The City of Terrace has decided to spend $54,000 to hire a security firm to patrol the downtown area following growing complaints about anti-social behaviour, crime and a rising homeless population.
Two people will be working 30 hours a week from June until September to augment the city’s two existing by-law enforcement officers and the Terrace RCMP.
While they won’t be enforcing any bylaws, they will monitor and maintain a presence after bylaw officers have finished their shifts, assisting people in distress and reporting serious incidents to the RCMP.
This is not the first time the city has boosted a security presence downtown.
Two seasonal bylaw officers were hired last year using a grant from LNG Canada and in 2019 the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area, which is supported by city taxes, hired Northern Valley Rangers – a Nisga’a-based security company from the Nass Valley. This year LNG Canada did not support the program and indicated that they would support the city in other areas related to the impacts of the project on the community.
The $54,000 this year will be drawn from a provincial grant provided to the city to help finance COVID-19 measures to return services to pre-pandemic levels. But the city is also applying to a pandemic relief program run by the Union of B.C. Municipalities for a grant and, if successful, won’t need to use the provincial grant.
The money is enough for the two employees to work six days a week for five hours a shift, including evenings and weekends.
Council decided to spend the $54,000 based on a proposal by development services director David Block at its May 25 meeting but only after an extensive debate.
Coun. James Cordeiro – who owns Xanders Coffee, attached to the Days Inn on the 4600 Block of Lakelse – said that the hostile environment in the downtown area was not conducive to business and wanted the council to pump in more money and double the hours from 30 to 60 to have a significant impact.
Mayor Carol Leclerc said that the city “cannot keep throwing money at this issue” and that the proposed budget would have to suffice. The mayor also insisted that the council needs to maintain a “positive attitude” towards this issue.
Cordeiro stated that he was not in support of the city spending money on 30 hours and further said that “the council has been in denial of how unpleasant the issues at downtown are.”
He also suggested that if the city is not willing to put in more money, it should look at reducing business taxes so that the businesses can hire their own security.
Further details will be provided by the city staff after consultation with TDIA, Bylaw officers and local businesses.