Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area launches ambassador program to assist police
The Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) of Peterborough, Ont., is taking a bold move to help improve the reputation of the city’s central core. The association announced it will appoint “ambassadors” to help provide an extra set of eyes and ears on the street, watching for such things as aggressive or inappropriate behaviour, or vandalism.
“I think this will make people feel a little safer when they are downtown,” said retailer John Martin of John Roberts Clothiers.
Statistics show that Peterborough’s downtown is safe, but there is a persistent belief it is not. Peterborough police make regular foot patrols through the area, but to create a more welcoming and secure atmosphere, the DBIA launched its ambassador program on Friday, August 4.
The ambassadors will act as a “force multiplier” for the police, says Peterborough Police Chief Murray Rodd.
“They can provide evidence, they can take pictures, they can deter activities just by being present and available and being willing to confront anti-social behaviour — all of that will be of assistance,” he said.
The three ambassadors will be provided by Kawartha Guard Services, a downtown security firm. The program will be paid for through funds given to the DBIA by the city as part of a compensation package due to the relocation of the proposed casino out of the downtown area.
Peterborough DBIA executive director Terry Guiel says the downtown houses resources for those with homelessness, mental health or addiction issues. He adds dealing with the residual effects of these resources should not be the DBIA’s job but it’s been forced upon them by the inactivity of those responsible.
He adds dealing with the residual effects of these resources should not be the DBIA’s job but has been forced upon them by the inactivity of those responsible.
“These organizations, mental health, social services, Jeff Leal’s office, Maryam Monsef’s office, they need to take a stronger stand to deal with the mental health and addictions in this city, and I feel everyone is failing now in that regard,” he said.
The ambassadors will also provide tourism and visitor information to those vacationing in Peterborough. This would include finding particular businesses, how to access free downtown WiFi and where to park. They will also have change available for parking meters.
The pilot project will run until September, when its effectiveness will be evaluated.
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