This is what greeted Okanagan Skate Co. owner-operator Steven Wach in downtown Vernon Saturday morning, after receiving a call from the RCMP that the store had been broken into. The fourth break-in at the store in four years at a couple of locations has Wach pondering his future in downtown Vernon. (Facebook - photo)

WATCH: Vernon skate shop closing due to crime

‘How can anyone stay downtown and economically do business?’ owner asks

Okanagan Skate Co. is closing its downtown Vernon storefront and heading online due to an uptick of crime in the core, owner Steven (Bryce) Wach said in a video he posted to Facebook.

The City of Vernon’s newly endorsed 2020 budget, however, invests in safety resources, including bylaw, police and fire services.

But, after experiencing several break-ins, a suspicious fire and losing more than $40,000 in merchandise in only five years, Wach said it’s time to close his doors.

“How can anyone stay downtown and economically do business when these are things that are happening?” Wach asked in his video.

He noted he’s not the only store on Main Street that’s experiencing trouble.

“The Royal Bank has pulled out, Birch Hill Studio has pulled out of downtown, the lady at Casa Bella has been assaulted inside her store,” he said. “People talk about being empathetic; what about being empathetic about the citizens and the people.”

READ MORE: Vernon board company victim of smash-and-grab

READ MORE: Drug offences up 81% in Vernon

“People aren’t coming downtown this Christmas because they’re scared,” he said. “There’s a stigma and whether it’s true or not, I can tell you from my experience things are bad and they’re getting worse.”

According to Vernon North Okanagan RCMP’s report, theft under $5,000 jumped 61.9 per cent in the third quarter, while thefts from vehicles remained essentially flat with a total of 197 incidents — two more incidents than the same quarter last year.

“Maybe if we pull our dollars out that’s the only way the City of Vernon will step forward and do something about all the dangerous stuff happening,” Wach said.

The City of Vernon is consistently taking steps to address the increased need for more security and safety measures in the downtown area.

“City council has made several investments within the 2020 budget to address safety and security,” communications manager Christy Poirier said. “Council has approved funding for the continuation of the Bylaw Compliance Seasonal Enforcement Program, Folks on Spokes — with an added education component — and the downtown cleanup program.”

“Funding for overnight season security was also approved,” she said.

The Downtown Vernon Association will also be receiving funds next year to run a grant program to assist with the installation of security cameras, Poirier said.

RCMP’s Downtown Enforcement Unit (DEU) also serves the downtown core and other vulnerable crime areas within the community. Officers, typically seen on foot or bicycle, provide a visible presence in the downtown area through proactive enforcement and targeted patrols.

“The City encourages all businesses in Vernon to take the necessary steps to help increase crime prevention and to contact the RCMP immediately if undesirable behaviour takes place,” she said. “It is important to file these incidents with the RCMP.”

Okanagan Skate Co. will be closed by the end of December 2019 and moving online. The skate shop is also seeking a new space in more of a joint-venture arrangement, Wach said in his post that’s been shared upwards of 95 times.

READ MORE: Police presence in downtown Vernon does more than deter crime

READ MORE: City of Vernon invests in safety, infrastructure, well-being in 2020 budget


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Okanagan Skate Co. owner Steven Wach will be closing his store at the end of December 2019 in the wake of several break-ins and a suspicious fire, he said Dec. 18, 2019, in a video posted to Facebook. (Facebook)

Just Posted

Penticton breweries working together to put city on the map

How seven small craft breweries brought global recognition to Penticton.

Flooding water at West Kelowna Tim Hortons closes lane on Highway 97

This story has been updated with more accurate information. Water flooding from… Continue reading

Albas to speak at Summerland Chamber luncheon

Event will be held at Summerland Arena Banquet Room on Tuesday, Feb. 11

Local businesses partner to support SOWINS

The Community Spoons invites people to help make soups the first Monday of the month

Kelowna grandmother scammed of $14,000 in phone scam

RCMP warn of Grandparent Scam in the Okanagan after December incident

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Campfires no longer permitted at Kelowna scout camp

City of Kelowna said they rejected Camp Dunlop’s fire permit due to stricter bylaws

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Okanagan team leads animal rescue efforts in Australia

Brad Pattison’s team arrived in Sydney on Monday

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

Avalanche danger closes Highway 1 near Chase

The highway is closed in both directions east of Chase

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

Most Read