New fencing, increased police patrols for ‘problem area’ of Pandora

WATCH: BC Housing is installing new fencing and Victoria Police have increased patrols in the 800-block of Pandora Avenue in Victoria. April Lawrence reports.

A fence is going up on the Pandora Avenue side of the former Central Care Home.

BC Housing is installing $40,000 worth of new fencing on both sides of the 147-unit homeless housing facility.

The increased security measure is a recommendation from Victoria Police, which they made in a report about the property in September.

It’s also a continuation of another fence installed by the Central Baptist Church in December.

Herb McEwen, manager of HJM Auto and Tire Centre across the street, says he’s noticed more drug activity and loitering in the area since the Johnson Street facility opened last summer.

“They’re sitting there shooting up, or smoking their crack pipe or defecating on my sidewalk,” he said.

In fact videos circulating online appear to show people openly dealing drugs right next to where the new fence is going in.

The videos  have caught the attention of Victoria Police, who are now investigating the people involved.

They say they’ve increased patrols in the 800-block, not as a reaction to the videos, but due to a recent spike in calls.

“It’s been one of our patrol priorities since the beginning of January which means patrol officers as well as officers from our beat and bike section are encouraged to be in that area and target loitering and drug dealing,” said Const. Matt Rutherford, spokesperson for Victoria Police.

Rutherford says police are also working with local businesses to try to reduce criminal activity, by installing better lighting and security cameras.

Victoria City Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe says increased policing and improved security will help — but the solution is much more complex.

“It goes back to the main problem with not enough affordable housing, supportive housing and supports for those experiencing mental health and addictions,” she said.

Adding that if we don’t address those issues, rather than going away, the problem will simply be pushed somewhere else.