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This article was published 14/5/2019 (386 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Property crimes in Brandon and revitalizing the downtown were major topics of discussion at a multi-ward meeting held on Monday evening.
The issues came up at the event held at the A.R. McDiarmid Building’s Cultural Resource Centre. The meeting featured Coun. Glen Parker (Riverview), Coun. Kris Desjarlais (Rosser), Coun. Jan Chaboyer (Green Acres) and Coun. Bruce Luebke (South Centre).
Around 15 members of the public came to the meeting, along with several city bureaucrats, to ask questions and bring up local concerns.
Residents said they were concerned over the prevalence of graffiti in the downtown and theft from garages and parked cars.
Mike Flamand, who lives in the Green Acres ward, said he was especially worried over a graffitied statement alleging rape painted on a building on Pacific Avenue and the fact that it hadn’t been cleaned up yet. He said it has been up for several months, but nothing done about it. Other residents also echoed his concerns.
"It’s not leaving a good perception for downtown, especially when we’ve got car shows coming up."
Brandon Police Service Chief Wayne Balcaen said he would bring it up at future meetings with city executives, but ultimately it comes down to the property owner to remove it.
Desjarlais said there have also been initiatives started in the past to deal with graffiti, including painting over it and using chemicals to remove the paint itself.
"I think it’s making a decision, what is the best fit for that (area) … making that decision as a community and then following through on it."
In a question to Balcaen, Desjarlais asked about whether BPS would consider boosting the police presence in his downtown ward.
"There is an appetite and consensus among downtown businesses to have a much stronger police presence. Has a downtown police depot been a topic of conversation and would (BPS) be open to entertaining it?"
Balcaen said the issue is over staffing and the main police station is already on the periphery of downtown, on Victoria Avenue. Police are also soon starting their downtown strategy for the year, which includes a heightened presence in the neighbourhood.
"We want to serve the downtown and make it a vibrant area. There’s a perception that downtown is unsafe and that’s something I can’t agree with. … It’s perception versus reality. That’s a perception that I’m trying to change and I know there are a number of different groups that are trying to change that perception."
Brandon Downtown Development Corporation executive director Elizabeth Saftiuk said downtown is improving and becoming more vibrant. She hailed new businesses — such as Chez Angela Bakery and Café and a new spa — opening as signs that downtown is being revitalized and attracting people at all hours of the day.
"That to me gives me the indication that there are really cool things happening downtown — that we know — but that there’s this sense of optimism among business owners."
She said arts programs, like new murals going up and painted crosswalks, also help to bring life to the area and show that people care about the neighbourhood they live and work in.
"(Crosswalks are) a small ticket item but I think people get excited about it. There’s something to be said for showing you’re open for business."
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