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Perth takes steps to install surveillance cameras to combat vandalism

by | Aug 16, 2019 | Local News | 0 comments

Vandalism at municipal facilities has cost the town of Perth nearly $12,000 in the past year.  

Back in 2016 council was reluctant to pursue video surveillance, but the spike in costly and willful damage to town property since then prompted this council to change direction. In June of this year, staff were given direction to look into implementing a policy and investigate the technologies available earlier this summer.

“I looked at eight to ten municipalities that had policies. It is becoming more and more common to have surveillance in public spaces, more as supporting evidence to prove that someone was in the vicinity at the time of an incident,” Shannon Baillon, Director of Community Services told council.

The staff proposal recommends installing surveillance cameras at the following four locations: Conlon Farm, Terrace on the Tay, Crystal Palace and Last Duel Park.  

“We will have a Policy in place that follows the recommended practices for Video Surveillance from the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.  Strict procedures will be implemented for the collection of and access to the information,” Baillon told Lake 88 News.

The estimated set up cost is between $8,000 and $20,000 and some equipment will need to be replaced once every five years. 

“These would be vandal proof cameras. You can take a hammer to the outside of the camera and nothing will happen,” said Baillon.

The other option – increasing by-law officer patrols – would cost the town an additional $44K per year.

“Video surveillance is generally effective as a deterrent,” said Baillon. 

A Surveillance policy, in line with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy act has been drawn up, and presented at the August 13 Committee of the Whole to general approval from committee members.

“The Town is committed to ensuring that the public’s privacy is protected. We will not monitor the footage, we would only access the video if there were an incident, and only trained staff would be able to view it,” said Baillon.

Cameras will only be installed in public areas, and  signs to that effect will be posted.  No cameras will be installed in change rooms or washrooms, or any other space where a there is a higher expectation of privacy.

Once installed, the cameras cannot be manipulated by the public and only a very few, trained and vetted staff will have access to the recorded footage. 

The policy and staff recommendations will be coming back to council for approval.  Once approved it will take at least six weeks to get the cameras up and running according to Baillon.

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