Several locations in downtown Terrace have been identified as hotspots for drug use and discarded needles in a downtown security report presented to city council on July 26, 2o21, and councillors expressed frustration with the current state of patrols in the area.
Information from Securiguard — a private company hired by the city this summer — was used in the report which was prepared by city bylaw officers.
The report lists the area around Turning Points Shelter on Lakelse Ave. near the Worksafe B.C. building, George Little Park, the Terrace Bottle Depot behind the Best Western Terrace Inn, bus shelters and downtown alleys near Hot House, Blue Fin Sushi and the 4500 block of Lakelse and Greig Ave. as the highest risk areas for drug use, discarded needles and other ‘unwanted activities.’
“The key high risk areas aren’t new, they’re areas we’ve known there’s been problems,” said David Block, director of development services, in his presentation to council.
Council approved hiring Securiguard to perform downtown safety patrols from shortly after June 1 through the month of September at a cost of $54,000.
“One of the activities I think they are being successful in is needle collection, they are hitting some of the hotspots and behind some businesses that have been problem areas,” Block said.
As per the agreement, two Securiguard personnel work 30 hours a week to augment the city’s two existing by-law enforcement officers and the Terrace RCMP.
They do not enforce any bylaws, but they monitor and maintain a presence after bylaw officers have finished their shifts, assisting people in distress and reporting serious incidents to the RCMP.
Also, Securiguard provides City of Terrace bylaw officers with realtime incident reports and shift summary reports.
The initial plan for Securiguard personnel was to spend half of the time patrolling on foot, and the other half doing vehicle patrols, but in practice more time is being spent in their vehicles, according to Block.
“I don’t think they are doing foot patrols in the traditional concept, what most of us would think of as a foot patrol in the downtown setting, I think what we are finding is it’s not really comfort, or an area of their training as security,” Block said, adding that the typical role of security firms is property or job site security.
That prompted Coun. James Cordeiro to question their usefulness, arguing that vehicle patrols are not particularly valuable to address concerns in the downtown, with Coun. Dave Gordon also voicing frustration about the lack of foot patrols.
“As far as whether they feel they are comfortable or trained properly to conduct a proper foot patrol, I guess that makes me wonder if this company is a good fit for what the job actually is,” Cordeiro said.
“I think we could just slap some stickers on some city trucks that say security and have city staff while they are out and about doing their regular job with ‘security’ written on their vehicle and they’d be doing the exact same thing that Securiguard is doing.”
— With files from Binny Paul