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May 17, 2024

TIABC Voice of Tourism Newsletter – May 17, 2024

TIABC

I recently heard a story that left me speechless. Seems the ex-partner of one of our friends has a habit of stealing from retailers. When shopping for clothing, groceries, or other provisions, he fills a bag and brazenly walks out of the store without paying. This from a well put together guy that has a steady, lucrative income and a comfortable home…contrary to the stereotypical image we often have of those that commit these types of crimes.

It’s no wonder that many operators now view everyone, no matter their appearance, with suspicion for fear of theft or violence that can seriously impact their business and employees. I’ve heard similar sentiments expressed by friends, particularly in view of several unprovoked incidents around BC that have garnered significant public attention.

Last month, a Research Co. public opinion survey confirmed that more than half of British Columbians think crime has worsened in the past four years, and 51 percent fear they will be a victim of crime. The survey also indicates that 56 percent of BC residents blame addiction and mental health issues for the dire circumstances being experienced in their communities.

You may recall I broached this topic last year but only recently stepped up to see if and how TIABC can contribute to solutions to help prevent or deal with crime on our streets. As a first step, we joined the Save Our Streets Coalition (SOS) which was formed to compel governments to implement more innovative, aggressive, and comprehensive initiatives immediately, especially considering that much of what’s been done previously has not worked. SOS has called on the province and feds to:

dramatically increase the opportunity for, and immediate access to, addiction and mental illness treatment, recovery, and supportive housing on a regional basis;
broker the necessary agreements and judicial and legislative reforms to stop the revolving door for chronic repeat violent offenders; and
invoke policies that make gangs fear their futures just as much as citizens across BC fear for their lives.

SOS has enlisted the support of some 100 organizations province-wide, including sectors, business associations, DMOs, and individual businesses. And the list is growing by the week.

As part of the coalition, TIABC is committed to helping advance SOS’s recommendations within senior levels of government, and to advocate on behalf of our tourism members and stakeholders directly or indirectly affected by crime. More to come in the months ahead.

On a related note, the Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions is hosting the PROSPER Symposium (policy roundtable on substance prevention education and recovery) on May 30th in Vancouver with a lineup that includes representatives from First Nations, law enforcement, politicians, people in recovery, physicians, researchers, and policy specialists to put forward a new agenda that focuses on hope and not despair, and on recovery not helplessness. Tickets and information are available through THIS LINK.

I’m still reeling from the story I heard over dinner about the kleptomaniac who soldiers on, seemingly without guilt or fear of any repercussions. For the sake of all retailers and for the individual himself, I pray he gets caught soon.

Walt Judas,

CEO, TIABC

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