Update: Dec. 14, 4:55 p.m.
Kelowna city council has included 24-hour monitoring of downtown city CCTV cameras in its 2018 budget.
The decision ended up being unanimous after Coun. Brad Sieben swayed the only opponent to the move, Mayor Colin Basran, by pointing out money that was going to be used to build a security pavilion at the Queensway transit hub had been diverted earlier to help improve transit in the Rutland area instead.
“I think (the video monitoring) would be a good stop-gap,” said Sieben.
Basran said that argument made him reconsider his opposition and he ended up voting with the rest of council to move $30,000 into the budget to cover the cost of the monitoring.
On Thursday, council approved its 2018 provisional budget, which is predicting a tax increase on the municipal portion of property taxes at 3.6 per cent, just 0.01 per cent higher thanthe figure council started with when annual day-long budget deliberations started Thursday morning.
Now Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran knows how Coun. Charlie Hodge feels.
Frequently, when it comes to raising issues and finding support at the council table, Hodge is a lone voice. He has even taken to calling himself “a lone wolf” on council.
On Thursday, during council’s deliberations of the 2018 city budget, Basran found himself the only one opposing a move by another councillor, Maxine DeHart, to lead to city CCTV security cameras downtown being monitored round the clock.
“We have made a tremendous amount of headway with things like additional patrols,” said DeHart. “But more needs to be done.”
She was supported by Coun. Mohini Singh, who said the $30,000 requested for the move was a small amount in the grand scheme of the $134 million city budget.
But Basran said he was opposed.
Noting the 2018 provisional budget includes plans for four more RCMP officers—some of whom will be deployed downtown—he said he could not support sending the issue for discussion at the end of the deliberations later in the day. At that time, it could be the subject of a vote to include the 24-hour-per-day monitoring in the budget.
The cameras are located in city parkades, Kasugai Gardens, the Queensway Transit Exchange, Stuart Park. All are listed as “areas of concern.” If approved, the camera feeds would be monitored round the clock.
The city quietly installed the CCTV cameras in the summer and, up to now, have only monitored them on a limited basis. The cameras, however, have prompted 425 co-ordinated responses by authorities.
The “deliverable” that the round-the-clock monitoring could provide is described by city staff as a proactive response to security concerns related to intoxication, drug use, theft and confrontation and aggressive behaviour by transients, the homeless, youths and individuals known to police.
In the end, all members of council except Basran voted to discuss the issue later in the day.
The budget also includes eight multi-purpose, dash/body cameras to be used by bylaw officers when out patrolling the streets. The cameras will cost $3,000.
Singh said they will be welcome in light of everyone now carrying camera phones and posting to social media.
An additional bylaw officer will also be hired because of growing demands for service by the bylaw department.
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