Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

At its April 8 regular meeting, Town of Peace River council furthered its intentions to make downtown safer by approving removal of Main Street flower planters.

“Over the past few years, Peace River has been part of the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) which looks at ways that some changes in street landscape to make a community less enticing to those thinking about committing crimes,” says Mayor Elaine Manzer.

“Due to their size and structure and ongoing issues of homelessness/addictions/mental health being present in our downtown core, individuals have been loitering, sitting and sleeping on or in the planters,” she adds.

Manzer explains CPTED has been looking for various ways to ensure the areas around business in the downtown core were less attractive to those who loiter, to make it safer for guests and shoppers of the establishments.

“One of the CPTED recommendations was to change the planters by putting up fencing of some sort,” explains Manzer.

“However, there was a concern that drilling into the concrete would likely damage the entire construction. Also, fencing was not likely to stop people from sleeping in the planters.”

Manzer explains that a motion was passed, directing administration to remove planters and to replace them with smaller ones that don’t allow individuals to sleep or sit on them. She says the new planters will also have a water reservoir to help with watering.

“We seem to be continually having new homeless arriving in Peace River including some being released from the Correctional Centre,” says Manzer.

Peace River has experienced a number of cases of vandalism, robbery and other crimes associated with the influx of homeless people in the downtown core, and CPTED’s goal is to help owners change the physical environment to discourage crime. This includes things like repainting derelict buildings, adding additional lighting, adding cameras, making sure windows are free of advertisement to improve sightlines, blocking of narrow dark pathways between buildings and other minor esthetic changes.

“Hopefully, by not having these two planters, people will not be hanging around regularly causing disturbances at these locations,” says Manzer.

“We hope that businesses, their staff and customers and others visiting in the area will not be bothered by the behaviours that were happening regularly at these locations.”