Michelle Denero has worked at the Blue Gator on Lawrence Avenue in downtown Kelowna for almost nine years, but recently she’s seen a drastic increase in crime, threats and public indecency.
Recently, while trying to politely ask a pair of men using drugs to leave the area near her business, one man jumped up and said ‘Yep, thanks for asking so nicely, we’ll get right out of here’, however the second man looked at her and said ‘I’m going to slit your f***ing throat from ear to ear’.
Denero didn’t phone authorities right away as she’s seen little come of previous reports. However, she and the owner of Blue Gator have been calling and writing letters to local mayor and council about the situation since May 2021 when the Downtown Urban Outreach Center opened with a safe consumption drug site.
The impact has been huge. Bylaw officers now regularly clear out laneways blocked by those loitering in the area and Denero herself was once even told to ‘f**k off’ whilst drawing on a chalkboard at the front of her building.
With matters clearly getting worse rather than better, one nearby business owner recently launched a survey of businesses in the area to gain feedback on their experiences in what is becoming an increasingly hostile neighborhood.