Council votes to use PADBID reserves to fund security guard pilot project that started July 1

Prince Albert downtown. -- Daily Herald file photo.

City Council has approved the use of $33,609.21 from the PADBID Reserve to contract security services in the downtown area for a three month pilot project. 

The businesses encompassing the Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District (PADBID) have seen a recent increase in crime in the area. Through their board, a motion to allocate funds from the PADBID Reserve to fund a pilot project to hire security for a three month period was approved. The motion was then forwarded to City Council for approval.

Eight City Councillors voted in favour of funding the additional security, while Ward 2 Coun. Lennox-Zepp voted against the motion.

Lennox-Zepp believes the problem stems from a lack of police resources.

“We’re having crime in the downtown that’s not being addressed,” she said. “That is a concern for me.”

She suggested reinstating preventative police work, such as foot patrol and bike patrol, like in previous years.

“Maybe that’s a responsibility of the City, hand-in-hand with the Police Commission, to make sure we are funding appropriately so that we are providing proactive police work.”

Ward 5 Councillor Dennis Ogrodnick says he believes this is a court issue, not a policing one.

“I think our City Police do an excellent job,” he said. “We could have a police officer on every corner, and if nothing happens after someone does something, do we blame the police or do we blame the courts?”

“I view this as being proactive. I view this as an attempt to assist the police, just like neighbourhood watch groups.” 

Coun. Edwards agreed that the downtown area could use more police resources, but believes there is just no extra money for it. 

“The reality is… one extra police officer is $110,000+ per year,” he said. “Policing in our City is 35 percent of our overall budget, we need some help from the outside sources. This to me is a good, positive initiative.”

Coun. Zurakoswki sees it as PADBID taking actions into their own hands. 

“They’re doing something about it,” he said. “I look forward to further conversations between the Downtown BID and the City Administration, later this year, into next year, to see what other partnerships we can accomplish in order to make our downtown thrive.”

Although the council didn’t approve the contract until Monday’s meeting, the project officially started on July 1. Security guards will patrol downtown Prince Albert during business hours from Tuesday through Saturday until the end of September.

PADBID executive director Rhonda Trusty said the goal is to create an area where families and shoppers can share fun and positive experiences.

“We feel strongly that part of our responsibility to our fellow business owners and employees and families is basically to provide a positive and safe shopping experience in our downtown,” Trusty said in an interview with the Daily Herald one week ago.