Nanaimo city council approves $2.5 million downtown safety action plan


Nanaimo City Council has green-lighted a new safety action plan for the city’s downtown at a cost of $2.5 million a year.

The goal of the plan is to better address the social disorder in the city’s core and help make it a safe destination for people to shop, visit and enjoy.

Nanaimo City Council’s new plan is the result of a Security and Safety Review it commissioned for the downtown core.

The plan will be phased in over three years with an annual operating cost of $2.5 million dollars a year, which is the equivalent of a 2 percent tax increase for property owners.

“We would hope to see a measurable increase in a sense of order and a sense of cleanliness in a lack of confrontation we would see a big change in terms of perception in terms of people feeling that they can come downtown again, they can live downtown, they can be downtown,” said Allan Neilson, the Principal at Neilsen Strategies Inc. who authored the report.

The safety action plan includes extra cleaning, a vandalism relief grant and the addition of 12 new Community Safety Officers. They’ll be working 19 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“They are trained in working with vulnerable populations and helping to de-escalate issues and helping to get people help wherever that help is available,” said Neilson.

Nanaimo City Council approved the plan Wednesday unanimously.

“What we’re saying today is we’re going to try and make you feel as safe and make our streets as safe as they can possibly be until such time as the province and the federal governments between them settle these issues put the resources in and get people into housing,” said Leonard Krog, Nanaimo’s Mayor.

The head of the Victoria Crescent Association commends the city council for the decision.

“This is a long time coming and hopefully we’ll see improvement. I think we will. It’s a lot of money but the businesses need to be helped we need to attract people shoppers back downtown,” said Kevan Shaw, the Association’s President.

The program and costs will be phased in with much of the first-year costs of $1.2 million coming from city reserves. The costs for year two in 2023 are projected to be $2.8 million with the costs after that coming in just under $2.5 million a year.

The plan comes on top of extra police resources Nanaimo City Council approved in November to help improve downtown safety.

The hiring of four RCMP officers for Nanaimo’s detachment this year has been delayed because the RCMP depot in Regina was shut down during Covid-19 leading to a shortage of newly trained police.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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