The next steps are unclear for a controversial staircase downtown.
Following reconsideration by one of its members, the city’s development and sustainability committee will once again review a downtown staircase connecting West Seymour Street and McIntosh Street behind The Mustard Seed.
Coun. Dieter Dudy told council on Tuesday he wants to reconsider an earlier decision by the committee to improve lighting, due to neighbourhood concerns about safety.
A petition with more than 100 signatures went to the committee earlier this summer, calling for removal of the staircase.
Last year, the city’s bylaws department received 48 calls linked to transients, health and safety, graffiti and alcohol in connection to the location.
There have also been 15 calls to police in the past 18 months linked to unwanted persons, loitering and drug use.
The petition, signed largely by downtown area residents, calls on the city to remove the stairwell in a bid to reduce the number of such incidents.
The petition notes there is a walking path located nearby, along West Victoria Street.
However, city staff advised against removing the staircase, linking problems to larger social issues unlikely to be resolved as a result of removing the connector.
It would cost the city between $11,000 and $18,000 to remove the staircase, depending on whether it was done during or after the West Victoria Street reconstruction project .
Taking staff’s advice, the committee elected to investigate improved lighting, rather than remove the staircase — a decision that was intended to be rubber-stamped at council this week.
However, Dudy told council he received a “disturbing” letter that led him to rethink the issue.
He told KTW a neighbour to the stairwell disclosed incidents such as masturbation frequently taking place in that location.
With mental-health and substance-use issues at the core of the problem, Dudy said he at least wants to review the issue again at the committee level.
“It’s affecting the community,” he said.