Concerns about alleged drug dealing, violence and property crime have prompted someone to give a downtown Penticton rooming house its very own Facebook page.
It went live earlier this month to draw attention to Winnipeg Manor, a converted home on the 500 block of Winnipeg Street.
The page’s creator turned down an interview request, but a person who lives near the property hopes the added online attention will prompt police and the city to crack down.
“My feeling on the place is it’s not going to improve until the landlord gets hit in his pocketbook,” said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to safety concerns.
“I don’t have a problem with people that are down and out,” she added. “What I have a problem with is witnessing violence, is (seeing) obvious drug dealing going on.
“It’s to the point I don’t walk by the place.”
Penticton RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rick Dellebuur confirmed last week he was aware of the Facebook page, but noted Mounties need more than complaints and photos of suspected illegal activity to go on.
“We have certain rules and protocol we have to follow in order to determine who’s doing what, and it takes resources and time,” he said.
“Everybody wants (nuisance properties) to be cleared out right away, and it’s just not always possible. We’re aware of the one on Winnipeg Street and we’re dealing with it the best we can.”
One posting on the Facebook page suggests an uptick in activity at Winnipeg Manor is related to the June closure of the low-income Three Gables Hotel, a theory Dellebuur agreed is plausible.
“We try to have a little bit more lasting effect, but unless these people get into treatment or decide to change their ways, you (just) chase them and move them around,” he explained.
Mayor Garry Litke said the city’s bylaw officers are also working to address infractions at the rooming house.
“It’s definitely on our radar. We don’t tolerate these kinds of accommodations that create danger for people,” said Litke.
Winnipeg Manor has been on city council’s radar since at least 2011, when a notice was placed on title due to safety concerns and construction activity taking place without a building permit.
City spokeswoman Simone Blais said that matter is still “ongoing,” and bylaw officers most recently attended the home to resolve a complaint about garbage accumulation.
No one answered the door at Winnipeg Manor when the Western News visited this week. The property is owned by Dennis Hildebrand, who could not be reached for comment.
Hildebrand also owned a rooming house at the corner of White Avenue and Ellis Street that was destroyed by fire in 2011. The property wasn’t cleaned up until 2013, when the city dispatched its own workers to the site at Hildebrand’s expense.