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Saskatoon business says rise in 'incidents' in Pleasant Hill reason for planned closure

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The CEO of a financial institution that’s closing its doors next year says a rise in frequency and severity of incidents in the Pleasant Hill community where the building is located is the main reason for the planned closure.

Community leaders are calling for more social supports as well as increased police presence in the area.

The St Mary’s Branch of Affinity Credit Union that’s been part of the fabric of Saskatoon since 1949 is closing permanently in the spring.

“This is not a decision that we've reached lightly,” CEO Mark Lane said. “And yes, it's been driven by a change in the makeup of the neighbourhood, the needs of the community have clearly changed.”

Lane says the frequency and severity of incidents in the community have created safety concerns for staff and members.

“There were more that have a heightened nature in 2023 than there were in 22,” Lane said. “And there was more in 2022 than there was in 2021, so we're clearly seeing a transition within the neighbourhood and it's related to the societal challenges.”

Saskatoon police confirmed the number of incidents have increased year-over-year in the neighbourhood.

“Approximately 500 more calls this year to date,” said superintendent in charge of patrol, Darren Pringle. “That was as of the end of October and so we've still got two months to go. So it's definitely a busier area for us.”

Earlier this week, Mayor Charlie Clark said the area surrounding Prairie Harm Reduction and St. Paul’s Hospital is a hotspot for activity and that budget discussions involved more police presence in the area.

In an email to CTV News, Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR) said the following.

“When PHR made the decision to relocate from Mayfair to Pleasant Hill four years ago, we did so because of the volume of people requiring support in that neighbourhood. The corner of 20th Street and Avenue P was a hotspot for improperly discarded needles, crime and HIV transmission. Over the past couple of years, we have seen an alarming increase in the number of people requiring support in the community and experiencing homelessness. The current concerns in the neighbourhood are directly tied to the lack of housing available in our community and the only way to solve them is to increase housing support for people who use substances."

Pringle said the addition of officers in the area is hindered by the increase of calls in other areas that draw away support.

“We're finding that it's challenging for us to keep them in that area because of the upswing and calls in the entire area in general.”

Lane said no staff will be laid off and they’re looking at alternate locations in the coming months.

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