KAMLOOPS — Sorriso owner Renato Uliana is doing his daily sweep of the back lot behind his restaurant and deli, checking for needles and other garbage that has only become worse this year.
"Sorriso has been here for 32 years and the issue is at its all-time peak," said Uliana. "It's affected my business, the businesses in the mall here, businesses on Tranquille, and we're fed up."
Aliana said business is ok as an established place on the North Shore, but it is down with an increase in the number of transients in the area.
"I've seen customers on the street and said 'hey haven't seen you, Charlie. What's going on? I haven't come down there with all the situation and I don't feel safe,'" said Uliana. "I tell them don't worry, it's not that bad, but people are starting to get the negative atmosphere of the North Shore."
At Totem City Motors on Royal Avenue, business is suffering as well, with customers afraid to be in the neighbourhood sometimes.
"My customers are actually scared to get out of their vehicles. We've had a few of them ask 'is it alright to get out. Are we going to be ok?'"
It's what many are echoing in a North Shore Business Improvement Association survey that went out in July. However, the NSBIA said it's only an issue in one area
"What's encouraging to us is this isn't a North Shore problem," said NSBIA Executive Director Steven Puhallo. "There's one little pocket near the south end of the Tranquille Market that seems to be a problem spot, and that was identified strongly overall as where the focus should be."
ASK Wellness, which helps the homeless get their lives back on track, noted the last year has been especially bad in Kamloops and around the province. The non-profit is trying to work with businesses to minimize impacts.
"I know there are concerns about actually just cleaning things up in terms of debris and needles, and moving people along. We have been doing what we can, but for us it's focusing even more on that and being responsive when the businesses call."
One thing businesses are praising is the Kamloops RCMP, saying increased police presence has helped.
However, ASK Wellness believes there's a need for a more collaborative approach to the problem not only with police and local businesses but with provincial and federal agencies as well.
Results from the NSBIA survey will be made public on Sept. 26.
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