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Councils want B.C. to create more tools to address public safety concerns

Province urged to help cities combat public disorder with a Community Safety Act

A letter calling on the province to protect citizens in the face of “criminal activity and social disorder” by enacting a Community Safety Act is making the rounds of B.C. city council chambers.

The letter was written by Fort St. John Mayor Lilia Hansen on behalf of her council, sent to Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth and cc’ed to municipal councils around B.C.

“Over the last few years, Fort St. John and many other communities have experienced increases in criminal activity and social disorder,” says Hansen’s letter. “In part, this deterioration has related to drug addiction and mental illness. It has also related to the apparent inability of the justice system to hold anyone accountable in a meaningful way.”

“There is growing frustration at unchecked property crime and the experience of watching formerly safe neighbourhoods decay. It is demoralizing to watch the revolving door of arrests and releases and overdose deaths.”

The mayor of Fort St. John says the province had a Safer Communities Act on its books that contained a “suite of reasonable, and seemingly effective tools that would have been extraordinarily helpful and reassuring to our citizens.”

Unfortunately, the mayor said, that act was never brought into force. The mayor said municipal bylaws are no substitute for the “meaningful support of the provincial and federal government.”

“Our bylaws were enacted to provide solutions to manage conventional municipal problems like un-mowed grass, or loud music. These laws were never designed or intended to manage the impacts of organized crime destroying neighbourhoods with impunity,” Hansen says.

The mayor’s request to the Solicitor General to consider enacting a Community Safety Act found sympathetic ears across the province in Campbell River where its council voted unanimously to endorse it.

“Yeah, the last paragraph really struck me,” he said. “It said, ‘I implore you to consider whether the balance should live between the rights of our citizens to enjoy a peaceful existence and the rights of those who have destroyed the peace.’ And this is something I’ve always thought as well is, when things are out of balance, people get unhappy.

“And I’d say the public tone right now isn’t happy with how things are being handled.”

READ ALSO: B.C. police chiefs disappointed with public drug use court ruling

Alistair Taylor

About the Author: Alistair Taylor

I have been editor of the Campbell River Mirror since 1989. Our team takes great pride in serving our community.
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