Founded in 1826, the City of London is Canada’s 10th largest city; with a population of more than 366,000, the City provides over 95 unique services to its residents. The City has a dynamic workforce embracing sectors from manufacturing to health care and a growing IT sector. It offers world-class education and research institutions and was selected as one of the top 10 places to live in Ontario by MoneySense Magazine in 2012.
In 1988, London’s municipal by-law enforcement and parking department was challenged to reduce the escalating costs associated with its operation – human resources, departmental vehicle maintenance, training, etc. At the same time, they were asked to increase revenue from the city’s parking lots and meters and accommodate a growing population without compromising service.
Commissionaires already had a long-standing history of providing security guards to the City and were well-positioned to assist the by-law enforcement detachment.
Commissionaires won the contract in 1988, initially providing five personnel working shifts six days per week. In the early days, enforcement was limited to shopping malls, residential complexes, fire routes and handicapped zones.
“Now, 25 years later, we use 20 Commissionaires 24 hours/day almost 7 days a week,” says Annette Drost, Manager, Municipal Law Enforcement Services, Parking and Licensing Department & Compliance Services.
“Commissionaires enforce 70 by-laws from expired parking meters, handicap parking violations, and coverage for municipal parking lots to name a few. We also have a private property program with businesses to ensure that parked vehicles on their premises are there legitimately and not for other areas such as the college,” states Drost. Day and night, Commissionaires walk beats or patrol streets in their vehicles. They bring tickets issued to the City office every morning, then validate and file them after first electronically downloading them to the City’s system.
“Commissionaires will also attend at court if there is a dispute or a trial. They identify themselves and their role, give evidence of the infraction and are cross examined before a judge gives a verdict,” says Drost.
Drost says services provided by Commissionaires have been extremely cost-effective and revenue brought in from ticket generation has increased. “I’ve found that Commissionaires are highly professional and exceed my expectations. You see the difference with Commissionaires. They’re responsive and very well trained.”
Commissionaires use their vehicles while on patrol, which also helps save money for the City by eliminating vehicle maintenance costs. Additionally, costs associated with payroll and training are reduced, as Commissionaires perform those functions already. Drost says internal feedback on Commissionaires has been very good. “Everyone enjoys working with them. They’ve become our colleagues – part of the team.” she says. “It’s a real win-win,” says Drost. “Commissionaires have high standards, being ex-military. They are meticulous, professional and thorough.”
The long history of City-wide services delivered by Commissionaires is strong and the solid working relationship with the City of London staff and residents continues, 25 years after it first began. Drost believes that’s a strong foundation to build on. She says budget constraints are always a reality and the search for efficiencies will always be a part of business, possibly resulting in additional opportunities for Commissionaires with the City of London. “Good customer service. Responsive and reliable. We couldn’t do our work without them,” says Drost.