Community Meeting held for residents

Approximately 100 residents met on October 19 to have their concerns addressed by Corporal Peats of the Tumbler Ridge RCMP detachment.

Peats highlighted the need for more officers for the detachment in his Power Point presentation. Criminal and provincial statistics indicate the need for more officers, as does the population growth here, which has increased to 4500-4800 residents from the 2400 residents living in Tumbler Ridge in 2004. These figures are an estimate, and the official Census will be released on March 19, 2007.

Criminal statistics are up this year with Cause a Disturbance the highest from 43 files in 2005 to 69 files in 2006. Provincial statistics were also up this year as well with Traffic Tickets being the highest from 112 files in 2004 to a whopping 600 files in 2006. The detachment received 200 calls for service in August, the highest to date.

As of October 18th five RCMP officers in the detachment have handled 1541 calls for service. The Massett RCMP detachment has responded to 1939 calls for service with 10 officers in that detachment during the same time frame.

Corporal Peats encouraged the community to attend the Halloween bonfire that on October 31st in the ShopEasy parking lot. Free hot dogs, pop, and Glow sticks will be offered again this year.

Mention was also made of the DARE (Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education) program that will begin in January 2007. The detachment has already dealt with a case of Crystal Meth in town.

The program educates youth about Crystal Meth and other substance abuse. Corporal Peats advised citizens that they can view the physical consequences of CrystalMeth by visiting on the web.

Corporal Peats also made mention of Federal strategies that are in legislation and or already underway.

Some of these include:

a) Crime Reduction Strategies- where prolific offenders will be dealt with within a month through court and they will go to jail right away as opposed to months through our present lengthy court systems.

b) No more community sentences for serious crimes.

c) Murder charges were not approved-BC is the only province in Canada where the Crown has to approve a charge. Now, the police will be able to lay charges and the crown will prosecute right away.

d) Community Constables- will free up more time for RCMP members to dedicate to criminal matters.

e) Back-Up policy: Two officers will attend any licensed establishment, a call-out to a home where there is a history of violence, or a call to an area that does not have radio communication.

f) The 2010 Winter Olympics- Where 5400 police officers will be required with 3100 support staff. There will be 73 countries attending. There will be 90, 000 criminal record checks with a staff of 250 people just doing the criminal record checks alone.

Corporal Peats mentioned the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) conference that Mayor Mike Caisley will be attending next week. In 2007, all communities under 5000 population will have to pay for the cost of policing. Mayor Caisley will be given notice of the percentage that residents will have to pay at the UBCM conference. The budget given to the Tumbler Ridge RCMP from the Federal government for this District was set at $57, 600 and runs from April 1st, 2006 until March 31st 2007. As of September the 1st, 2006, $51, 252 was spent leaving $6, 348 for the next six months in the budget for policing.

Corporal Peats invited residents to voice some of their concerns so the detachment would know what to focus on in the future. The majority of the concerns were about people who are driving quads or ATV vehicles in undesignated areas. Peats stressed the importance of getting the drivers? identity in order for the police to be able to respond. a law will be in effect soon which will require ATV?s to have a license plate. A resident asked if stricter charges should be given to youth driving these vehicles in efforts to set an example for other youth of the community. Corporal Peats responded that each situation will be handled on a case by case basis.

Speed zones were another concern of the community. Corporal Peats clarified that the Tumbler Ridge Elementary (TRE) school zones speed limits are in effect Monday to Friday from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm.

The community also voiced their concerns about the town?s bylaw officer. Corporal Peats was asked if there is a bylaw officer in town and if they respond to calls or if they actually patrol the town. Corporal Peats informed residents that there is a bylaw officer in town and with the growing pressure of the community, he is swamped. The response of the bylaw officer is mainly on a ?call-in? basis. The issue of hiring another bylaw officer is being addressed by the District.

Also of concern were the number of commercial rigs or trucks driving in residential areas. This issue is the responsibility of the municipality, and falls under the bylaw jurisdiction.

Corporal Peats stated that the number one concern in order of precedence are:

1) Criminal offences.

2) Provincial Stats, and

3) Bylaws.

After all questions were voiced and answered, Corporal Peats ended the evening by thanking all citizens present for attending the meeting.