Prince George will be hiring four new bylaw officers this year, as well as opening a new downtown safety office.

City Council voted unanimously in favor to reallocate the $400,000 annual budget from Civic Facilities for security service costs to Bylaw Services at last night’s (Monday) meeting.

This would enable the hiring of the officers, with a view on improving management of social issues in the downtown area.

According to Acting City Manager Walter Babicz, the officers would be deployed seven days a week from 7 to 11 pm, from the forthcoming downtown public safety office.

The office will be located at Second Avenue and George Street, and is planned to open between March and April, with full capacity to begin in May.

“Those four officers would have more of a boots on the ground approach,” said Babicz.

The officers would be walking predetermined routes in order to maximize coverage, he explained, also covering civic facilities downtown.

They would also be using an integrated approach, working with community groups, Northern Health and the RCMP.

“I am looking forward to this new office opening and the comprehensive service model because I think without a comprehensive approach it will not be successful,” commented Councillor Murry Krause.

The recommendation came on the heels of feedback from the Safe, Clean, and Inclusive Committee.

Babicz also explained the $400,000 was already approved last year, it would just be used for a different purpose.

The 2020-2024 operational financial plan approved by Council includes a $1,422,795 service enhancement package to better manage the downtown and area social issues.

According to the report, a number of multi-department service enhancements were implemented in the city in 2020.

These enhancements were focused on policing, security, bylaw services, social inclusion, and parkade cleanliness and safety, as well as bio-hazard materials, clean up.

It was decided that these goals would be better met if the money were to be reallocated from private security to bylaw service, explained Babicz.

The recommendation was one of four enhancements recommended by the Safe, Clean, Inclusive Community Committee to improve the downtown area.