Port Hardy RCMP Staff Sergeant Gord Brownridge appeared before the council last week to present the detachment’s quarterly crime figures, and was pleased to announce a drop in files.
“Going by the numbers, things look a lot better than last quarter,” he said.
The local detachment handled 887 files — a drop from 1146 — but the S/Sgt. was reluctant to read too deeply into the drop.
“I’d say weather had a lot to do with it,” he hazarded.
Brownridge broke the figures down further for the councillors, citing 187 prisoners held, and 22 school zone checks which netted three impaired drivers.
He also highlighted some progress towards getting a letter of expectation signed by local bands after meetings with local First Nations representatives.
The letter, he explained, was to set out what the community expects on a basic level, and routes to achieving these goals.
Local officers completed 87 probation checks in the period — more than double than the previous quarter — an achievement Brownridge explained was made possible by the lower number of files that the detachment was handling, freeing more members to perform the checks on prolific offenders.
“It all acts together,” he said
While there were drops in public intoxication, breach of peace, and theft from motor vehicle offences, residential break and enter offences rose from two to eleven files, although Brownridge noted that the low numbers made it difficult to attribute a trend.
Councillor Rick Marcotte enquired about the levels of impaired driving over the holidays, but Brownridge said that there was no great spike in numbers despite officers performing checks.
“We hope that’s because they weren’t out there as opposed to out there and we didn’t catch them. It’s something we have to keep pushing on.”
“It would be nice to see that trend continue,” said Mayor Bev Parnham.
Councillors were less than impressed with the province’s performance following the earthquake early on Jan. 5.
“It seems that the province hasn’t changed its attitude,” said Coun. John Tidbury.
The criticism stems from the province’s delay in issuing the tsunami warning following both recent earthquakes, its U.S. equivalent beating them to the punch by an hour each time.
“If you went by their warnings you’d be under water before you got word,” said Tidbury.
Mayor Parnham did praise the province’s response in dealing with disasters after the fact but agreed that the notification system was still too slow.
She said a decision had been made that day that “until we feel that the province can provide timely notifications, we will be changing our protocols and going by the first information received, which is very likely to be from the Americans.”
Mayor Parnham also stated that the district was looking into tsunami warning sirens.
Funding for rural colleges came up for discussion after North Island College’s President and CEO Jan Lindsay exchanged correspondence with the Mayor.
The letter outlines some of NIC’s recent successes in garnering federal funding and thanks the members of the council for their support of rural colleges.
“There is a trend towards centralization,” said the Mayor, meaning that educational facilities in urban centers receive the bulk of funding and equipment.
This in turn means a greater depth and breadth of courses can be offered, effectively siphoning students and resources from rural colleges, compounding the problem.
Patti Smedley explained North Islanders benefit indirectly, with an upswing in the number of courses available and local interest courses in particular, but do not see a direct monetary benefit.
The Mayor vowed to continue pushing for funding for rural colleges.
Councillors agreed to accept in principle a draft proposal for cenotaph repairs and improvements after members of the 101 (North Island) Squadron and the Royal Canadian Legion presented an outline to the Operational Services Committee.
The council agreed to commit staff time to research the costs of the proposed changes.