Security pilot project will see extra eyes in commercial districts

Cold Lake, AB – In consultation with a downtown business group and the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, Cold Lake City Council approved a request to allocate funding that will lend a hand in developing a security pilot project for the city’s commercial districts.

Council voted to create a budget that will be accessible to an organized group. The funding can be accessed for a pilot project for downtown that would see staffed security patrol personnel. Council came to the decision after hearing that downtown businesses are increasingly dealing with heightened and more aggressive behaviors towards staff and customers, aggressive panhandling, threats, squatting resulting in extensive property damage, and theft.

“We’ve heard that this behavior is persistent and consistently located in certain areas,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “While we’ve taken steps to address social issues that have been magnified by the economic situation, we cannot ignore the fact that the downtown businesses are seeing potentially dangerous behavior on the rise.”

The details regarding patrolling hours and business supports will be finalized in the coming weeks. The City would like to see the pilot project operate for six to 12 months.

“We would like to see a grassroots program developed that is highly responsive to the business community’s needs; not just another program that is operated under the municipality’s umbrella,” City of Cold Lake Chief Administrative Officer, Kevin Nagoya, said. “The intention is that a business association or the Chamber of Commerce will take over the program and establish financial mechanisms to keep it going in the long term, once it is established.”

Security patrols will liaise with and contact the RCMP or City Peace Officers as required for enforcement, but will otherwise act as a deterrent and a night watch. It is expected that the pilot project will begin in mid-February.

Council has also allocated a total of $200,000 for a 5-year project to establish social programs for vulnerable people in the community, $25,000 for outreach programming for vulnerable people, and has been working closely with Kokum’s House and the Cold Lake John Howard Society in their efforts to re-establish men’s shelters and associated programming in the community.

“Our council is committed to taking this issue on through a number of channels,” Copeland said. “But with behaviour escalating beyond a simple nuisance, Council agreed that we need to see a security program up and running.”

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Thursday, January 28, 2021