Port Hardy RCMP Staff Sergeant Gord Brownridge appeared before council to give his quarterly review of policing in the town.
And it was good news, with crime in the town significantly down in comparison with the same quarter last year.
The S/Sgt. broke the report into four categories, the strategic priorities of the local detachment.
On substance abuse and drug trafficking, Brownridge commended the efforts of one of his constables. “Rob Brennan has been doing a lot of good work with some of the people in the town. All I can say is I hope the trend continues.”
The detachment was recently contacted by B.C.’s Crime Reduction Coordinator regarding its progress on this front. The CRC requested the detachment share its strategies with other detachments facing similar issues.
Members continue to focus on traffic offences in the town, with accidents in parking lots highlighted in the report. Of nine reportable collisions last quarter, four occurred in parking lots. The local detachment recently submitted an article to the Gazette (October 10, Lots of care needed) on just that issue, warning motorists that attention was needed in parking lots.
The detachment continues to work to maintain a presence in First Nations communities, with a Letter of Expectation signed last quarter with the Quatsino Band.
On crime reduction, the detachment is looking at break and enters in the town.
Members worked to counter a trend in previous quarters which saw liquor-selling commercial businesses being targeted. Officers sent letters to each such establishment in the town, offering to visit and discuss security with owners.
While the detachment hopes these efforts will reverse that trend, last quarter saw a rise in residential burglaries. S/Sgt. Brownridge said there were “no obvious hotspots” in these attacks. He did note that opportunistic-type crimes — the theft of an unattended chainsaw from a porch, for example — still fell under ‘residential break and enter’ in RCMP files. He counselled securing expensive items and locking doors as a counter to this type of opportunism.
Overall, files were down from 1,146 to 985 compared with the same quarter last year.
“It’s real nice to see these drops in figures,” said Coun. Nikki Shaw. “Here’s hoping the next quarters are going to show the same figures,” added the mayor.
“We hope to continue on the same trend,” said Brownridge.
The Royal Canadian Legion’s George Kearey was on hand at last week’s council meeting, presenting Mayor Bev Parnham with the first poppy of the season.
Kearey also informed council of the member crisis the local branch is facing. “We need a lot of help,” he said. “We’re in dire straits, member-wise. We need about three or four executive members urgently.”
The mayor thanked Kearey for his presentation before he took his leave with a tongue-in-cheek, “I’ll say it again: this could be my last year.”
Legion branches across the country are busily preparing for Remembrance Day, Nov. 11, with events scheduled for local cenotaphs at the traditional 11:11 a.m.
Parl. Sec. meeting
The mayor recently discussed ferry rates with a Parliamentary Secretary, council heard.
“We talked about some of the concerns we have on the North Island around the huge increases in fares and how that affects our economies,” explained Mayor Parnham.
Local advocates for reduced fares argue that the ferry system in B.C. should be treated as an extension of the highway, with the province contributing more to run the system. Increasing fares and reducing sailings to meet shortfalls are seen by proponents of change as counterproductive; the higher prices and reduced flexibility serve to deter passengers, leading to more shortfalls and a pricing ‘death spiral’.
“Ferries need to be treated like any bridge or road,” said the mayor. “Our expectation is that we will not be treated any differently. We don’t insist Vancouver pay for highways.”
Mayor Parnham said further meetings were planned on the issue. “He did admit we had more than reached a tipping point on fares and that’s really having a detrimental impact on communities up and down the coast.”