Businesses and residents in the downtown core may have noticed changes to security patrols starting Saturday.
Effective June 1, Griffin Security began conducting patrols 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the downtown area.
The change in service streamlines a somewhat awkward arrangement that had the Downtown Business Improvement Association (BIA) contracting for security for property owners while the municipality contracted for security for public property.
“This new approach will see both the city and the BIA contribute as before, but on a combined contract,” according to a city spokesperson. “Having two separate contracts merged into one shared contract should optimize the co-ordination of security in the downtown and create more efficiencies than before.”
The new contract is intended for BIA members to get more attention paid to outdoor issues near their businesses. Griffin will be, however, also available to be called upon directly for any security issues downtown. Business owners are being told that all calls dealing with security issues outdoors will be dealt with at no cost. Property checks or emergency response for indoor issues will be offered at discounted rates for BIA members starting at $20 per call.
In a message to business owners, Griffin gave suggestions about how to deal with those causing problems.
While most homeless people on the streets downtown may be harmless, severe addiction leads many to theft and violence.
“Approximately 90 per cent [of the homeless] are addicted to either meth or fentanyl,” according Brian Goldstone of Griffin. “In order for an addict to obtain their daily drugs they steal from stores or others, deal in drugs or be involved in the sex trade industry. Some users spend up to $200 per day on drugs.”
There are also, apparently, new drugs that can cause some addicts to be violent, according to Goldstone.
“As business owners, you need to be aware of the dangers involved in dealing with these people at all times,” he said. “I would suggest that the vast majority of our homeless/addict population are completely harmless, the problem is knowing which are harmless and which are not.”
The RCMP should still be the ones called when anyone witnesses criminal activity or someone feels their safety is threatened.
“While the BIA understands there is no single service program that will solve all issues, we feel that this around-the-clock program will help meet many of the challenges that seem to be concentrated in the downtown area,” according to a BIA statement in an ad. It will also allow more flexibility for businesses to establish their own programs for protecting their properties as they see fit.”