Published On: Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Prince George Launches Pilot 'Downtown Host Team' Initiative

Prince George Launches Pilot 'Downtown Host Team' Initiative

PRINCE GEORGE - Visitors to Prince George’s downtown area may have noticed some friendly people in high-visibility vests walking the streets over the past few weeks.

Last month, the City of Prince George implemented the pilot Downtown Host Team Initiative to help to foster a safe, positive atmosphere for downtown businesses, residents, workers, and all who visit the area. The Downtown Host Team Initiative is a partnership involving the City, Tourism Prince George, BC Housing, and the Association for Advocating for Women and Children (AWAC).

The Host Program involves contracted security personnel, tourism ambassadors, and outreach workers working regularly scheduled four hour shifts from 9:00am to 8:00pm, Monday to Saturday, to connect people to services, welcome visitors and tourists, and build relationships within the downtown community. The ambassadors are also supported by the City’s Service Centre, the RCMP, Tourism PG, and Downtown Prince George.

In the Program, Tourism PG staff field questions from visitors and tourists to the area, while outreach staff from AWAC try to connect people who need help to food, housing, and health services. Security staff monitor for problem behaviour and, if necessary, report it to the police.

All program participants receive training and orientation from the City of Prince George which includes the scope of their duties, non-violent intervention skills, tourism resources and referrals, and protocols for contacting the RCMP. AWAC provides its own workers, while Tourism Prince George provides its own participating staff. The City of Prince George is providing the funding for the security personnel at a cost of roughly $15,000 for the duration of the Program.

The pilot period began on July 10 and will last until September 10, 2017. Participants are collecting qualitative and quantitative data and recording incidents and interactions with downtown visitors and residents. A program review will be conducted this fall, which will be followed by a decision on whether to continue the program next summer.