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Security vacuum worries merchants

Herb Mathisen
Northern News Services
Published Friday, April 04, 2008

YELLOWKNIFE - Saturday will be Twilight Security's last day patrolling lower Centre Square Mall, according to several merchants there.

The impending security crunch has left merchants wondering who will be replacing them.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Kyla Kakfwi Scott, left, manager of Bootlegger in the Centre Square Mall, stands next to Kristine Jonasson, middle, and Chloée Baillardgeon-Parent, right. Last Saturday, Baillardgeon-Parent was pushed by a drunk shoplifter after confronting him about stolen merchandise outside the store. - Herb Mathisen/NNSL photo

"I'm worried primarily about the safety of my staff," said Kyla Kakfwi Scott, manager of Bootlegger.

Although Twilight Securities and Centre Square Mall management could not be reached for comment at press time, four mall merchants confirmed that, as of Saturday, April 5, Twilight Securities will no longer be providing security to the lower portion of the mall.

Merchants received a memo earlier this week from mall management, stating that Twilight Security will be terminating their security services there. Mall management had been given three weeks notice from Twilight Security. Merchants were not made aware of the news until the beginning of this week.

The mall is divided into two sections.

The lower portion of the mall is the area below the stairs at Athlete's World and only that portion will be affected by the cessation of services.

As of press time, the merchants had not been notified of the hiring of a new security provider, though many merchants believed that mall management was in the process of conducting interviews.

Shelter Canadian Properties Ltd., the company that manages the Centre Square Mall, placed a job advertisement for a security officer on Jobsnorth.ca on Wednesday.

Mall merchants are worried that if the security service is not in place by Sunday, then the safety of mall employees could be compromised.

"It leaves store merchants in a situation where they might have to take security into their own hands," said Jane Frost, a sales associate with Reitmans.

"It's an endangerment of my own safety. There was a guy beating a wall a couple days ago," Frost said. "Who knows when he might take that aggression out on a person?"

Renee Wiseman, a sales associate with Head Gear, said she was worried about drunks and the potential for theft.

"Security really helps keep people moving through the mall," she said.

She sympathized with mall security guards and understood why they may have wanted to get out of their situation.

"We've had quite a few people hit our guards," she said.

Kakfwi Scott said that while her employees are trained at preventing shoplifting, there are some situations where pursuing individuals could jeopardize her employees' safety.

"Sometimes there are people that we are not comfortable approaching," she said, "And if I'm calling the RCMP, they could be here in 30 seconds, or 10 minutes if they are busy with something else."