City hiring bylaw officers for downtown safety office

The City of Prince George will be hiring four additional bylaw officers to be based in the new Downtown Community Safety Office, slated to open this spring.

City council approved the move on Monday night, following on recommendations by the city's Select Committee on a Clean, Safe and Inclusive Community. The move will see city bylaw officers conducting regular patrols downtown from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, acting city manager Walter Babicz 

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"Those four officers would have a more 'boots on the ground' approach," Babicz said, walking patrols downtown.

Funding for the positions would come from reallocating $400,000 per year that had been earmarked in February 2020 for enhanced security at the city's civic facilities downtown as part of $1.42 million in service enhancements aimed at downtown safety and cleanliness.

"I think this is going to be a better use of those funds," Coun. Kyle Sampson said.

The four bylaw officers would be in addition to two officers already focused on downtown social issues, Babicz said, and would work in partnership with the RCMP and Northern Health to address social issues in the downtown core, as well as provide some additional security for civic facilities.

The officers will be based in the Downtown Community Safety Office, which will be located at Second Avenue and George Street and is expected to be fully operational by May 1, Babicz added.

Coun. Brian Skakun said the four officers hired will need skills in conflict resolution, mental health knowledge and host of other skills not normally associated with enforcing municipal bylaws.

"We already have two bylaw officers that work in the downtown, and it is a special skill set," Babicz said.

The city will release more information about the office when it is closer to opening, he added.

"I'm really looking forward to this office opening," Coun. Murry Krause said. 

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