Loitering youth frustrates store owner

Frustrations have reached a high for a local business owner after the police were called to deal with some loitering students at her shop.

Frustrations have reached an all time high for a local business owner after the police were called to help deal with some loitering students at her shop.

“I’m getting cold to the issue,” said Janet Crandall, owner of Moose Trax on 9th Avenue North. “This just doesn’t belong in a retail area.”

Crandall is referring to the Youth Centre located beside her store, which also shares an entrance. Since the centre opened, about 18 months ago (six months after Moose Trax opened), loitering has been a problem – a problem that Crandall says is affecting her business.

On Feb. 24, a group of regulars at the centre were hanging around inside the entrance to the building. And when they were asked to leave by the building manager, things escalated, and the police were called. All of the youth involved were handed a suspension from the youth centre.

“They realize they stepped outside of what they should be doing,” said Patrick O’Neill, co-ordinator for the youth centre. “They know the rules.”

O’Neill has been working at the centre since November, and was aware there had been some complaints from Crandall regarding the behaviour of some of the kids, but says that improvements have been made. And tools such as the week-long suspensions he believes to be an effective way of dealing such incidents.

“I know that smoking was an issue, and they have moved away from the door, and down the street,” he said. “I’ve talked to (Crandall) several times, and we’re doing what we can to accommodate her and her business.”

Crandall is appreciative of all the work that O’Neill has put in, calling him “very effective” in the position, but still says that is not enough. She says the youth’s behaviour is “disrespectful,” and that it is most problematic when the centre is not open, and O’Neill is not there.

“I used to think that there was a way for us to co-exist, but after (Feb. 24) I don’t feel that way anymore,” she said. “I’m open for a miracle, but after 12 months of looking for that solution, it doesn’t seem to be happening.”

In the time that the youth centre has been open, she has seen a decrease in her sales.

Although she admits that spring is a slow time for retail regardless, Crandall says she sees potential customers (most of them being women, children and tourists) walk towards the door, see the group of teenagers hanging around the door, change their mind, and turn and walk away.

She worries that her customers are afraid to navigate through the crowd, which she describes as “intimidating.”

“It’s killing my business,” she said.

Crandall is one of ten tenants in the Patlar Building, and one of four that are privately owned businesses. Vivid Hair Salon is one of those four, and owner Cari Wilson says she has not been experiencing similar problems.

“I’ve been here for about a month, and I haven’t had any problems,” said Wilson, adding that she also hasn’t received any complaints from her clients.

Crandall’s space is the only one (other than the youth centre) that has a view of the street and entrance way, making the activity around the door more visible.

“If it was just once in a while that would be one thing, but it’s not, it’s all the time,” said Crandall. “After 18 months of this, I am completely out of patience.”