Cold Lake city council will continue to fund the Chamber of Commerce’s Commercial Security Program until the end of the year.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, city council contemplated how to move forward with funding the security of the downtown cores, as business owners have noticed an increase in crime and vagrancy in those areas.
After two community engagement sessions on March 14, council pooled the feedback and decided to use $90,000 to fund the program for the remainder of the year.
“People look at it and it’s just an extra set of eyes,” said Mayor Craig Copeland on The Morning After. “Somebody dedicated to go around and ensure that the commercial district is [protected], because a lot of our businesses are getting hit. It’s unfortunate a lot of them are really getting hit by crime.”
Initially started as a pilot program, there were recommendations at the Corporate Priorities Committee to expand the Watchdog from 60 hours per week to an additional 30 hours.
Council ultimately decided to leave that decision to 2023 budget talks.
The Watchdog currently provides security services for 60 hours per week, divided between day and night shifts. The split of hours between the day shift and night shift, with emphasis on the night shift, which are all performed at random times.
“When we do the budget for 23’ we’ll discuss it,” said Copeland.
A lot of the feedback from the sessions discussed the impact homelessness has on safety, with the emphasis on the city to continue to provide and effectively manage homeless population through increasing RCMP patrols, community peace offers through increased service, or a contracted third party.
The program came to fruition in 2021 after several discussions with disgruntled business owners.