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A councillor in British Columbia’s capital city wants residents compensated for the lawlessness he says has taken over.

Coun. Stephen Hammond is proposing financial compensation for businesses and residents dealing with the issue.

“Residents who, by virtue of their business or home location are repeatedly exposed to the impacts of crime, nuisance and/or social disorder, question why they are paying the same taxes as other residents and businesses who do not have to endure the same negative activities,” the motion says. 

“One perspective is that the city should pay for some of the costs for responding to these activities for those who pay taxes but are not living the same city experiences as most others. Another perspective is that the city should pay for loss of the standard of peace and order that accompanies most of the residents and businesses in Victoria.

Hammond’s motion is currently before the City of Victoria’s committee of the whole.

Hammond cited in the motion a growing number of complaints from taxpayers who feel left in the lurch, particularly those near the 900 block of Pandora Ave, where the aftermath of the ‘900 Block Sweep’ has left nearby residents grappling with debris and a perceived lack of law enforcement.

In May, the Victoria Police Department swept the block of a massive number of encampments. The move was condemned by activist organizations. 

Homeless encampments have since relocated down the street and into surrounding areas, with little action from city officials to address the issue, residents and business owners have said.

“No one was surprised when tenters relocated to our Block and started accumulating junk almost immediately. Shelters and piles of garbage have sat without removal since the morning after the sweep,” one anonymous local complained in an email cited by Hammond.

“We pick up what we dare but we are not responsible for the location of these entitled, belligerent, messy, disruptive people. We are concerned that Bylaw has been chastised for doing their job and trying to respect those of us who feel trapped living on Pandora Ave and yet still continue to contribute to City coffers.”

Businesses, too, echo this sentiment, reporting frequent instances of property damage and insufficient bylaw and police intervention. The situation is so dire that some have resorted to hiring private security, a costly measure that underscores the urgency for city intervention.

“We have been saying for a long time how the amount of street people constantly on this street is affecting our business. We shouldn’t have to deal with this. Our customers should not be scared to come to our shop,” said one business owner quoted in Hammond’s motion. 

Hammond cautioned in his motion that he’s aware that any new programs must be sustainable, avoiding setting precedents that the city cannot maintain.

He is requesting that the council direct staff to thoroughly investigate potential compensation methods, taking into account eligibility, duration, and funding, while also considering similar initiatives in other locales.

True North reached out to Hammond for comment but did not receive a response.