This has been without question the biggest hot button topic over the last few years, in particular since the onset of Covid. I hear it all the time that people just do not feel safe in their community and that much more needs to be done to combat the increase in criminal activity. The perception is that no one is taking this matter seriously and our way of life is degrading on a daily basis. Downtown and the Tranquille corridor have been overrun by the indigent, homeless, drug addled, and mentally ill members of our community. They engage in open drug use, theft, harassment, property damage, and more. They have negatively impacted the business districts of our community. The result is that people are sick and tired of what seems to be an endless exercise in frustration. The police don’t do enough, our community service officers don’t move people along quickly enough, we spend too much time addressing the needs of the street entrenched and nowhere near enough on the law abiding, contributing members of our community.
Here’s the thing, I along with my colleagues share that frustration, share that anger, struggle to determine how best to remedy the situation. I recognize that our police resources are strained. I know we need a stronger presence of control. I realize that it is a daily struggle for our business community to have to face this every day. So, what do we do about it? I have heard comments that Council has just replied to concerned voices by saying we’ve done everything that we can do. Nothing could be further from the truth, we are looking for new methods and answers on a daily basis. We work with the RCMP, Interior Health, Canadian Mental Health, BC Housing, both the provincial and federal governments in an effort to somehow manage this issue. We have and continue to show our frustration with regard to the snails pace response from those that are better equipped than us when dealing with this crucial issue. There are those that feel we should just round everybody up and move them elsewhere. Out of sight, out of mind. There are those who feel there should be mandatory rehab. There are those that believe we should have a constant intimidating presence that would dissuade these members of our community from engaging in their activity.
While there isn’t a definitive answer there is an ability to continually look at other options that just might help manage the issue. We need to become less reactive which is where we are now and more proactive in preventing this from becoming generational. We’re constantly playing catch-up. We need to be firmer with our levels of government that are more equipped and qualified to get lasting results. We need to take politics out of the equation and work on this as an entire community. All of us on the same page. As a Mayor, along with council, I would be in a position to continually press those that can make a difference. They would be held accountable. This happens now but we can’t let up. We need more outreach, we need complex care facilities, we need more members on our police force, we need to work together.