The streetscape will remain the same at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 22nd Street after city councillors rejected the idea of removing benches and planters in an attempt to rid the area of unwanted behaviour.
City administrators submitted a report today to the planning and operations committee recommending the removal of the streetscaping structures in front of McDonald's, which has become a popular hang-out spot for panhandlers and youths. Councillors asked administrators to go back to the drawing board and return with alternate solutions to cleaning up the north-east downtown corner.
In March 2013, Chief of Police Clive Weighill asked the city administration to immediately remove the benches at that corner. The report said officers were dedicating significant time and effort to policing this small area and the issues will increase with the arrival of summer.
But the corner will undergo change without the city's involvement. Ken Achs, the owner of the building that houses the McDonald's restaurant, said he plans on demolishing the building because the corner has become too dangerous and his company is spending too much time trying to address the issues.
"Perception is reality, and people are afraid, and the police have done a great job dealing with the hot spot as they call it, but it doesn't have an immediate solution," Achs said.
Ward 6 councilor Charlie Clark said the he's taking a wait-and-see approach.
"I'd rather let McDonald's close down, leave the furniture and wait," Clark said.
"People want to be around other people. We can't decide who's legitimate and who's not."
The city plans on creating a stakeholder group made up of people and businesses most affected by the activity on the corner in order to create solutions to the situation.