Shop’s drip water system to deter loitering raises concerns for Victoria’s most vulnerable

ByShannon J. Cortes

Oct 28, 2022

Advocates for Victoria’s vulnerable population say a town center shop’s attempt to deter people from loitering by slowly dozing them with dripping water is demeaning and dangerous, especially for the homeless.

The drip system was installed under the awning of 7-Eleven on Quadra and Yates streets.

Emily Rogers, director of Together Against Poverty Society, says deterrence is an “inhumane and discriminatory approach” that could leave the city’s most vulnerable damp and cold.

“I’m very concerned that people who get wet from this water will stay wet and develop hand and foot sores or chronic moisture illnesses because they’re probably living outdoors,” Rogers told CBC News.

Water pipes are visible under the awning of 7-Eleven in Yates and Quadra. The lines slowly drip to deter people from loitering outside the store. (Kathryn Marlow/CBC News)

She says she’s noticed more “defensive architecture” in the city center that makes public spaces unwelcoming to people who don’t have homes.

“People are often not allowed inside businesses and our shelter system is totally overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the number of people who need access to a safe place. It just displaces people and is very insufficient,” she said. .

Owners say ‘unsafe behavior’ affects business

Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association, said its members were seeing behaviors that made customers and employees uncomfortable.

“That includes open drug use, prolific littering and, in some cases, strong, disruptive language,” Bray told CBC. On the island Thursday.

Stacey Kraus, who owns DTI Computers next to 7-Eleven, says she’s seen an increase in drug use in the shared parking lot outside the convenience store in recent years.

“Most addicts are pretty harmless…but sometimes it can get a little heated if you try to move them,” he told CBC News.

“I think at this point it’s what do you do if you have a prolific drug problem?”

The owner of a nearby business, DTI Computers, says he’s seen an increase in drug use outside the parking lot the store shares with 7-Eleven. (Kathryn Marlow/CBC News)

He said customers called him and said they were afraid to come in front of his store because of the number of people using drugs outside the parking lot.

Bray says the challenge is that businesses in downtown Victoria have no one to call other than the police to help them deal with such disruptions.

“It’s a lack of services, a lack of funded agencies to provide adequate support to individuals…but companies have said we’ve borne the brunt of it and it’s impacting our livelihoods…and our feeling security,” he said. .

“We need something different, but the app isn’t what we’re asking for.”

In a statement to CBC News, 7-Eleven said they are “committed to creating a safe store environment for our customers and team members.”