The conversation around public health and illicit drug deals along the Kingfisher and Albatross Avenues has come to light since a member of the public enlightened council about the issue on April 18.
The Oceanview and Viewpoint apartment complex is zoned as a multi-family residential building with 15 buildings and 200 suites but when the new property manager, Sarina St. Germaine, moved into Kitimat last September, she discovered that some buildings and tenants were involved in drugs.
“To the best of my knowledge I’ve evicted all my troublemakers and more specifically the drug dealers,” St.Germaine said to council.
However, “In the past couple of months there has been a significant increase in vehicle and foot traffic and drug related transactions that have occurred on my properties and around my properties.”
She reported the activities to the RCMP, and then she repeated her concerns to the councillors who questioned if she had proper lighting or security cameras set up around the apartment complex — she does.
“It doesn’t have to be dark, it (a drug deal) can happen at 9 a.m. in the morning,” St.Germaine said. “I want to live in a safe community.”
Councillor Rob Goffinet applauded her presentation and suggested she meet with the RCMP to discuss what can be done.
“We don’t know, but I think we’d be open to suggestions from you and especially the RCMP. You’re asking something that we all want for Kitimat,” he said.
A week following the council meeting, St. Germaine met with the RCMP.
Sgt. Morgan Graham said the RCMP will be following up with St. Germaine. The RCMP will also encourage foot patrols through the Oceanview buildings and property.
“We are aware of buildings that are more problematic than others. We will be targeting individuals in those buildings who are doing criminal activity,” Graham said.
“We are able to do more surveillance and project oriented police work which will target the criminal activity and the drug dealers that do frequent that area,” he said.
The RCMP sometimes meet with community health providers and the harm reduction committee. Graham said there are two areas in the community where drug users can pick up needles in a discrete manner so that users don’t have to use dirty needles.
Co-chair for the harm reduction committee at Kitimat Community Services, Davey MacLennan, runs one of those sites from Monday to Friday out of the hospital on the first floor.
They provide a safe needle exchange and harm reduction supplies including alcohol swabs, gauzes and tubing for pipes if someone is smoking.
The committee is actively looking for community partners to be a satellite site for better access for harm reduction supplies, including the safe discarding of needles. The hospital site is only open from Monday to Friday and the committee wants access to extend beyond those hours.