A Kelowna business owner is concerned for her staff's safety

Downtown problems persist

A Kelowna business owner is at her wits' end after dealing with daily altercations between her staff and a number of street-entrenched individuals in the downtown core.

Raegan Hall has run the Blonde clothing store in downtown Kelowna for 16 years, but over the past two years, she says her employees have been having more and more issues with people causing disturbances in her store.

“People are coming in and harassing them verbally. They are saying the craziest things to my poor girls,” Hall said. “They are terrifying my staff.

“The most recent one that bothered me was that someone was trying to light all my clothes on fire in here, and then a few days later a man came in fully masked with sunglasses on and just walked around hurling noises.”

Hall says she's empathetic to the obvious mental health struggles that the people who are causing disturbances are going through, but she's concerned for the safety of her staff.

“There have been staff that have left before because they weren't totally comfortable,” she said, adding that she's fielded tearful phone calls from her employees in the past.

“I fear that I will leave downtown Kelowna, and I really don't want to because I love Kelowna.” Hall said. “I do see a lot of signs, a lot of stores churning through businesses at a rapid rate.”

She says after writing letters to the City of Kelowna over the past two years about the growing problem, she doesn't feel supported.

“We call bylaw, they say call the RCMP. The RCMP say they can't write any of these people up because it's not going to go anywhere,” Hall said.

“I'm not exactly sure of the solution, but I would love to be a part of it.

“I love downtown, and I've always loved it. It's important for a city to have a vibrant downtown and that's why I invested in it in 2004. It's just gone off the rails.”

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