Strategy is its five-year plan to tackle homelessness with a focus on making sure everyone has a place to call home. He mentions advocacy for more treatment beds, especially for young people, as one of his top priorities.

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RCMP Superintendent Kara Triance recently held a press conference on an unrelated crime, but said the RCMP were indeed in a capture and release scheme with a number of repeat offenders.

“The police are left between the health system, which is weighed down by the constraints it has, and the judicial system, where there are many restrictions and the doors more and more closed to remand centers that are full of people. policies and guidelines that I believe are important and modernize our justice system, but leaving individuals in general in their community, ”said Triance.

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The province announced in October that it would invest $ 132 million over the next three years for treatment and recovery services. This is part of Budget 2021’s investment of half a billion dollars to continue building a comprehensive mental health and addiction care system from the ground up.

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is working with health authorities to plan for the implementation of all of the improvements over the next three years.

When contacted, they were not able to say what would be specifically designated for this area with the new funding or what its perceived effect on crime would be.

This summer, Statistics Canada released its national crime severity index for 2020, which indicates Kelowna is ranked third overall, down from fourth in 2019.

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The Crime Severity Index measures the severity of police-reported offenses, including traffic offenses, with serious crimes being more important.

According to Statistics Canada, the national average for 2020 was 73.44.

Kelowna’s rating, which includes Peachland, West Kelowna and Lake Country, was 111.9.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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