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Crime

City councillor pitches new relief plan for Calgarians’ security costs associated with drug-related crime

WATCH: A bit of relief may be on the way for people dealing with increased drug crime in Calgary’s downtown area. Because of break-ins and vandalism, many businesses and residential buildings have had to spend more on security. With more now on a new effort to help with that, here’s Gil Tucker.

Calgary city councillor Jeromy Farkas has come out with a new proposal to help people dealing with drug-related crime in the downtown area.

Farkas is suggesting that some of $25 million that the city has set aside for mental health and addiction initiatives should go to help businesses and residents spending more on security, particularly around the Sheldon Chumir Supervised Consumption Site and the Alpha House drug and alcohol treatment centre.

READ MORE: Calgarians petition to move Alpha House rehab centre because of crime concerns

“We’ve reached a breaking point in our communities: [there are] local residents and business owners under tremendous stress, as well as financial pressure,” Farkas said.

“We can’t ask them to shoulder these costs alone.”

The potential program was welcomed by some people forced to protect themselves against drug-related crime, such as break-ins and vandalism.

“We’ve put this metal screen on the back [parking garage] door, because we’ve had people cutting through the plastic to get into the building,” said Darryl Cariou, who chairs a condo board in Calgary. “I hear from residents [that] people are just afraid to walk out of the building. We have spent probably in excess of $50,000 hardening our building, upgrading our security systems.”

READ MORE: 17 Avenue businesses call for help amid uptick in crime

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The owner of a bookstore across the street from the drug consumption site improved his security system after a woman smashed the front window during a break-in.

“We’re seeing more of it than we did before the… [supervised] injection site was there,” said Will Lawrence, the owner of Shelf Life Books. “We have incurred a lot of expenses: our cameras, they were necessary to upgrade. [It cost] $6,852 for the cameras and the monitoring system that goes with it.”

Farkas will take his proposals for a relief program to Calgary City Council on Monday, July 22.

READ MORE: Calgary police say increased calls mean ‘positive impact’ near supervised consumption site

“If there are things that we can do in terms of potentially some kind of grant program, to be able to offset security costs… as well as offer more in-kind contributions from the city, I think it’s definitely worth us exploring,” Farkas said.

The program would come at a time when many small businesses are struggling for a variety of reasons.

“We’re dealing with heavier property taxes and things like that,” Lawrence said. “So we really appreciate that.”

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