A committee vote moves community support officers a step closer to being a permanent feature of the city’s core.
The officers were brought in to patrol the Downtown, Broadway and Riversdale areas as a pilot project back in 2013.
The city’s standing policy committee on planning, development and community services passed a recommendation Tuesday that council vote to make the pilot program permanent.
The uniformed officers patrol the Broadway, Downtown and Riversdale Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). They monitor the areas for nuisance behaviour and people needing help who may be in the throes of addiction or mental health problems.
Representatives from each of the BIDs addressed the committee on behalf of their boards. All three said they want to keep the program.
At issue is where $450,000 to fund the officers should come from.
Up to now, it’s been pulled from parking meter revenue meant for street upgrades. The BIDs made it clear they want that money back. With part of the parking revenue from the BIDs also going into the city’s general revenue, the representatives from the BIDs suggested this might be a place to look for the cash.
However, councillors on the committee had concerns that moving the money out of general revenue would ultimately have to be made up with a mill rate increase.
Ultimately, the committee recommended that the program keep being funded out of the street improvement reserve. They also recommended that the city and the BIDs approach the province for help with funding.
A full meeting of Saskatoon City Council will vote on the community support officer program on Sept. 28.