The City of Terrace has hired a key official in making a three-year financial commitment of just under $456,000 in a bid to deal with mental health, addictions and poverty most publicly noticeable with open drug use, ongoing crime and public disorder in the downtown core.
The money comes from a series of senior government grants amounting to $335,992 plus $120,000 from LNG Canada, a continuation of various payments it has made to the city since its liquefied natural gas plant began construction in Kitimat.
Linda Stevens has three decades of experience in various social development roles and most recently worked for the school district in the Peace River area of Alberta. She begins Sept. 7.
Based on a job description posted by the city, Stevens is to be responsible “for the coordination of policy development and implementation of activities to address priorities associated with social equity, community health and safety and well-being in the City of Terrace.”
In doing so, she is expected be in close contact with a variety of non-profit groups, agencies and provincial government ministries.
That includes working “collaboratively across all city departments with other levels of government, First Nations, community-based organizations, social agencies, and residents, including those who have lived experience of mental health, addictions, and poverty,” a city press release adds.
Stevens has also worked in Ottawa and in Kingston, Ontario.
“Since this coordinator position is new, we are looking to Linda to help shape it into an effective position for our needs, and we look forward to seeing what she can implement to assist with the social issues in Terrace,” said Kris Boland, city chief administrative officer.
One of the senior government grant streams being tapped for this new position comes from $161,000 announced for the city several weeks ago. Of that amount, $50,000 is being allocated to the new position.
Of the remaining $110,000, the city is spending $27,900 to place two portable toilets at the former Terrace Co-op shopping centre site along Greig Ave. as an attempt to answer complaints about defecation and urination in doorways and other public spaces downtown.
There’s already a portable toilet at the Kermode Friendship Centre and having the city add to the portable toilet inventory would repeat what it did last year at the city-owned Co-op spot.
In past years CN, with the help of a grant, and other agencies also placed a portable toilet along the fence line of the Co-op property that parallels its tracks through town.
The two portable toilets to now be installed are regarded as an interim measure until the city finds out if two other grant applications for a combined $250,000 are successful to finance a more permanent outdoor washroom called a Portland Loo.
When the city applied for the grant, which is being funnelled through the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), it set out $83,200 for a company that would keep an eye on what’s going on downtown, contacting the RCMP when necessary and filing reports with the city.
There had been the option of using this money to replace the $54,000 already committed for a private patrol company already hired, but the city has decided against that.
“We are planning to take a different direction focused on downtown safety and security. We are looking at a contract bylaw position, but full details are yet to come as we are still working on that,” said city leisure services director Tara Irwin.