Overnight security patrols in downtown Campbell River won’t be happening for the foreseeable future due to a lack of staff at the company contracted to do the work.
Three months ago, the Downtown Campbell River Business Improvement Association (BIA) announced they were working with Blackbird Security to do overnight patrols of the downtown area. However, as of Nov. 7 those services have come to an end.
Blackbird district supervisor Sean Smith is no longer with the company, and is under a non-disclosure agreement. The company is currently hiring for Campbell River.
“We got three months in, were well happy and got good results from talking to people on the street and those that support people on the street,” said Heather Gordon Murphy, co-chair of the BIA. “Although we were going to start doing overnight patrols on city property, that never actually happened. It was to start last Monday, and because of the challenges we had, it didn’t start.”
The program was set up so individual businesses paid into the service, which extended from Pier Street to the Campbell River Common Shopping Centre. The BIA is ensuring that all businesses are reimbursed for any services they have not received, and Gordon Murphy is looking into other possibilities for security services.
“The way I look at it, we did do something,” she said. “We jumped in there and got something going. It also started lots of conversations between lots of different groups, which is key to solve any of the challenges.”
The City of Campbell River has bylaw officers in the area during the day, and has contracted with Footprints Security, which is on the job until the evenings.
However after the sun goes down “everything stops,” Gordon Murphy said.
“Bylaw stops, security stops, all around 6 or 7 o’clock at night. There’s nothing, there’s not even social support at night.”
That lack of social services makes things especially difficult to the people who are unhoused spending time in the downtown area. Gordon Murphy said there is a recognized need for those supports in the area.
“It’s not the best, but it’s just about not having enough staff,” she said.