Moncton business community seeks solutions for city’s growing homeless population
HALIFAX -- Moncton’s homeless issue is back before City Council, with local businesses and homeowners saying the problem is getting worse.
“There’s growing frustration, a little bit of anger, and a real waning patience for solutions to this issue,” says John Wishart, CEO of the Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce.
Growing concern over the growing homeless population in Greater Moncton has the local business community looking for action.
“Especially in the city core, we’re seeing and hearing about vandalism, drug use on commercial properties, and it’s not a great welcome mat for the city’s downtown,” says Wishart.
“It’s disconcerting because it’s not what I remember, as a child, a teenager or even a young adult… things have gotten worse,” says Heidi Staples, a local pharmacist.
Staples’ family owned and operated pharmacy has been on St. George Street since the 1950s, but she says the last few years have been difficult.
“I know most pharmacies have extended hours into the evening, but with the current situation in this neighbourhood, I would feel vulnerable having to work late at night here,” says Staples.
The Chamber of Commerce is proposing a task force to try and come up with solutions to a problem they say is getting worse.
“Hear from as many people as possible, including the homeless, including business owners, including government, including mental health and addictions service providers, and really try to come up with a logical plan,” says Wishart.
But not everyone is convinced the task force is an effective solution.
“I wish it well. I’m not sure it’s the best solution, but if the community wants to be engaged, hey, let’s go for it,” says city councillor Daniel Bourgeois.
Bourgeois, who was newly elected in last month’s municipal election, questions what the task force can accomplish, and is calling for a liaison councillor to be appointed.
“The liaison councillor would take a month to consult all the participants and the stake holders to try and come up with immediate action, until the community police officers are able to do what they’re supposed to do,” says Bourgeois.
Wishart says he is open to all options.
“At the end of the day, if we can put all of those puzzle pieces together, maybe we can make a dent in the homelessness,” says Wishart.
Council will discuss both ideas at their next sitting on July 5.