Sault Ste. Marie city council to explore downtown security options

The Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Association could be getting a reprieve from the costs of hiring private security to patrol the downtown core. The City is looking into the possibility of picking up most - if not all - the costs.

The City is preparing a report for Sault Ste. Marie City Council on picking up at least part of the tab for security. But one city councillor would like to see the City assume all the costs associated with patrolling the downtown.

"If there is an investment to be made in our downtown, what the City should be contributing is allowing the downtown retailers to put the money back into their businesses versus putting it into things the City should be picking up like security downtown," says Councillor Matthew Shoemaker, who adds if there is anything the Downtown Association should be contributing, it's knowledge.

"Expertise in the downtown area and their opinions on how the patrols should be conducted," says Shoemaker. "But the City should be paying the cost. Frankly, I think the City should be paying the entire cost because community safety is an expense that the City should be paying for."

Salvatore Marchese, Executive Director of the Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Association, says the City is looking at a preliminary figure of how much the BIA would contribute for security.

"They've thrown a number out if the BIA would be willing to contribute, somewhere in the area of $5,000," says Marchese. "And then the City would look at their end on what it would cost for them to provide the service, but I don't know what their total figure us."

Marchese says with an annual cost for private security being around $18,000, this would represent significant cost savings for the BIA.

"It could go to enhancing our events, or putting on more events and just trying to fill the streets with people to give that presence downtown," he says.

It's not known at this time how long it will be before administration is prepared to make a presentation to council.