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Taking a toll: Businessman has plan for Moncton downtown crime, drug issues


A Moncton businessman is fed up with the crime and drug use in the downtown area and has approached city hall and community business leaders with a plan to help reduce illegal activity in the city.

Thierry Le Bouthillier has seen his fair share of break-ins, vandalism and substance abuse in the downtown area for several years now.

Le Bouthillier is the owner of Bower Hotel and Suites and has five downtown boutique hotels and several other properties in the area. 

He told CTV News on Friday many of his buildings have been broken into this winter and he's spending thousands of dollars a month on security.

“In January we had, I think it was nine break-ins in 12 days,” said Le Bouthillier.

He's a big proponent of the idea of decentralizing services for the homeless.

That would see shelters and harm reduction centres moved to an industrial park. 

“The downtown core is our livelihood, it's the heartbeat of our city. We need to remove these services right in our downtown and to relocate them into a more appropriate area. And the I.D. zone, the industrial zone is actually part of the decentralization process,” he said.

CTV News reached out to the City of Moncton and the province to see if the idea of decentralization of services to an industrial park was feasible or if it was something they were even considering.

City of Moncton spokesperson Isabelle LeBlanc wouldn’t comment directly on Le Bouthillier’s idea on decentralization but did say the city remains in continuous conversations with the Province of New Brunswick to provide appropriate shelter spaces and support services. 

“Both the departments of Social Development and Health are involved (with the city) in finding solutions for our community,” said LeBlanc in an email.

Rebecca Howland, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, said shelters are privately owned and governed by a board of directors.

“If a shelter is to be relocated, it’s the responsibility of the board and when they are located inside a municipality, they are subject to zoning, and neighbourhood consultation,” she said.

“It is also important to remember that not everyone experiencing homelessness is dealing with substance or mental health issues or are involved in criminality,” said Howland in an email.

Howland added that people who stay at shelters are not always tied to that location, but also to the social services they rely on everyday that are nearby.

Services available in downtown Moncton include soup kitchens, medical supports, income supports, socialization, supportive churches, and places of safety. 

“People who use shelters are also tied to their community of friends and family who may live in affordable housing in the area,” said Howland.

Le Bouthillier doesn't claim to have all the answers, but he doesn't feel like Moncton is a safe place right now and he’d like to see city council do more to change that.

“In my personal opinion, the heavy drug use in our area is actually causing a large percentage of all these crimes that we are seeing,” he said.

His plea is for elected officials at the federal, provincial and municipal level to take the idea of decentralization and to really think about what can be done to improve Moncton's situation in the immediate future.

“This initiative of decentralization is very well supported by a lot of business owners and residents in the city and we've been very vocal that decentralization is actually one of the key aspects on how to fix this issue,” said Le Bouthillier.

The property owner was very clear, he doesn't want to eliminate the services, he just wants them moved out of downtown.

“Again, I'll say it clearly. The decentralization of our services in our downtown core is the first step in removing or fixing and to minimize the crime and drug use and what we're seeing right now in our city,” said Le Bouthillier. Top Stories

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