The Community Policing and Services Office could get a fresh lease on life if city council gives its blessing to staff to study ways to revitalize its role in revitalizing downtown Nanaimo. (CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin)

Community policing office could be revitalized downtown

Facing axe under city core review, Community Policing and Services Office might get fresh start

The Community Policing and Services Office on Victoria Crescent might be on the road to revitalization.

The City of Nanaimo’s public safety committee voted at a meeting Thursday to forward a motion to city council, asking it to direct city staff to devise a business plan to determine the resources and costs required to put the staff and resources in place to deal with ongoing crime and social issues in Nanaimo’s downtown core.

“There is a way to look at downtown and figure out what works for us and so the first thing I recommend for us is that the CPSO office gets reborn,” said Brad McRae, city chief operations officer, during the meeting.

The list of recommendations includes adding two RCMP officers to patrol the downtown area plus two additional bylaw enforcement officers who are trained as peace officers who would also conduct foot patrols and deal strictly with public safety.

A team of mental health and addictions workers would also be created to work in the office and respond where needed with services downtown.

The recommendations also call for ambassadors to assist the local public and tourists.

McRae also recommends the downtown core be “reprogrammed” with amenities that will attract people to come downtown. He also advocates downtown business operators become more involved by policing debris and cigarette butts and that the city also step up its public works service levels, such as cleaning streets and pressure washing sidewalks more frequently.

“So, do we want to revitalize? Do we want to build this back up? That’s how we go, in my opinion,” McRae said.

All of those recommendations and their costs would have to be reviewed by city staff, which would conduct research and consult with other agencies, at the direction of city council, to create a business plan to revitalize the Community Policing Services Office.

Coun. Ian Thorpe, who chaired the meeting, said Friday it is time the committee moved ahead and that the motion be brought before city council as soon as possible, which could happen as early as October.

“I’m really anxious to have this brought forward as quickly as possible, recognizing the workload of our staff,” Thorpe said.

Kevan Shaw, president of the Victoria Crescent Association, said the association has pushed for more than a year to get action on the downtown core through the public safety committee and the city and it’s about time something is being done.

“The action’s got to come … No more look-sees. No more spending a lot of money on doing nothing,” Shaw said. “We’ve got to get help for the people on the street, but we’ve got to be helped as taxpayers, as property owners, as businesses. We have to be helped, too.”

The city core review had called for the office to be closed and moved to the city service and resource centre on Dunsmuir Street.

“This whole issue is funding and getting some boots on the ground and so it will be interesting how council deals with it,” Thorpe said.

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