Last month, two new city employees began working downtown to assist with public safety, cleanliness, and security in the area. The bylaw compliance assistants are responsible for proactively monitoring and responding to concerns of downtown safety and cleanliness, such as homeless camps, according to a city news release.
Since they started in mid-May, the assistants have dealt with about 170 issues, the vast majority of which have involved the removal of illegal camping in public or private places. They have also assisted with the removal of garbage. In addition, the bylaw assistants work to connect people requiring assistance to outreach services.
The staff are authorized to clean up small camps immediately, including removing improperly disposed syringes, and coordinating other resources, such as Parks and Solid Waste Services staff and private contractors, for larger cleanups.
While the downtown is the focus, the bylaw compliance assistants’ area includes the commercial area along First Avenue between Carney Street to the west and the Fraser River to the east. They also provide service in the commercial areas near Patricia Boulevard and Queensway.
The assistants work under the supervision of the senior bylaw enforcement officer and the manager of bylaw services and regularly communicate and coordinate with the RCMP Downtown Safety Unit and various social agencies.
“So far, the response from downtown businesses has been very enthusiastic,” says Fred Crittenden, manager of bylaw services. “We have received several positive messages from business operators thanking us for this service, particularly relating to needle cleanup and removal of illegal campsites.”
Earlier this year, council approved the bylaw assistants program for funding until the end of September, after which a review of the program will be provided to council.