COLD LAKE – Extra eyes will be on the commercial districts in hopes of preventing crimes that have been happening in those areas in the City of Cold Lake.
Cold Lake council approved a request to allocate funding that will lend a hand to developing a security pilot project for the commercial districts after consulting with a downtown business group and the Cold Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Council voted in favour of creating a budget that will be accessible to an organized group and the funding can be accessed for a pilot project for downtown that will see staff security patrol personnel.
The decision was made after council heard from downtown businesses dealing with an increasing number of heightened and more aggressive behaviours toward staff and customers, aggressive panhandling, threats, squatting resulting in extensive property damage, and theft.
“We’ve heard that this behaviour is persistent and consistently located in certain areas,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “While we’ve taken steps to address social issues that have been magnified by the economic situation, we cannot ignore the fact that the downtown businesses are seeing potentially dangerous behaviour on the rise.”
The program is expected to begin mid-February.
The finer details surrounding patrolling hours and business supports will be finalized in the coming weeks, with the municipality hoping to see the pilot project to begin operation for six to 12 months.
City of Cold Lake CAO Kevin Nagoya noted, “we would like to see a grassroots program developed that is highly responsive to the business community's needs, not just another program that’s operated under the municipality’s umbrella. The intention is that a business association or the chamber of commerce will take over the program and establish financial mechanisms to keep it going in the long term, once it’s established.”
Security patrols will liaise with enforcement and contact the Cold Lake RCMP or city peace officers are required, but will otherwise act as a deterrent and a night watch.
“Our council is committed to taking this issue on through a number of channels,” Copeland said. “But with behaviour escalating beyond a simple nuisance, Council agreed that we need to see a security program up and running.”
Council has also allocated a total of $200,000 for a five-year project to establish social programs for vulnerable people in the community, $25,000 for outreach programming for vulnerable people, and has been working closely with Kokum’s House and the Cold Lake John Howard’s Society in their efforts to re-establish a men’s shelter and associated programming in the community.