'I'd like to have my downtown back': Moncton residents concerned about crime and homelessness

In a town hall meeting held last week, many residents and municipal workers voiced concerns over crime and homelessness in the Moncton, N.B., area.

Apart from residents, an MLA, city councillors, Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold, and members of the RCMP all said they haven't been comfortable with the safety throughout the area.

John Wishart, co-chair of a downtown Moncton homeless committee, said the meeting went well and that it gave the chance for many to voice their frustrations.

"Almost everyone had a story. A shed was broken into, their home, they've witnessed people OD'ing. They're fearful for neighbourhood children. You stack all those stories on top of one another and it really paints a picture of some urgent needs in the community," says Wishart.

Main Street business owners are also worried about the number of homeless people in the downtown core.

"If you polled the businesses on Main Street, 95 per cent would say the homeless have had a detrimental impact on business," says Old Triangle Irish Alehouse owner Steve Gallagher. "It's lamentable, really. I do have empathy for people who suffer from addictions and mental illness, but at the same time, I'd like to have my downtown back."

"Nighttime? I wouldn't say it's great," says Keating's Tobacco co-owner Joe Vasseur. "If you're used to the area it's not the end of the world. But if you're from the suburbs and you're coming for a nice night out you can sometimes have a bad time."

Along with vocalized concerns, questions about solutions continue to linger.

"There needs to be a buck-stops-here accountability and ownership entity. Who is that or what is that? It's partially the city, it's partially the province. We need to build something that does that for Greater Moncton," says Wishart.

Residents can weigh in again at Thursday's meeting.