Downtown businesses and residents may notice a different approach to security after Canada Day, but the Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA) says not much will really change.
The BIA’s contract with Griffin Investigation & Security Services Ltd. ends as of July 1 and Allegiance 1 Security is taking over with a shift in methods. The board of directors for the BIA decided to go to a response-to-call system rather than proactive patrols, a move that Griffin CEO Brian Goldstone says is not a good idea.
“As a company in the BIA, and the security provider for the BIA, the change to the response-to-call system, in our expert opinion, will not provide the downtown businesses with the level of service they require,” Goldstone said in a letter.
City of Chilliwack Coun. Ken Popove also has reservations about the change, but he’s cautiously optimistic the new approach will work.
“I love what [Griffin] did and I’m not passing judgment on the new folks coming in, it’s going to be a to-be-determined thing,” Popove said. “From a councillor point of view, I just hope it doesn’t add more pressure to our RCMP.”
And therein lies some of the underlying debate and discussion about the subject of security downtown: How much should be paid for by individual businesses, how much by the BIA, and how much by the municipality?
Part of the issue with the change, too, is that Griffin was offering more services than they were being paid for and in renegotiation, the price tag was going to go much higher than the BIA was willing to pay. So a request-for-proposals was issued, but Goldstone didn’t bid on the contract.
“It’s skewed because Griffin gave them more than they were paying for,” Popove said. One of those extras was Goldstone and his employees got to know the people on the street, and in fact have been able to get a number of addicted individuals into detox in recent days, something Popove confirms is true.
“What Brian did is make relationships with those folks,” he said.
Under the current contract, a Griffin security guard is on day patrol six days a week in the downtown core. The new contract will be on-call, complaint driven.
This is part of what concerns Popove, but BIA executive director Kyle Williams said there won’t be much of a difference. In part, that’s because there are so many calls in the downtown area that security guards are often out much of the time anyway going from call to call. Add to the fact that Griffin still has its contract with the city to take care of parks in addition to other private contracts, there will be two security company’s downtown much of the time.
“We don’t think there will be that much of a difference,” Williams said. “If anything, the presence should look greater.”
Williams said the BIA board had philosophical discussions about what their role is with regards to policing and security and decided the price tag was becoming unaffordable.
Popove said the recent patrols by security guards with city bylaw and RCMP is making a huge and visible difference downtown.
“I want to keep the foot on the gas down there,” he said.