A Victoria-based security firm says it’s expanding its services to include patrolling more shops in the lower Johnson Street and Yates Street areas.
The announcement comes after several businesses in the Lower Johnson (also known colloquially as “LoJo”) neighbourhood announced last week that they would consider banding together to hire a security company to combat an increase in thefts and mental health altercations seen in the downtown core.
On Jan. 17 merchants met with the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) and Themis Security to discuss ideas, with a group decision expected to take several weeks to be made. A majority of 60 per cent of businesses on the strip must be in favour of the decision before a group contract can be signed.
In the meantime, Themis said individual businesses in the area have already signed up.
“We’re still working with DVBA and various associations on making more consistent coverage, but we’ve had some individual businesses come on board, especially in the last two or three weeks,” said Mirko Filipovic, president of Themis Security Services Ltd. “A good chunk of businesses on the 500-block of Johnson, all the way up to Broad Street, are on board.”
Several businesses on Yates Street have also opted for extra security recently, including Bernstein and Gold, Amelia Lee, Hughes and Patagonia.
Filopovic added that on Friday his company will also be meeting with a group of Broad Street merchants to see if additional contracts can be signed.
The DVBA said that despite Themis’ announcement, no decisions have been made.
“[We] only act as facilitator, the impetus for looking at hiring security came directly from the businesses,” said Jeff Bray, executive director of the DVBA. “To be clear, there is no contract for all the LoJo businesses and any security company, including Themis.”
For now, Themis will cover the sporadic businesses along the strip which have already signed on. Filipovic said that if staff see an incident at a neighbouring business which does not have a contract, help is limited.
“If someone would do something that could result in an injury, I hope someone – in uniform or not– would step in and do the right thing,” he said. “But if it’s more of a nuisance thing we woudn’t have any legal authority to step onto the property.”
More decisions are expected to be made in regards to group contracts in upcoming weeks.