Campbell River’s Downtown BIA is partnering with a security company, bringing ongoing security services to downtown and surrounding areas.
While BIA co-chair Heather Gordon Murphy says ‘many’ challenges have rocked the area, especially over the last year, she notes other parts of town have seen a spike in unwanted activity as well.
“Everything from criminal activity, which is what we’re focusing on,” she says. “We also have people sleeping in doorways, which causes problems for people trying to get into their businesses in the morning.”
Oftentimes, Gordon Murphy says garbage is strewn all over the place with paraphernalia left behind. And while she finds this unwanted activity abounds, she notes overnight ‘boots-on-the-ground’ patrol is lacking.
“The pandemic has certainly highlighted safety and security, because, for such a long period of time, there were less people downtown – literally, shops were closed up and there was nobody here,” Gordon Murphy explains.
She continues, “I’m not faulting the RCMP – they have a big job to do and they have a tough job. The RCMP are pretty good about coming down when you phone them, because I phone them all the time. But what we need is somebody to go up and down Shoppers Row.”
With this in mind, the BIA has hired Blackbird Security. According to Gordon Murphy, the firm has done similar jobs along Commercial Drive in Vancouver, working with the BIA there, setting up a security patrol.
“They’re not replacing anyone, they’re an addition. They work closely with the RCMP, with bylaw, and with the security that we do have,” she says.
Initially, the Blackbird team will be operating a nighttime patrol two or three nights a week, between 8:00 pm and 4:00 am. They aim to ensure streets are kept safe and secure for locals after security and bylaw officers have finished for the day.
“We’re planning on starting this weekend, hopefully,” Gordon tells My Campbell River Now. “The boundary has been extended from Pier Street over to the Campbell River Common, so it’s not just the area of the Downtown BIA.”
But Gordon Murphy says business owners need to sign up and pay for Blackbirds’ services, as the BIA won’t be spending any of its own money.
“We’re facilitating it so that it lessens the bookwork,” she explains. “The more people we get signed up the less it costs. And then we’re hoping to expand it as well.”
So far, Gordon Murphy says close to 20 businesses have signed up. She’s ‘confident’ that once patrols get underway, more people will start signing on.
“Working in partnership with as many different people as we can, we learn from each other, she adds. “Hopefully we can all work together and make downtown the best it can be.”
For more details, including costs, Gordon Murphy says business and property owners in the area can reach out to her via email: [email protected]