Enlighten Hair & Tanning Salon, located beside the Gateway Shelter on 33rd Street, has announced plans to move to a new location because of issues with street people. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Violence and dirty needles force Vernon salon move

Enlighten Hair & Tanning Salon, located beside Gateway Shelter, moving to new location

Ed Kendall has had it.

Kendall, owner and manager of Enlighten Hair & Tanning Salon, is moving his location to avoid chronic problems with street people.

The salon, presently located at 2804-33rd Street, next to the Gateway Shelter, will relocate to Discovery Plaza on Tuesday, Sept. 4 at #7 – 3100-35th Street (behind the downtown Safeway).

Kendall said the salon has suffered an increase in trouble over the years as the shelter’s rules seem to have become more lax and the influx of seasonal transients increases.

“If picking up needles every morning was the only problem I had I could probably deal with it,” said Kendall. “But I frequently have to chase people off my property, roust them in the morning from my doorway, and I’ve even had a knife pulled on me while trying to get into my business. And it’s not only the shelter; there are new, more aggressive people in town all around here.”

Originally Kendall was planning to buy the building, but the past few years of increasing lawlessness changed his mind.

“It was getting to the point where we had to walk customers back to their cars,” he said, referencing people hanging out on the sidewalks and around his salon. “I feel for the landlord, who is going to have a hard time selling now.

“It’s not that I want to move. We’ve been here for 18 years and we were going to buy the place and stay here for the future, but I’m losing customers and I’ve had enough.”

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Kendall is frustrated that the City of Vernon and the police don’t seem to want to do anything about the problem.

“All I’ve heard the mayor say is that we have to get used to it because the city can’t do anything about it. And our security company tells me the police sometimes don’t even show up when they’re called.”

Kendall claims that when the Gateway Shelter was first established, he and other nearby business owners were assured that the shelter would run a tight ship.

“We were promised that check in would be 5 p.m. and that everyone would have to check out at 9 a.m. We were told that no clients would be allowed to hang around within two blocks of the shelter and that no one would be allowed in if they were drunk or stoned. And for the first few years everything was fine. But now it seems like there are no rules at all. People are coming and going at all hours and no one is doing anything about it.”

The salon will remain open in its present location until near the end of August.

The Morning Star has reached out to the mayor and John Howard Society for comment.

The Activate Safety Task Force, created to look at issues involving homelessness, addiction, poverty and criminal behaviour on the business community, will present its findings and recommendations to Vernon council Monday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.

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