Vancouver City Council has voted against a motion to explore the use of CCTV cameras in public places.
Com. Melissa De Genova brought the motion forward in response to what she claims is a spike in violent crime and random attacks in the city.
In recent high-profile stranger assaults, Vancouver police were able to use video from security cameras on private property to identify suspects.
“The motion doesn’t say how we should deploy these cameras,” De Genova said in an interview with CTV News.
“I would leave that to the experts who are the (Vancouver Police Department), our city staff, as well as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. I understand there are privacy issues here.
Lorraine Lowe, executive director of Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, said she was disappointed to hear the motion was no longer on the table.
“I see there could be advantages in Chinatown, given the number of incidents that happen here,” she said.
But she remains optimistic that the conversation about public safety will continue.
“It’s a discussion that really needs to be amplified,” she said. “We’re taking a step in the right direction, but it’s illuminating and maybe it will also help us look at other issues, like mental health policies and things like that.”
West End businesses also suffered at the hands of vandals.
John Clerides, owner of Marquis Wine Cellar, isn’t entirely convinced that installing more security cameras is the solution.
“I know there’s the privacy issue and there’s the security issue, I understand both sides. But if you look at what’s happened in Vancouver over the last two years, I I’m probably leaning a bit more into the security issue,” he said. .
Chris Angerer, who works downtown, has observed how rampant violent crime and burglary has become since the pandemic.
“I don’t mind at all that you can see who did it and catch them,” he said. “People want to feel safe. If you have nothing to hide, you probably wouldn’t mind.”
But privacy has been a major sticking point since the motion was first introduced last week.
“How do you respond to the criticism that this just leads your big brother to stare at you, and that’s another invasion of privacy?” asked councilor Colleen Hardwick.
The question of funding also came up with the mayor saying that a public surveillance system would be very expensive.
“It could cost tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of dollars,” Kennedy Stewart said.
In a lopsided result, the board voted 8-1 against the motion.
“If the police had presented us with a thorough, well-researched and compelling request, based on evidence and a real need they saw, I would be more inclined to consider it,” Coun said. Pete Fry.
“I see it campaigning on Twitter with the hashtag Vancouver is dying and I see it as a very fear-based approach to political campaigning.”
“We can talk about public safety or we can act on it. This advice has proven dysfunctional because we don’t act, we talk a lot, but not a lot of action on it,” said a visibly frustrated From Genoa.
Several members of the public spoke at the meeting, with the strong majority opposing the motion, citing concerns about the possible impact on marginalized and vulnerable communities.
A public safety forum will be held on Thursday evening, where members of the public can once again offer their thoughts on growing safety concerns in the city.
With files from Ben Miljure of CTV News Vancouver