May 19th, 2024

City motel draws protest as neighbours upset with crime


By Lethbridge Herald on November 11, 2021.

Herald photo by Al Beeber - Protesters hold signs outside the Superlodge motel on Mayor Magrath Drive Wednesday. Residents are fed up with crime in the area, much of which, they say, involves tenants at the motel.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

They’re mad as hell and want their neighbourhood back. Residents who live near the Superlodge Motel on Mayor Magrath Drive South across from Henderson Lake protest staged a protest Wednesday in front of the building about the activity they say is directly tied to residents there.

Organized by Sarah Villebrun, a former employee, the protesters carried signs expressing their frustration with crime they say has made their neighbourhood so unsafe, they don’t feel comfortable going out at night.

Drug dealing, needles left on the ground and property crimes all are angering residents who say the Superlodge is part of the problem.

A man who came outside with a phone to either record or shoot photos of the group identified himself as the manager but wouldn’t give his name or talk to the Herald, simply saying he doesn’t appreciate the protest and stories don’t get things right.

“I don’t want to comment on it at all because you guys don’t do it any justice. You’re blaming us for a problem that belongs downtown. There’s problems going on and I’ve been one the one calling the police to get the people removed,” he said.

“I don’t appreciate this. It’s bullshit,” he said before walking away.

“There’s no accountability for what’s happening,” said Villebrun.

“Once upon a time it was a nice place,” she said.

“The residents around here are pretty fed up. They started discussing having a protest but a little whiles away from now but I said ‘no you should do it now while the community is still aware of what’s happening.’ So essentially the reason for the protest today is to make sure that the community stays well aware of what’s happening.”

“We’re hoping by bringing more attention to it he (the owner) starts to care because at this point, there is no accountability for what’s happening here,” said Villebrun. The owner, she said, doesn’t live here and she understands he’s trying to sell the property.

She also says the motel isn’t safe, with rooms missing air conditioning vents.

“There’s literal holes in the wall, some are covered with a pillow, some are covered with plywood so it’s a safety risk for residents, she said.

This year the police have visited the motel multiple times, as many as 232 according to one media report. That’s up from 218 in 2020.

Most recently, police seized $25,000 in drugs in a raid at the motel on Nov. 4. Among the drugs seized were meth,  cocaine and prescription medications. Brass knuckles and a machete were also seized. Police say they’ve visited the Superlodge more than 50 times since August, including in response to a shooting between a tenant of the motel and another male.

Lauren and Sheila Vanderwoude brought their grandson to the rally. They look after him after school sometimes and Lauren said he needs to know where he is.

“We just want to move, it’s horrible,” said Sheila.

“Our neighbourhood isn’t safe anymore,” added Lauren.

“We love our neighbourhood. We used to. It was a great place to raise our kids, said Sheila.

When the August shooting happened, Lauren was working in his garage. Someone came up to him and asked him about his truck and the next thing Lauren knows the police showed up and had the man on the ground.

“I was working in my garage and this nice young gentleman started chatting me up about my truck which I assume he was trying to steal at the time. And 30 seconds later the police arrive with weapons drawn… a minute later he was gone and then they found a gun in the alley.”

That man was the person accused of the shooting, they said.

“It was a nice neighbourhood; we’ve been here 25 years,” said Lauren.

People ride up and down 7th Avenue on their bikes and make drug deals, Sheila said.

“You don’t feel safe to be outside at night, you don’t feel safe to be outside during the day,” Lauren said.

Protester Rob Johnson, who lives near the Superlodge, said he’s had people jumping his fence, checking doors and sleeping behind his house and shop and between fences.

“In my yard, they’re jumping the fence. They’re checking the doors on my vehicles every day. Anything not nailed down is gone. I can’t have my garage door open, they come into my shop,” asking for money and pop bottles he said.

Johnson’s wife said last year the motel was used as a COVID-19 recovery centre on one side and a homeless shelter on the other.

“They didn’t tell us until after they set it up,” said Johnson.

A couple weeks ago someone brought a U-Haul cube van and dumped a whole cube van of stolen property next door to Johnson’s place at a rental on the back driveway.

“For two days it was like a flea market, it was non-stop people going in there and taking it. It was all brand new clothes with tags on them, shirts, pants, you name it,” Johnson added.

In his alley, residents have eight security cameras set up, said Johnson. 

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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johnny57

“Their mad as hell and want their neighborhood back” Who the hell do they think they are God? Those poor marginalized druggies just need a base to operate from! After they TRASH the facility and surrounding area they will give it back in pieces. Then move-on to the next space that’s all!
I wonder if we can get them to move-over to Shannon Phillips neck of the woods where they belong and would feel right at home!

Dennis Bremner

So we have a Crack Motel and Dealers operating out of it. So what is the difference between it and a Crack House! Get SCAN in there and close them down! Or does this owner have some mystical pull….. ie. Putting drug addicts up for Alpha House!

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Bremner
pursuit diver

Go get’em Sarah V. !!! This is what it takes, people standing up for their neighbourhoods and city saying we are not going to take it anymore!
Shutdown the Superlodge or Superslum, the Alpha House Shelter and warn the YWCA that it will be next if it doesn’t respect it’s neighbours!
People need to send a loud and clear message to government that they will not allow this in our city anymore!
We have a choice! A warning that the large emergency shelter in Edmonton will be closing soon and as we have seen many times, they could end up down here on our streets since the shelter here often takes overflow from other cities!
We need to reduce the number of beds and the taxpayer paid facilities like this one that only create more problems and more costs! The more beds and rooms available the more people are attracted here from other communities!
Shelters, harm reduction groups like LOPS and MSTH are there to make money off of the people who get stuck in addiction. From my own witnessing of some of the people in these groups, they put up the façade they are there to help and are concerned, but in several examples of people in distress after leaving one of their sites, they would not go to help and others had to!
Vancouver DTES now has over 300 social and housing programs in the greater DTES of only 20,000 people costing over $360 million per year. Add to that policing, EMS/fire, all of the other programs that are non-profit and the costs per person are extreme, with no end in site because they fail to acknowledge that harm reduction is a failure! 18 years of trying and thousands of lives lost, they still says it works!
If it works then how come the number of addicts, the number of fatal overdoses, homeless/crime have all increased annually?
If we do not stop this insanity here in this city of 100,000, we will see our tax payer dollars burned up! It already costs tens of millions per year in this city when you add the policing costs/fire/EMS and all the social programs in place already here!
You have a choice, but you have to make your voice heard!
Alpha House should be shut down and a locally operated smaller shelter with local over-sight/governance in place! There is no reason why these criminals should be allowed in the Superlodge, with one report of LPS attending over 90 times from shootings, stabbings, drug dealing, theft, etc!
Your choice, but in a couple of years you will see higher taxes on all levels of government due to the major costs of COVID! Budgets will be slashed, grants and funding slashed and the food banks/other organizations that are already over taxed with the homeless/ addicts, will not be able to help others.
Where do you want your money going? To the Superlodge to allow this Sodom and Gomorrah activity? We have allowed the norms and values we once had 5 years ago to sink into the abyss!

Lilly

No one wants this horrible situation. Drug dealers and Criminals should be arrested. Addicts and vulnerable youth need to be helped into harm reduction and detox. There is no magic bullet for social problems. I highly recommend this locally made, award winning documentary film, now showing at Movie Mill.
https://www.moviemill.com/movie/kmmapiiyipitssini-the-meaning-of-empathy