The Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) is taking steps to assist its members in dealing with people who show signs of mental health or substance abuse issues entering their stores.
The BIA has partnered with Street Health to offer de-escalation seminars for business owners and their staff.
Downtown Kingston’s development manager, Rob Tamblyn, says the BIA has been working on setting up these sessions for a couple of months.
“It’s basically kind of generated from businesses who’ve come to say: ‘Look, we’re dealing with people who are coming into our stores that are either suffering from substance abuse issues or mental health issues, and we just don’t know how to deal with them.'”
David Dossett, owner of Martello Alley, thinks the seminars are a move in the right direction.
“Usually, kind of walk by, but sometimes, they’ve ended up here. We’re not quite sure in each situation how to handle it so, at the very least, I think I will be attending,” he said.
Smith Army Surplus manager Kyle Kincaid says his store has had to go as far as banning some individuals from the business.
“They’re here now, wandering up and down the streets, coming into the store, causing disruptions so yeah, they’re here, and I don’t think they’re going away,” he said. “They’re increasing in number, if anything.”
The sessions are being held on Nov. 18 for free and are only available to members of the Downtown Kingston BIA.
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