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Downtown Galt businesses welcoming added overnight security

The City of Cambridge has hired private security to patrol the core overnight
Downtown Cambridge
Phi Doan/ Kitchener Today

Businesses in the downtown Galt core are welcoming the news of added security detail being added to the area.

The City of Cambridge is bringing in four private security guards to work with bylaw officers throughout the week, during the evenings and overnights.

The Downtown Cambridge Business Improvement Association brought up the concern to the city.

Many businesses welcome the additional security as needed as of late.

"And that's only been of late, I've been here three years and I haven't had any trouble until really the last week or two," said Susan Benton, Owner of Cedar Lake Studios. "So I don't know whether it's just an unusual occurrence. I hope it's not an indication that things are getting worse."

Many long-standing businesses in the area expressed similar opinions: stating the issues Cambridge has been facing are nothing new, nor unusual for any other city. Many still maintain that Galt is a beautiful and safe place to shop, but media attention and fewer people walking downtown have created a negative image of the situation.

"Still, I always felt comfortable here. It's just that there are issues going on, and they have to be addressed, and whatever way we can do it, is what we have to do," said Fred Thyson, Owner of Thyson of Galt Quality Footwear.

The COVID-19 pandemic is partly to blame, in some eyes.

With Public Health officials advising people to cut down on social gatherings and outings to cut down on spread, many businesses have resorted to shorter business hours and focusing on takeout and delivery. Fewer people around means fewer eyes to spot and report suspicious activity around the downtown core.

Any cases of vandalism occurring in the evening and overnight end up getting reported on well after the act.

"And it just takes too long for somebody to come and show up, but if we have a presence downtown; security watching the area, then hopefully these incidents will stop," said Val Sing, Owner of Colour Dress Boutique. She said she's had to deal with property damage, and that other businesses along Main Street had to contend with windows being smashed.

Another aspect businesses are noticing is the homeless population roaming the downtown core. The pandemic cutting back their access to social services and places to go has led to an increased presence, according to some businesses.

"They are a little bit lost, so it has impacted their state of mind, so they're kind of loitering just a little bit more than they used to, without a purpose," said Rebecca Edmondson with First Class Alteration. She hopes the security guards will do more beyond just monitoring the area, and help connect people with social supports.

Monica Braun, Co-owner of Monigram Coffee Roaster, said the added security is just one small solution to a much bigger problem the city faces.

"Like everything else, we need affordable housing; we need places for people to be; the winter months are getting colder, and as I said, the businesses are struggling."

Braun said the city should continue to support businesses during this time.




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