The City of Nanaimo is looking at spending another $400,000 on security throughout downtown in 2021, with a focus on overnight security. (Stock photo)

The City of Nanaimo is looking at spending another $400,000 on security throughout downtown in 2021, with a focus on overnight security. (Stock photo)

City of Nanaimo looks at increasing downtown security

Council members will consider allocating $400,000, and as much as $1.45 million in 2021 and 2022

The situation on Nanaimo’s downtown streets is prompting the city to look at spending another $400,000 on security over the next year and potentially $1.45 million-plus next year.

Nanaimo city councillors, staff and RCMP discussed the topic Monday at a governance and priorities meeting, as council members will be asked to make certain budget decisions as soon as Wednesday, April 14.

Dave LaBerge, the city’s manager of bylaw services, reported to councillors that the empty public spaces during the pandemic have created challenges for people who do security work downtown.

When encampments are “unchecked and unmanaged,” he said, they can become entrenched and conflict with the interests of people who do business or live in the area. When the encampments grow, “the signs of stress can become much more evident,” LaBerge said, and city staff and mayor and council receive complaints about public disorder, open drug use, accumulation of garbage, human waste and discarded needles.

LaBerge said the problems are complex and noted that the mayor and others have pointed to a lack of resources and commitments from senior levels of government.

“Local governments are always going to continue to struggle to manage the symptoms without more accountability, but in the interim, I think we’re all confident that thoughtful management of some of these symptoms can help improve the challenges that we do have,” he said.

His report noted that the city currently pays $135,000 for security in downtown parkades, $75,000 for the area of city hall, $31,000 for Pauline Haarer Elementary School and $147,000 as part of a partnership with the Old City Quarter business improvement association.

READ ALSO: Overnight security intended to curb social disorder in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter

His report presented options to allocate another $400,000 in 2021 to expand private security throughout the downtown with a focus on night time, and create business cases for another $1 million for downtown security in 2022, plus $400,000 for the establishment of a permanent downtown sanitation team that would do overnight work, and additional spending on security at parkades including gates and CCTV upgrades.

Many other ideas beyond increased security were included in LaBerge’s report, which was prepared in consultation with other city departments and RCMP. He said social agencies providing mobile outreach can create “zones of dependency [that] perpetuate the entrenchment” and said drop-in facilities with access to social services could help. Economic revitalization will mean busier and safer streets, he said, and suggested the city could review its liquor control strategy and “provide every opportunity for a safe and vibrant post-COVID hospitality district.” Support and encouragement of downtown events, park wardens in downtown parks and funding for RCMP to be able to better prioritize downtown security were among the other suggestions.

Coun. Erin Hemmens suggested the system is in “distress” when the city is being asked to pay $1.5 million in security costs without having the tools, resources or knowledge to solve the underlying problems.

Coun. Tyler Brown expressed concern the city is “going down the wrong path” and said spending money on more security guards is “insanity” because it’s an example of doing the same thing and expecting different results.

“The idea of security and enforcement, I think we could be doing better by having a little bit more of a trauma-informed response and folks that can work with people in a different way,” Brown said.

Mayor Leonard Krog was among the council members who indicated support for increased security, saying it’s necessary to keep bailing out a leaky vessel until senior levels of government come to the rescue.

“We have some seriously ill individuals living on our streets and when they get referred to the criminal justice system they get punted from there, if they’re referred to the health system they get punted from there because ultimately there is no place for them…” Krog said. “In the meantime, we have a certain level of chaos and street disorder that is affecting businesses and individuals.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo’s health and housing task force presents action plan to address homelessness

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo report says Wesley Street camp was no longer sustainable



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City HallSecurity

Just Posted

The City of Nanaimo has developed concepts for an extension of the Harbourfront Walkway from Departure Bay ferry terminal to Departure Bay Beach. (City of Nanaimo image)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: City hasn’t shown it has capability to build walkway

Is it really a good idea to consider a hyper-expensive, complicated mega-project, asks letter writer

Regional District of Nanaimo directors discussed asking the provincial government for increased funding, awareness and enforcement against human trafficking. (File photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo asking province to better address human trafficking issue

Directors agree to write to the premier and solicitor-general after hearing from advocate

Conductor Willi Zwozdesky and pianist Nico Rhodes led 66 local vocalists in song for the Nanaimo Sings video project Keeping Calm and Singing On. (YouTube screen shot)
Nanaimo Sings virtual performance features 66 vocalists

Fifth Nanaimo Sings festival was to have taken place this year

The bow-legged bear was seen roaming 2nd Avenue on Friday, May 7 and again in Brown Drive Park on May 13. (Submitted photo)
Bow-legged Ladysmith bear euthanized after vet examination

CO Stuart Bates said the bear had obvious health issues

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
UPDATE: Queen presents Nanaimo doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

A driver was taken to hospital after crashing a pickup truck into a tree on Rutherford Road near Bradbury Road on Friday, May 14. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Driver taken to hospital after crashing truck into tree on Rutherford hill in Nanaimo

RCMP investigating incident at Rutherford and Bradbury roads on Friday, May 14

Tamara Cameron, Uplands Park Elementary School music teacher and librarian, students Ben Leduc, second from left, Avery Kojima and Kinley Robson, as well as other music students from the school, will benefit from $8,000 from MusiCounts, for instruments and recording equipment. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Money for new instruments music to ears of Uplands Park school staff and students

Grant from music education charity MusiCounts means students will have more ways to be creative

Sarah Boileau in her home studio on Monday, May 10. Boileau’s work will be on display at the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville through May 30. (Submitted photo)
RCMP arrested a man in north Nanaimo who wound up empty-handed after allegedly failing at shoplifting, bank robbery and robbery at ATM machine. (File photo)
Man arrested in Nanaimo after failed attempts at bank robbery, ATM mugging, shoplifting

RCMP arrest suspect in office-supply store after ‘short-lived crime spree’

Most Read