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Downtown dirty, unsafe, unwelcoming, city survey finds

The survey was conducted as part of an evaluation of the City of Prince George’s downtown initiatives.

A survey conducted on behalf of the City of Prince George found that residents are concerned about the cleanliness, safety and inclusivity of the city’s downtown.

The survey was conducted between Sept. 20 and Oct. 14, 2022 to provide baseline data for an assessment of the city’s downtown initiatives. The survey included 92 members of the public, both online and in person, along with 24 downtown stakeholders, including city bylaw officers, service agencies and Downtown Prince George staff.

According to a report presented to city council Monday, only 18.2 per cent of respondents ranked downtown as clean or very clean, 40.2 per cent ranked downtown as very safe or moderately safe, and 45.7 per cent reported a high sense or some sense of belonging and connectedness downtown.

“That 40 per cent who feel mostly safe or better is just not enough for me,” Coun. Tim Bennett said. “Ensuring we have a safe and clean downtown is something we, as council, need to be responsible for.”

Coun. Brian Skakun said people feel unsafe visiting downtown, “and they are justified in that, I think.”

“We have to provide some comfort and safety to the businesses and people visiting our downtown,” he said.

Dani Prapavessis of Coeuraj consulting led the project to assess the city’s downtown initiatives, including the Community Safety Hub, increased downtown bylaw patrols and Downtown Prince George’s clean up crews.

The final report includes recommendations to improve the city’s downtown services, but “there has to be more community ownership in addressing the root causes” of the social issues facing the city’s downtown, she said. The assessment model can be used to collect data on if those efforts are working, she added.

“We need to take some actions,” Mayor Simon Yu said. “The time for collecting data is over.”