The city’s community policing office hasn’t been used for that purpose for a decade, and the office will now close.
Nanaimo city council, at its meeting Monday, voted unanimously to terminate the lease at the community policing and services office on Victoria Crescent and relocate bylaw and parking staff members to the service and resource centre on Dunsmuir Street.
Dale Lindsay, the city’s general manager of community development, said city staff’s recommendation to close the office comes “both from an operational perspective and a customer service perspective.”
According to a staff report, the CPSO office opened in 2007 with RCMP community policing as well as the Citizens on Patrol program, downtown ambassadors and private security operations. Over the next five years, however, all those services were discontinued and since 2012, the office has only been used by city bylaws and parking. In 2016, a core service review recommended the office’s closure, but local business owners and residents argued for it to remain open, “stating it had a prominent role in the safety and stability of the neighbourhood.”
City council, in 2018, accepted a recommendation for staff to explore opportunities to share the space with agencies “that provide services and engage with street-entrenched and homeless individuals.”
“There was some exploration attempting to identify those partners, but to date, it’s been unsuccessful and we do not believe there’s potential to have those partners working in the space,” Lindsay said.
The staff report also noted that the office is now kept locked at all times, with public access granted on a case-by-case basis.
“There were several incidents in the summer and fall of 2019 where highly agitated individuals entered the CPSO wielding weapons, including baseball bats, demanding to speak to a bylaw officer about their belongings that had been removed from unoccupied encampments in parks and public plazas,” the report notes.
The city will save about $40,000 per year on rent and utility bills with the closure of the community policing office.