The city may soon pull security patrols from the brownfield site at 347 Greenwich St.
Committee of the whole voted Monday night to strike the address from Brantford’s renewed contract with Romex Security Inc.
Coun. Marguerite Ceschi-Smith was adamant that security must be maintained at the former Massey Ferguson site or the entire city could be affected by further fires.
But councillors Jan Vanderstelt and Richard Carpenter agreed that public money should be put to better use than protecting abandoned concrete buildings that are already slated to come down.
Community services general manager Greg Dworak told councillors it was “critical” for security to remain at both brownfield sites until demolition is completed.
Coun. Dan McCreary questioned the wisdom of removing the security and exposing the sprawling site to arson, but his attempt to defer Vanderstelt’s amendment so staff could investigate how to minimize site access and maintain security at a lower cost were defeated.
Romex provides security at several municipal sites, including city hall, Market Square and the transit terminal. Ending patrols on Greenwich Street will save the city approximately $300 per day, said Romex Security owner Roman Kaczmarek.
Council’s decision only affects the buildings on Greenwich Street.
The security that has been posted at 66 Mohawk since the March 30 fire was arranged outside of the pre-existing contract between the city and Romex.
Kaczmarek said having only one guard patrol both brownfield sites could have dangerous consequences.
“We did it before with one guard, and what happened was while we were at 347 Greenwich, 66 (Mohawk) went up in flames,” he said.
“The problem with 347 Greenwich is basically that it’s a big area. It’s 30 buildings that aren’t secure. There are windows missing, doors missing, a chain link fence that’s been there as long as the buildings. It’s accessible. Plus you have the railway tracks at the back, no lighting.
“With no security presence of any sort, it’s a sitting duck.”
The decision to pull security must still be ratified by council, which next meets Aug. 27.
McCreary ultimately voted to remove the site security despite his misgivings. He said he would gather more information from staff, get feedback from police and fire officials as well as a legal opinion as to whether the city is obligated to protect the site, before the next council meeting.
“I’ve got no problem saving the money,” McCreary explained. “Council makes grievous errors when we do things in an ad hoc fashion, and that’s what we did (Monday).”
To inform the public of the security situation and hear any concerns they can bring back to council, Ceschi-Smith, Coun. David Neumann as well as Eagle Place resident and former Brantford fire chief Ross Bennett will hold a short public meeting from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the junction of Mohawk, Greenwich and Murray streets on Saturday, Aug. 25.
Ceschi-Smith described the theme of the meeting as “no more delay, act now.”