Portage la Prairie is a small city in the Central Plains Region of Manitoba. As of 2011, the population was 12,996 and the land area of the city was 24.67 square kilometers. Portage la Prairie is located approximately 75 kilometers west of Winnipeg and sits on the
Assiniboine River. The city is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie. Since Portage la Prairie is a commercial hub for the Central Plains Area, it serves some 50,000 people living within a 50km radius. Agriculture and related processing and services are a mainstay of the economy.
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba Overview
As with most municipalities, Portage la Prairie must work within a strict budget. One of the responsibilities of City Manager, Jean-Marc Nadeau, is to contain costs.
A past decision by City Council moved the bylaw enforcement function away from City Hall into the Planning District. “I suggested to Council that we bring bylaw enforcement back to the City as a function we could manage,” says Nadeau. “They agreed and when the bylaw officers retired, we put together a business case to bring the position back to City Hall.” Nadeau explains, “Parking meter control was separate. I saw an opportunity to bring both under one contract to create efficiencies.”
With a mandate to create efficiencies and contain costs, Nadeau issued an RFP for the required non-core police services – parking control and bylaw enforcement combined into one function.
The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires won the contract for Portage la Prairie, to provide bylaw, parking and animal control services, with the combined functions of parking meter control and bylaw enforcement with the City, and under one contract.
“As a former RCMP officer, I was already familiar with Commissionaires,” says Nadeau. “I knew about their history and culture from my many years with the RCMP and I knew they would bring a high level of professionalism to the job.”
Since cost containment was an important factor for the City, Nadeau and the Council were very pleased when they discovered that combining the three functions under one contract was saving money. “We save approximately $60,000 yearly,” says Nadeau.
The Commissionaires work with residents, especially property owners to develop a relationship with them and educate them about bylaw compliance. “Education is key for our community,” Nadeau states. “It’s a big component of any program. That means we rely on Commissionaires for their good interpersonal skills and their ability to work effectively with the least amount of intervention.”
Nadeau says the City is very pleased with the positive comments they receive from the public and business owners about the high level of professionalism shown by Commissionaires. “When citizens or visitors come into town and park, they see a uniformed Commissionaire and it instills confidence. It’s like an invitation to come in and you’ll be looked after.
”Citizens are looked after…and sometimes saved! Nadeau recounts that a Commissionaire who was substituting for another Commissionaire, was walking his patrol and noticed an individual in distress. Nadeau says the Commissionaire immediately recognized the person was having a heart attack and that the Commissionaire’s training kicked in. He knew what to do and did it.
“Our Council is happy with the comments they receive from the public about our Commissionaires. Initially, some were concerned about using Commissionaires in animal control, but the Commissionaire works very closely with the animal protection officer that comes here. They work very well together and we’re encouraged that we may be able to train our Commissionaire/animal control officer to do more animal protection too,” says Nadeau.
Portage la Prairie residents are very happy with their Commissionaires, as is the City Manager. “Commissionaires is the group I would want to continue working with. I’ve recommended them to others, including rural municipalities.”