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Private security unlikely to hit Vernon streets this year

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July 09, 2019 - 11:15 AM

VERNON - If downtown Vernon is going to have private security patrols on the city's streets, it's highly unlikely it's going to happen this year.

City staff told council at its July 8 meeting that administration needed more direction on a number of key points before they could go forward with the file.

The move, that will stall the implementation of the seasonal project, will now see council make a final decision mid-August. As the security patrols were supposed to run only until the end of September, it seems highly unlikely boots will be on the ground this year.

The delay appeared to frustrate Councillor Scott Anderson who put forward the original motion.

City staff asked council for a definition of the term "petty crime."

"If I was a cynic I would say it is bureaucrat obstructionism," Coun. Anderson said. Anderson said if staff needed a definition of petty crime they should ask the RCMP.

City of Vernon Chief Administration Officer Will Pearce said the questions were not "sarcastic or obstructionist."

"Just to be clear these... questions from the administration, what they are is trying to get clear direction so we can provide a concrete report back to council," Pearce said.

Pearce said it was the RCMP who has asked city staff to define "petty crime."

After some debate the motion was put back to the administration with the word "petty" taken out.

Administration also asked where the money would come from to fund the project.

Coun. Anderson said he'd like a recommendation from staff as to where the money should come from, only to be told administration needed a "specific direction."

"There is no current source of funds for additional security so the only source at this point at this time that council could tap into is the 2018 year-end unexpended balance," Pearce said.

Council did agree that seasonal patrols would run from May 1 to September 30 and work the hours when city bylaw officers did not, largely from midnight to 7 a.m.

The question of which areas of the City would be patrolled also caused some debate. While the majority of councillors favoured downtown Vernon and the Business Improvement Area, Coun. Kelly Fehr disagreed.

"I do not think that residential taxpayers will want their taxes increased to supplement security service (for the downtown)," Fehr said.

Fehr also pointed out there were rules to be followed about hiring private companies to do the work currently done by unionized workers.

Council did unanimously agree that private security currently being funded by the private sector would not be funded by the City.

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming told the report would be back from staff Aug. 19, for further discussion.

When asked why administration hadn't given a report with a selection of options and prices so the file could move forward quicker, the mayor said the City had followed regular council process.

"At the beginning, the options were too wide... we needed today's meeting to narrow those options," Cumming said.

If council do agree on the terms of a private security hire in August and the contract then follows the normal tender route it seems almost impossible for boots to be on the ground this year.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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