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Saskatoon Subway restaurant cuts hours due to safety concerns


Mandy Thibodeau is worried about the safety of her employees at the Subway on 22nd Street and 2nd Avenue in downtown Saskatoon.

“I can't get staff to work past dark, and I don't expect them to,” she said.

“We've had too many assaults and it's terrifying working downtown.”

As owner of the restaurant, she’s made the decision to shorten the hours of operation and is now locking the doors to the restaurant after dark to keep employees safe from what she says are dangerous people who are drunk or on drugs.

“You don't know what kind of weapons they're carrying, what their reaction is going to be,” she said.

“If I have someone come in here and they come to steal something or [they’re] harassing customers, I politely asked them to leave, they will refuse, and then they will get aggressive a lot of the time.”

Thibodeau says the situation has worsened in the last month or two.

“It's always been bad downtown, but just not like this,” she said.

“It's frustrating that we have to do that because we're losing a lot of business.”

She says initially there was no help from police.

“I would call the communications, they would tell me they can't do anything because the person is already out of my store because they would just run and grab stuff and leave,” she said.

“They wouldn't tell the police, they wouldn't put a report in, wouldn't put a call in, so it's the same people doing these things over and over again.”

During Monday’s city council meeting, Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper said calls for service have increased by about 8,000 this year, while social disorder calls are going up about 7 per cent every year.

He spoke to city council about the confidence he has in the alternative response officer (ARO) program.

“They’re really well designed for business area type locations in the city where there’s pedestrian traffic in particular,” he said.

It started as a pilot project with six unarmed special constables who patrolled the streets primarily in downtown and Riversdale, freeing up police officers for higher-risk calls, and the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners has approved making it a permanent program.

Cooper says ARO’s receive trauma-informed training and training around addictions and homelessness, and can provide opportunities to connect people to social service providers.

“They also work in the same area often enough that they get to know business owners, and can hear from them personally what their challenges are, and try to come up with plans to address those challenges.”

Thibodeau says more patrol officers downtown would help.

“We just need it to be dealt with, and to be taken seriously,” said Thibodeau.

“When I call for help I shouldn't have to beg on the phone for someone to come and help me. They should just put a call out; have a police officer come right away.” Top Stories

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