Council Notes

Trent Ernst, Editor 
January 22 Present: Mayor Wren, Councillors Mackay, Hewitt, Torraville, Caisley. Staff: Barry Elliott, Angie Collison, Candie Laporte, Doug Beale
Policies and Priorities
Councillor Mackay chair
As requested by Council at the Regular Meeting January 8, 2013, Sgt. Kurt Render appears before council to provide a quarterly RCMP report. As this is the first report of the year, it covers stats for 2012. 
As of December 31, says Render, the Tumbler Ridge RCMP reported 1192 files for this year. That’s up from 1136 last year, but over the past four years, the case load has hovered between 1100 and 1200 cases, so no great increase. 
Of those, 110 were Persons Offences, 177 were Property Offences, 74 were Public Disorder, 15 were Drug related, 76 were traffic related and 80 were enforcements of Provincial Statutes, including 19 Liquor Control and Licencing Act offenses. By far the largest category of offenses was Municipal bylaw and traffic enforcement, of which there were 617 cases. 
The most interesting statistic was the fact that of those 1192 cases, only 15 prisoners were held in 2012. That, says Render, is mostly due to the unavailability of guards. “We do have qualified guards, but they weren’t available. In an industry town like this it is hard to find people able to do this,” he says. In November, the department got a new truck. 
Two members, Constables Wedholm and Hawkes, transferred this year, Wedholm to Nanaimo and Hawkes to Tahsis. To replace these two outgoing members, the department welcomed Constables Bos and Fortier. 
There are five government owned homes which are rented by the members, and have been kept in good shape over the year, with no major repairs. The detachment building saw significant renovations to accommodate a Closed Circuit Video system, as per provincial regulations, but the video equipment has not yet arrived. 
The focus of the department is on Alcohol and Drug abuse, youth issues, property damage, safe roads and highways and ATV and snowmobile use. These have been determined in consultation with District Council and Staff, the interagency group and public input. 
The detachment has been working with the North District Regional General Investigation Section on suspected organized crimes, which has mostly been drug related. 
Constable Bos has initiated D.A.R.E classes at Tumbler Ridge Elementary. 
Mayor Wren asks if the department’s ATVs and snowmobiles are used to patrol the trails. Render says occasionally, but because the snowmobiles are unmarked, it’s tough. It is possible. Willing to sit down and discuss. The flip side is that when the public sees RCMP officers using these trails, it can have a negative impact on enforcement—what do you mean we can’t do it? We saw you do it. “We want to go about making a difference but a targeted approach to making those differences.” Councillor Torraville asks about speeding in residential areas and the lack of patrols in these areas. Render says that without actual factual evidence, it’s tough to speak to, but it may be a perception issue. “If this is happening, they need to report it to us. During the day we focus our effort on the school zone. We do get some complaints, but we go through every neighbourhood a couple of times every day.”
Councillor Mackay asks if there has been any major change in categories of crimes. Render says there was some, but not statistically significant. 
Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark
Dr. Charles Helm, to provide Council with an update on the Expression of Interest for the Tumbler Ridge Geopark (see cover story this issue for more details). He says a 79 page draft expression of interest has been prepared. “We have come a long way since October, the last time I was here’re before council We have sent this out to at least 300 people for feedback.” Helm says the document has been vetted approved by the scientists, and they are getting good constructive feedback. “We want to get it off to the national committee in March,” says Helm. “We’re really hoping to be the second Geopark in North America.” 
Helm says they are seeking letters of support from the Premier, the Member of Parliament, The Royal BC Museum and other parties. He says they are hoping for ten or so letters.
More information on the proposal will be available to the people of Tumbler Ridge in the form of an Itchy Feet presentation next month. Helm says the committee is also planning a symposium in summer, which would involve three days of presentation, plus field trips. “Our next plan is to start working on a coffee table book on it,” says Helm. He says that the next big group of tourists will be from China. “With our connections with China, we are anticipating a ripple effect. This really speaks to sustainability.”