“We strive to have a lot of people in our community who travel using active transit and I think a really important part of that is making sure that traveling on active transit at night feels safe and is an option that people do We want to encourage them to travel on foot and by bike, and making sure spaces are properly lit helps encourage this.”
BANFF – A push by a group of residents to have security cameras installed around the Muskrat Street pedestrian bridge will not go ahead.
But the City of Banff will continue to monitor and tend the foliage, and will have city workers return with a report that may add more lighting on the south side of the bridge near Spray Avenue and the YWCA.
“We strive to have a high number of active transit travelers in our community and I think a really important part of that is making sure that active transit travel at night feels safe and is an option that people want to use,” said Corrie DiManno, Mayor of Banff. “We want to encourage them to travel on foot and by bike, and making sure spaces are properly lit helps encourage that.”
Banff’s council voted 5-1 against further investigation of surveillance cameras after a staff report showed there was little empirical evidence. count. Hugh Pettigrew was the only supporting voice and advice. Ted Christensen was absent from the meeting.
The push for security cameras came from a growing group of residents. Lobbying began when one of six girls walking near the Muskrat Street pedestrian bridge on October 31 was sexually assaulted by a masked man in a Halloween costume on the south side of the bridge.
Several council members said they originally backed the idea of placing video cameras near the Muskrat Street footbridge when it was discussed at a council meeting in June. However, the staff report highlighted the statistics, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada emphasizes that video surveillance in public places should only be used to solve a “genuine, urgent and significant problem”.
“It’s about specific and verifiable accounts of crimes, public safety concerns or other compelling circumstances that are needed, not just anecdotal evidence or speculation,” Coun said. said Chip Oliver. “I don’t think the situation we have at the bridge meets those criteria.”
She noted that the complicated process of adding video surveillance was “far more complex” than initially thought.
counts. Barb Pelham, Grant Canning and Kaylee Ram agreed with Olver, adding that the incidents reported were primarily daytime, the complexity of installing and maintaining surveillance equipment, and the number of incidents did not warrant video surveillance.
“For me, the number of incidents does not justify the intensification of efforts to install the video technology and its permanent maintenance. I know that’s hard to understand when it comes down to it [Oct. 31] Incident but I think with the mitigation that we are talking about, foliage maintenance and lightening are actions that I think will increase safety in a more manageable way.”
From 2018-22 there were nine reports to the police related to the footbridge, however the report also highlighted that “not all incidents that occurred in the area were reported to or observed by the police”.
Eight of the calls were made between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., ranging from crime against one person, disturbance of the peace, mischief and a suspect.
A settlement for the Bow River Bridge also had nine reports to the police from 2018-22.
City enforcement had 18 reports made, including animal complaints, public health orders and camping, but they were around the footbridge and not on the bridge.
The report found that surveillance cameras were a good resource for investigating crimes rather than preventing them. While useful and acknowledging public pressure on surveillance cameras, it stated that insufficient evidence had been found that the footbridge required surveillance cameras.
“As we’ve heard, it’s a tool to solve crimes, not deter crimes,” Ram said. “As I am hearing from multiple sources, this is not a high crime area, I cannot support it. It’s not that we don’t support public safety or that we’re ignoring the incident, but it’s just not the right place.”
A motion by Pettigrew to have city employees return to duty review for the cost of video cameras around the Muskrat Street pedestrian bridge was defeated 5-1.
“At this point I can’t understand the cost, which makes it hard for me to say no,” he said. “I’d like a report so we have an opportunity to review the costs and not just the installation but the operation as I think it deserves the numbers that come with it before we commit to it.”
Pettigrew also submitted a motion to study the impact of closing or restricting access to the footbridges at certain times, but was defeated 1-5.
He said the information could help with service verification. DiManno said she appreciates the thought, but it’s counterproductive to the city’s active-mode goals and recommended preventive actions.
Mark Marino, a longtime local who spearheaded CCTV around the footbridge, said the decision was “deflationary” and “frustrating”.
“I cannot express the frustration of myself, my family, other parents and concerned citizens at why the victims have been ignored and why the sexual assault that has taken place is being treated as a one-off,” Marino said.
He said he respects the council’s decision and the efforts of city employees that went into the report, but he’s heard from residents about the disappointment with the decision.
“It is sad to see that there is no will to install surveillance cameras to improve the protection of our citizens against future pedestrian bridge attacks. I hope there will never be another attack of any kind as it will be aimed squarely at the Banff City Administration and Council who voted against the use of the camera.”
Marino said adding lighting – particularly on the south side of the bridge – and tending to foliage are a good first step. He said he will continue to work with residents and groups to push for improved safety in the community.
City officials and RCMP also met with Banff YWCA to support sexual violence prevention, which will return for the 2023 council service review and budget deliberations.
The report focused on Crime Prevention by Environmental Design (CPTED) and looks at natural surveillance, natural access control, territorial reinforcement, and maintenance and management.
It examined the north and south ends of the Muskrat Street footbridge and the 96 meter span.
The soon to be completed Nancy Pauw pedestrian bridge is 80 meters long and spans the Bow River from Central Park to Birch Avenue. It is expected that there could be between 5,000 and 8,000 crossings per day in the summer.
As it is still under construction, the report noted that a general analysis for CEPTD had been performed and that vegetation planted should not affect sight lines or lighting.
Staff recommended monitoring and tending to the foliage, possibly adding more lighting, and possibly creating a continuous path to the YWCA and Spray Avenue.
“One crime against one person is too many, but we share the same common goal of safety and are trying to make this area as safe as possible,” DiManno said. “We have that as a common goal. I think there are different opinions on that.
“For me, the solutions that interest me have something to do with prevention. …Lighting, foliage, communication when driving at night is the approach I want to talk about to make it safer in this part of town. The data and evidence are not there to support cameras that prevent personal crime.”