The controversial and potentially costly idea of placing video surveillance cameras on Sackville streets came up for discussion at Tuesday’s town council meeting after a business owner urged councillors to consider installing cameras on all roads leading out of town.
During the public question period, Wendy Alder, co-owner of the Ultramar gas station on Cattail Ridge, said that in the last two months, the RCMP have asked to see surveillance footage from her business three times as they investigated the thefts of a wood splitter and dump trailer as well as damage to a motel room.
“There was also two other cases last December where there was a break-in on our corner as well — well, the Glowing Embers — and again, we used our video system to help to solve that,” Alder told council.
She also mentioned that the owners of a truck stolen on Queen’s Road wanted to see if that truck had driven past the Ultramar, but as it turned out, the stolen vehicle went through Dorchester.
Alder said that in her opinion, the police could gain valuable information to help solve crimes if the town installed cameras on routes leading out of Sackville including both Trans Canada highway exits, Queen’s Road and maybe King Street.
Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken, who chaired Tuesday’s council meeting, responded that when the town considered installing surveillance cameras several years ago, it turned out to be quite complicated and expensive.
“There’s lots of legal implications,” Aiken said. “It’s not just putting up a camera. You put one up on your business, that’s your business, but out on a public street, as I recall, there are other laws and considerations that come into it,” the deputy mayor added. “We can certainly take it under consideration.”
Councillors weigh in
Councillor Bill Evans told Alder he was grateful for her question because he knows that police routinely use footage from closed circuit TV cameras (CCTV) installed in private businesses.
He said that while it could be expensive for the town to set up a CCTV system, times have changed since council last considered the issue.
“I was not as enthusiastic six or seven years ago; times have changed, so I don’t think it would be inappropriate for us to look at this again,” Evans said. “I’m really glad that the question [has been raised] to think about this again. Perhaps we should reconsider it.”
Councillor Bruce Phinney agreed with Evans that council should take another look at installing cameras.
“I think it’s something we should seriously look at now despite the cost because it’s something that I truly believe probably needs to be put in place,” Phinney said. “We can research to find out the cost and see exactly just how we could put it in, maybe we can get sponsorship from some of the companies as well.”
Phinney said he recalled that Mount Allison Professor Michael Fox had generated a report concluding that it would be too expensive for the town to install a surveillance system.
The report, submitted to council in 2013, was researched and written by then Mt. A. student Emma Jackson and supervised by Professor Fox.
It warned that aside from legal considerations arising from privacy laws and the Charter of Rights, the estimated cost of installing and maintaining an eight-camera surveillance system in Sackville would come to at least $350,000 in the first year of operation.
The report, along with an opinion piece by Michael Fox published by the Sackville Tribune-Post, also pointed to research showing that surveillance cameras have limited effects in deterring crime.
To read the full report entitled Exploring the Potential for a Public CCTV Monitoring System in Sackville, New Brunswick click here.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, Deputy Mayor Aiken said town staff would take another look at the pros and cons of installing surveillance cameras on Sackville streets.
One only has to consult with any up-to-date community to see what they have done as far as surveillance camera installations. Windsor NS, population 3700, would be a nearby contender. They had 33 cameras in operation on May 7, 2019 and will have approximately 50 installed by the end of this December. The majority of cameras are highway and intersection related with some being installed on, as well as inside, city owned buildings. Halifax, on the other hand, currently has well in excess of 1,000 surveillance cameras up and running.
Windsor’s camera program started back in 2011 and has slowly expanded since. All of their cameras are Bosch Starlight high resolution units which capture high definition video (no sound) and switch to night vision once the sun sets. All video is stored for 58 days before being dumped. Total expenditure so far for the Windsor project is approx $130,000 which includes the fiber optics backbone. Windsor RCMP is quoted as saying that the installation of the cameras HAS reduced crime in the town.
Hopefully an upcoming budgeted allotment will enable Sackville to get on board in the effort to reduce crime in our Town. Cameras act as a major visual deterrent to those that know they are there and act as a huge assist many times to solving crimes.
That’s great information Percy!
I no longer wonder why the ” good people ” of Sackville won’t help out and work to promote and build a youth concrete skatepark project that would cost about $500,000…. this article is really the kicker for me in 2019.. all those people out there that are happy to have surveillance cameras installed for the ‘greater good’ of ‘community’… you people of the boomer generation just don’t get it do you? You are destroying the essence of life in Canada with your ‘good deeds… the real criminals in Canada sit in Ottawa passing laws and removing freedom and taxing the crap out of all of us but by all means continue to promote projects that waste taxpayer money in as many ways as you possibly can think of .. thanks for nothing. #No Funsville [ those $10,000 black plant pots in the recent budget made me laugh]