City bolstering downtown security
Security patrols of downtown Sault Ste. Marie will continue through the end of the year.
Council last night approved a motion to draw $60,000 from its Contingency Fund to support patrols by a private firm for the balance of 2023.
The City and the DTA (Downtown Merchants Association) both want the patrols to continue next year. Specifics for 2024, including the hours of patrols and a sharing of cost will need to be ironed out.
The DTA began paying for overnight security back in 2020. The City took over the cost in 2022 as part of a six-month pilot project, known as the Downtown Security Pilot Program (DSPP).
Dynamic patrols by city police began in June of this year, but are only for the summer months. Sault Ste. Marie Police Services (SSMPS) are extending their patrols into the fall on a voluntary basis funded by a provincial grant.
The DSPP coverage area focused on commercial businesses along Queen Street, from Pim to Gore streets. Bay Street, alleyways and the rear of businesses on Queen and Bay were also patrolled.
The patrols cost $105,378 annually. It’s projected that with inflation, that figure will rise to $110,000. The City is looking to the DTA to help foot the annual bill.
Nicholas Rosset, Downtown Association says merchants favour a mix of daytime and overnight patrols. Results of DTA survey conducted earlier this month show 91 per cent of merchants believe private security enhances public safety and enjoyment of the downtown. The other nine per cent, said Rosset, favour increased city police presence.
The survey asked ‘Who should contribute financially to the program?’ Sixty-one per cent of merchants said the city should pay while just under 40 per cent said costs should be shared by the city and DTA membership.
Ward 3 Coun. Ron Zagordo asked Rosset to clarify if the DTA membership were willing to contribute financially. “That was a question in the survey to the membership whether they felt all of the money should come from the City of Sault St. Marie or if they’d like the DTA to participate in the funding of the program,” said Rosset. “The majority were in favor and our board was in favor of supplying a Letter of Intent (tonight) that we are. If there’s a specific ask, we can take that back to our board for approval.”
In addition to patrols, SSMPS is using provincial grant dollars to partner with the PUC and Spectrum to install up to 30 PUC light pole cameras and six to eight Spectrum cams in the downtown core.
Spectrum is currently the vendor of choice for highway cameras.
Downtown Plaza Update
The launch of the Sault’s Downtown Plaza is roughly six weeks away.
Deputy CAO Tom Vair, in a report to council, says the plaza is nearing completion and he anticipates a fall launch.
Supply chain issues have delayed the arrival of the stage and digital screen. Both are expected to be installed by mid-October and at that point, all features would be in place.
A number of activities are planned at the plaza this fall including concerts, movie nights, cultural events, Greyhound game day and Hallowe’en activities and Christmas-themed events.
A key component of the plaza concept is to offer activities year-round. A skating rink, splash pad play area, the stage and digital screen and mobile retail units figure prominently in the plan.
The $11 million plaza project began in 2019. It has generated more than $1.2 million in
contributions from the community.