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Chamber endorses police budget increase, citing ‘devastating’ impact of crime on local business

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Tara Jeffrey

An unprecedented police budget increase has the support of the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce, its CEO says.

In a letter to Sarnia’s mayor and council, Carrie McEachran is urging members to support the 2023 Police Services Budget, which calls for an 11.5% increase to boost areas like mental health and addiction, and a new auxiliary police unit ‘to get more eyes and ears on the street.’

“Crime has devastating effects and many local businesses and their staff have been directly affected by the rising crime in our city,” McEachran writes, noting the chamber represents more than 500 businesses that employ some 17,000 people in economic sectors across Sarnia-Lambton.

“On a weekly basis, our office receives numerous calls from Chamber members who are desperately seeking guidance on how to monitor and control costs of crime occurring at their workplaces,” she added, pointing to mounting costs for things like increased security, insurance, repairs needed after a break-in, and loss of work hours.

“A recent phone call came from a business who is incurring additional costs of hiring security to safety escort their employees to their vehicles at night,” she added.

“Businesses are not only worried about the increased expenses, but there is great concern for the safety of their employees and customers due to the rising crime in our community.”

Approximately 8% of the police budget increase cannot be changed because it relates to committed items and provincial standards of policing.

However, an additional 2.7% ($753,000) is being requested for outreach programs such as MHEART and IMPACT.

The budget has already been approved by the police services board but must also be approved by city council when the Sarnia budget is debated on Jan. 10.

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