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'Break-ins, robberies': Whyte Ave businesses ask for more police, money for broken windows

A broken window on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton on September 26, 2023. (John Hanson/CTV News Edmonton) A broken window on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton on September 26, 2023. (John Hanson/CTV News Edmonton)

Fed up with violence, theft and shattered glass, a group of business owners in one of Edmonton's signature neighbourhoods is making a public plea for help.

On Tuesday, the Old Strathcona Business Association (OSBA) launched a letter campaign encouraging the city and the provincial government's Edmonton Public Safety and Community Response Task Force to help make the area safer.

"We are facing huge challenges with public safety that go well beyond what we, as a non-profit association, can do," executive director Cherie Klassen wrote in a press release.

"We recognize that the challenges we face in Old Strathcona are multifaceted which is why we need the provincial and municipal governments to step up."

The association is asking for "7-day/week policing" and an "outreach street team" to work with businesses, marginalized populations and law enforcement.

It's also asking for new City of Edmonton grants for security cameras and tamper-proof waste bins as well as more money for broken window support.

Since that grant was established, dozens of businesses have applied and nearly $10,000 has been paid out, the association said, while insisting more is needed.

"We've had several break-ins, robberies, and safety incidents over the last few months that have negatively impacted our new business," said Cory Richard, owner of clothing store Lewis Mayhem.

"The cost of repairing our space coupled with having to upgrade our security makes it nearly impossible for us to operate a business on Whyte. It takes a person 30 seconds to smash out a window and it takes six months for a business like ours to recover from the cost of that action."

The OSBA applauded a recent government announcement promising downtown prosecution teams and a crackdown on open-air drug use, but the association said more needs to urgently be done in Old Strathcona.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the public safety and emergency services ministry said the task force will continue to work with Edmontonians, including those in Old Strathcona, to improve safety but he did not commit to any additional resources for the area. Top Stories

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