By Kalinowski, Tim on December 10, 2019.
City council voted at Monday’s regular meeting to approve $1.6 million during the next three years to fund the City’s Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy.
The Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy includes funding for 12 programs, including the Clean Sweep Program, DOT and the Main Street Program, among others, implemented to help deal with the secondary effects of the drug crisis. The program is popular with business owners and other organizations based in the downtown, but had only been funded for one year after being implemented in 2019.
Monday’s 6-2 vote ensures the program continues for at least the next three years.
Coun. Rob Miyashiro was absent for the vote. Councillors Blaine Hyggen and Joe Mauro voted against renewing the funding. Hyggen said he would prefer to direct more resources toward law enforcement rather than continuing to pay taxpayer money toward these types of programs. Mauro said while he was in support of some measures like the Main Street Program, he felt the other measures covered by the Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy were largely a consequence of the supervised consumption site’s location near downtown, and were properly a provincial responsibility which it should be paying for.
Coun. Jeffrey Coffman agreed, but reminded Mauro while these problems may not be within “our jurisdiction” as a city, they certainly were “our problem” to deal with.
Downtown urban revitalization manager Andrew Malcolm thanked council for its renewed support of the Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy.
“As one councillor said, it was money we don’t want to spend, but it’s money we need to spend,” said Malcolm. “I think that’s how everyone in the downtown feels. We would love to see this type of money go into other things. But at this point in time, the downtown needs this type of funding to ensure that people still feel safe and comfortable coming downtown in the time it takes for some of those bigger (social) programs to come down and actually address the root causes of the (drug) issue.”
“These programs have been effective in addressing the amount of the publicly visible needle debris, panhandling, people overdosing on the streets – all these types of things have gone down,” he added. “The programs are being efficient and are being well used.”
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