Pubdate: Fri, 08 Dec 2006
Source: Niagara This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Author: Amanda Street


Merchants, Residents Concerned With Activity On Front Street

THOROLD -- Two downtown residents and businesswomen made a plea to the
Niagara Regional Police Monday during a monthly Community Policing
Committee meeting. Joanne Buzila, owner of Spirit of Beauty, and Cathy
Mellor, who works at Windowcraft Home Improvements want to feel safe
in their homes and businesses. The reason for their discomfort is
drugs, a problem they say is taking over the downtown.

Buzila, who has lived and owned a business on Front Street for four
years, said she has witnessed many different interactions involving
drugs at all hours of the day and night.

"During my four years on Front Street, I have had a lot of varied
experiences where people have actually come up to me in my business
even and have asked for drugs," she told the committee. "And there's a
certain amount of risk involved."

She has witnessed suspicious activity and has a sense of discomfort in
her home and business.

"There's a lot of drug activity in the two block radius from Sullivan
to Albert and we'd like to see it cleaned up," the BIA member said.

NRP Const. James Taylor said he receives a number of calls regarding
drug use in the downtown core and the real issue is police presence.
It is not possible to have a full-time officer stationed on Front
Street every day.

"People who live in the downtown see the problem because they are
there," Taylor said. "If we can get the police presence there, we can
get these people out."

"A uniformed deterrent will bring the people back downtown and the
drug dealing out."

Buzila said the dealers and users will leave if they feel a certain
level of discomfort and there's nothing like constant police presence
to do just that.

Mellor has had her own experiences as the eyes and ears downtown, some
more personal than those of Buzila. On more than one occasion, Mellor
has been approached by a downtown drug dealer and would like to see
something done.

Mellor also lives downtown and together, her and Buzila plan to be the
eyes and ears downtown when police presence is not possible.

City Councillor Fred Neale, who sits on the committee, said the drugs
have deterred regular downtown visitors from stepping on to Front
Street. He said he has been approached by many downtown business
owners about the problem and he said stronger police presence is needed.

"We may have a cop walk up and down Front Street a couple times during
their shift but its not good enough," Neale told the committee. "The
businesses owners need to know who the police are -- and know they are
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