Amherst moving forward with security cameras in square, town hall

Darrell Cole
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Town to award $26,471 tender next week

Amherst is expected to award the tender next Monday for video surveillance equipment in Victoria Square and around town hall.

Amherst town council expected to consider a $26,471 tender to Access Security during its regular March session on Monday. Council discussed the matter during its committee of the whole meeting last night.

AMHERST – Amherst is moving forward with plans to place security cameras, not only in Victoria Square, but also around the Dominion Public Building.

Town council will consider the award of a $26,471 tender to Access Security during its regular March session on Monday. Council discussed the matter during its committee of the whole meeting on Monday.

“The solution we’re recommending includes two cameras in Victoria Square, one at the front of town hall for the sidewalk along Victoria Street, one at the northwest corner of town hall for the alley by the Baptist church and two in the north end of town hall for the back parking lot,” deputy CAO Jason MacDonald told council.

The town started exploring video surveillance of Victoria Square after vandals damaged a number of light fixtures at the front of the park last summer. The damage cost several thousand dollars to fix, while there have been other issues in the square, including people hanging out in the bandstand area late at night.

Not included in the request for proposals, but recommended for purchase from the lower bidder, are two indoor security cameras for the town hall lobby, one audio recorder for the front desk at town hall and one monitor for dedicated viewing at the police department.

The deputy CAO said the cameras and audio recorder in the lobby are required for security reasons and to give the town better information when dealing with customer complaints.

MacDonald said the approved capital budget for the cameras was $10,000 and for Victoria Square only, but the request for proposals also included the outside of town hall.

He said the funding will come from the unused portion of the budget for the town hall furniture that had a budget of $18,000 but an actual cost of $10,500. As well, he said, cleaning the stonework on the outside of town hall had a tender of $17,000 plus $4,000 for repointing work on a budget of $30,000.

Coun. George Baker questioned the need to spend that much money on security.

“When I read this over I questioned why are we spending that much money and putting cameras all around town hall and the square,” Baker said. “Have we had trouble around the town hall? Do we need to spend this kind of money, do we need all the cameras?”

MacDonald said there has been vandalism in the square, while there have been issues in the alleyway at night.

“Are the issues major? Probably not, but we have the prices and the ability to move forward with it,” MacDonald said. “We’ve also had instances in the town hall, not physical, with people raising their voices and becoming accusatory. It would be nice if we can record this to know if we handled it in an appropriate manner.”

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: Town council, Baptist church

Geographic location: Victoria Square, Victoria Street

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    March 19, 2014 - 15:52

    It is time to spend more money on the park. It is a great idea to protect the disco lights. Still waiting for all the new business that are going to come to Amherst, to behold these wonders!!!

  • know it all
    March 18, 2014 - 12:48

    only in Amherst where town hall needs protection , are the employees scared that the town residents will complain about the town double dipping on the water in sewage out bills , taxes are to high when we have extra money for foolishness - fired all town employees and rehire only the 2-3 that actually does a day work and that doesn't include any at town hall

  • Steve
    March 18, 2014 - 12:10

    So the elected official says we do not need to spend this money on such fluff and the new assistant CEO ( does a town so small really need one?) tells the elected official that we do. Who is running the town the elected officials or the staff? Why all the cameras ? Is that not what we spend over 25% of the budget on police services for? Another bit of wasted tax payer money.

  • Fuzzy Bear
    March 18, 2014 - 12:06

    This is awesome! It’s about time Amherst moved to embrace the technology available today instead of spending it on multicolored bricks and little green elf houses. If we install cameras all over the downtown area to start with it only stands to reason we should need less human surveillance and therefore our police force costs could be reviewed and adjusted accordingly. The $$$ savings we recover there should pay for the equipment very quickly. One person in a control room with multiple monitors could monitor this entire area constantly and if something suspicious appears to be going on somewhere a squad car could be dispatched immediately to check. Once this first downtown area is completed, cameras should then be installed in areas where vandalism is occurring or has occurred and again we would save on police, police vehicle maintenance, patrols, gas, etc. Like firemen a small contingent of officers could be available at the station to be dispatched on a moment’s notice instead of driving around and around and around all day and night. Amherst is not that big that strategically placed cameras could not cover a very large portion of it. There are people who say that cameras make them nervous and cut into their personal freedoms. This just does not make sense! Why should I or a family member who is out walking at night and have no intention to doing anything illegal actually not feel safer knowing cameras and someone is monitoring my safety to help prevent me being mugged or worse. There are far worse things than having someone see you pick your nose or scratch your butt folks, and unfortunately bad things can happen to good people in today’s society. While statistics in a large city may show the opposite I personally think cameras will greatly decrease crime and reduce vandalism in a small town such as ours. Another simple suggestion I could make is, having walked on Albion St. many times I think we should have speed notification cameras installed there like you see on the highways in construction zones. There are people who are travelling way too fast for that area. With the high traffic on that street, no amount of hidden speed traps there can catch all of them. If the cameras are there 24/7 and say to a driver they are doing over 60 km in a 5o km zone then maybe they will slow down for fear big brother is watching or hiding behind some sign and they may be caught. With a visible notification system in place and a failure to abide by the identified speed limit then if caught fines should be adjusted accordingly.