Vancouver has backed away from its plan to pay $500,000 to support private-security ambassador programs in business improvement areas across the city.

Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) executive director Charles Gauthier said the Downtown Ambassadors will continue to operate, but will likely drop back to 16 hours a day when the one-year contract with the city expires at the end of August.

“It was public money for private security,” said Vision Coun. Raymond Louie, who moved the motion yesterday. “It was servicing only a limited geographical area with public money. A more appropriate model would have been to fund the police or community policing centres.”

The DVBIA launched its ambassador program in 2000 to assist tourists and help crime prevention.

In September, the city provided $237,000 to expand the ambassadors’ hours to 24/7 from the previous 16 hours a day.

The ambassadors program, or similar ones, has expanded to business improvement areas in South Granville, West End, Yaletown and South Hill (Fraser Street).

The $500,000, approved by the previous NPA-dominated council, would have gone to partially funding ambassadors in 15 BIAs outside of the downtown core.

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