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)

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.

 

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)

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

The proposed design of the five-storey building on Front Street. (City of Penticton)
Five-storey building proposed for Penticton’s Front Street

It will be the second time the proposal will head to council

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from St. Eugene’s residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

RCMP thanked the public for assistance in finding Benjamin Archie, last seen in Princeton. (RCMP)
Missing Chilliwack man found safe and sound

The 80-year-old had walked away from his home in Chilliwack

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Naramata community in shock as condolences pour in for homicide victim Kathy Richardson

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

Princeton GSAR responds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2020 the crew was called out 34 times, and members spent 721 hours on calls, and 683 hours training. Photo Princeton GSAR Facebook
Teen missing in Manning Park found after 24 hours

Young man spends night on mountain and survives with just a few scrapes

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The RCMP presence in Central Okanagan public schools is being reviewed by the board of education. (File photo)
RCMP presence welcomed in Central Okanagan public schools

Staff survey feedback overwhelmingly positive from students, staff and parents

18-year-old skier Logan Leach follows his guide, Julien Petit, down an alpine track. The Lumby athlete who is visually impaired has been named to Alpine Canada’s Ski Team ahead of the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (Contributed)
North Okanagan teen named to national Para-Alpine ski team

18-year-old Logan Leach officially joins Canada’s Para-Alpine roster ahead of Beijing 2022

Carina Stokes, bar manager at Enderby’s Small Axe Bistro, was recognized as one of four exceptional B.C. restaurant workers by the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (Contributed)
Okanagan bar manager recognized as ‘stand-up’ B.C. restaurant worker

Small Axe Roadhouse’s Carina Stokes one of four to receive special recognition from the BCRFA

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Most Read