Overnight security patrol coming to downtown Cambridge
KITCHENER -- The City of Cambridge is adding overnight security patrol to the Galt core.
The security officers will be in the area from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days a week. City officials said the officers will "provide an additional level of safety and security for businesses and residents in the evenings and overnight."
There will four officers in total -- two on-foot and two in patrol cars. The city said they will work with bylaw enforcement officers, who will still be in the downtown area. They'll also work with the city's Ambassador Team and the Waterloo Regional Police Service.
“This is one more step we are taking to ensure people feel safe in our beautiful Galt core area, especially after-hours as we head into the fall and winter months,” Cambridge Mayor Kathryn McGarry said in a news release. “Overnight coverage was raised by the Downtown Cambridge Business Improvement Association as a priority and I’m so pleased we could work together to make this happen.”
City officials said they're working on "innovative approaches and partnerships" like an online app to track needle debris and other litter. There is also enhanced security lighting and cameras in downtown Cambridge, including in Mill Race Park and on city trails.
Staff and councillors are also advocating for long-term and compassionate solutions to help with "complex social issues" like homelessness, poverty, addictions and mental health, the city said.
Brian Kennedy with the Downtown Cambridge BIA said there's been an increase in criminal activity since the pandemic began.
Golden Scissors was recently a victim of vandalism.
"It looked like chaos, there was broken glass everywhere downtown," Cedric Braga said.
The business was one of many targeted in August, when police said there were rocks thrown through several windows. A 32-year-old man was arrested in relation to the incident.
"In the morning there was actually a rock just sitting there, one big hole," Braga said.
Some businesses are hoping the new security team will help.
"They're not going to be comfortable," Braga said. "They're going to be forced to move along, then eventually they'll give up and go somewhere else."
Others, however, are not feeling as optimistic.
"(It) comes across as a Band-Aid solution," said Adam Cooper with Neighbourhood Watch Cambridge.
Earlier this month, the group hosted a protest outside city hall, calling on the city to improve safety.
Group members said the added security is a good first step, but don't think it's enough.
"I wouldn't expect them to be doing much more than calling the police, which is a benefit, but we should be expecting more from the city," Cooper said.
The city said it won't just be security guards.
"Working closely with our bylaw and Waterloo regional police services, who have enhanced a downtown core patrol," McGarry said.
McGarry said the cost isn't known yet.
"It is an extension, an enhancement of our current security program," she said.
She said the new program will be monitored closely. If it goes well, a report will go to council to see if it can be expanded to other areas of the city.