Peace Arch News

Waterfront cameras not justified in White Rock: city manager

City of White Rock staff have advised against installing surveillance cameras on the waterfront. - Tracy Holmes photo
City of White Rock staff have advised against installing surveillance cameras on the waterfront.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes photo

White Rock hasn’t proven its case for surveillance cameras on the city’s waterfront.

But such a system may be exactly what’s needed to curb illegal dumping at the city’s operations yard.

The findings were outlined in a report to council that was presented Monday evening.

“At this time, it would be difficult to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Information and Privacy Commissioner that we have exhausted conventional means of achieving law-enforcement objectives on the pier, along the promenade, and area of the railway line,” writes Dan Bottrill, the city’s chief administrative officer.

“Staff has been in discussion with the RCMP to monitor law enforcement issues in this area with a view to determine whether or not circumstances are changing that would ultimately satisfy the criteria to utilize surveillance. Until…this criteria has been satisfied, it is recommended that the city not proceed.”

The report was in response to a motion made last June by Coun. Al Campbell calling for the equipment.

Citing the city’s corporate priority of protecting public safety, he said such a system would be valuable both in deterring crime and gathering “possible video feed of what’s happening in that area.”

“I really believe that here, our pier and promenade… a lot of things are going on down there we’re really not aware of,” he told Peace Arch News at the time. “(Something) will happen one day, and we’ve got to be prepared for something like that.”

The motion to look into the cost, necessity and legality of installing the cameras was supported by all but one councillor.

Helen Fathers – who last summer described the exercise as “a total waste of time” – told PAN she is not surprised by Bottrill’s finding.

“I knew that the crime stats weren’t there to support it,” she said. “It’s good to see it in black and white.”

In recommending the city not proceed with the waterfront suggestion, Bottrill notes privacy-office guidelines for public-area surveillance make it clear such steps should only be used as a last resort.

At the works yard, Fathers said, closed-circuit cameras would be “a Band-Aid solution.”

If it’s determined cameras are warranted there, the system would cost $10,000 to $20,000 to install, and is expected to help catch and fine illegal dumpers.

In addition to receiving Bottrill’s report, council was to consider proposed amendments to the city’s garbage and recycling collection and disposal bylaw that would implement escalating penalties for those caught dumping garbage within White Rock’s boundaries. Fines are recommended to start at $500, to a maximum of $2,000.

 

 

 

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