Building a Safe & Secure Grand Forks Meeting Notes

December 14, 2017 (6:00 – 8:00 p.m.) in the Dr. D. A. Perley Elementary School gymnasium

[Access at the approximate time (h:mm) indicators for more details]

City Initiatives (prior to community input ( prior to 0.55)

  • meetings and follow-up letters with government officials on homelessness, crime, addictions and mental health issues
  • bylaw enforcement: extension of contract to end of year; working with the Province to clean up camps along river frontage; Block Watch program initiated
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED ) study assessed high risk areas for criminal activity
  • meetings with RCMP and area directors to discuss issues
  • working on OCP and zoning bylaw changes to allow for more affordable housing options
  • support for BETHS shelter/hub initiative through BC Housing and exploratory talks for additional housing funded through them

Vigilantism (~ 0:55 – 0:59)

  • perception and context must play a role in overcoming this tendency, which is very risky
  • associated laws have been entrenched for many years, but could be altered

Block Watch (~ 0:59)

  • no online monitoring of activity

Drug Investigations (~ 1:00 – 1:03)

  • resource intensive
  • citizens need to phone in timely information
  • must disrupt behaviour of those running drug houses
  • confidentiality of sources is being threatened through the legal system

Mental Health (~ 1:04 – 1:06)

  • success rates vary due to being subjective and difficult to define

Auxilliary Police Program (~ 1:06 – 1:08)

  • changed about a year ago due to a fatality
  • now a three-tiered program that requires training
  • no active program in GF at the current time
  • no ride-along programs due to civil liabilities

Crime Watch Info (~ 1:08 – 1:10)

  • not released as often due to time constraints
  • can still occur on an as-needs basis
  • quarterly reports go to council for in-house analysis

Needle Exchange (~ 1:10 – 1:11)

  • litter can be minimized by promoting the available drop boxes

RCMP Vacancies (~ 1:11 – 1:13)

  • provincial numbers vary from 10 to 15%
  • government meetings are occurring on a face-to-face basis
  • 141 officers have been requested for BC, especially for the rural areas

Stolen Property (~ 1:13 – 1:16)

  • items traced back to their rightful owners are returned, otherwise they are trashed
  • exception is that unclaimed bicycles are donated to the high school for further distribution
  • majority of items stolen in GF are power tools, chain saws, hand tools, and bicycles
  • items should be secured and marked by a unique ID
  • a new bylaw is in the works for stemming the tide of stolen items flowing through pawn shops
  • a picture ID bylaw will better identify those selling items to pawn shops (~ 1:31 – 1:33)
  • “intent” of pawn shop owner is hard to prove regarding stolen property (~ 1:48 – 1:50)

Detox-Rehab Process (~ 1:16 – 1:17)

  • delays are based upon availability of beds AND the person’s choice of program, which is voluntary

Restorative Justice (~ 1:17 – 1:21)

  • changing for the better in the next couple of years
  • youth crime is low
  • property crime offenders must want to attend the Detox-Rehab process
  • ongoing revolving door between Detox and Rehab if people aren’t willing to change
  • there are 6 to 10 local individuals who need to be rehabilitated or removed (see also Sgt. Fenske’s opening remarks from ~ 0:44 – 0:52)

24-7 Shelter (~ 1:22 – 1:24)

  • those seeking the shelter and soup kitchen are not all criminals
  • go down there to see who we are feeding
  • criminals are hard to separate out
  • reduction in crime (for example in Medicine Hat, AB) occurs when housing is provided
  • such resources do not attract outside people to a community

NIMBY re BETHS (~ 1:24 – 1:30, ~ 1:33 – 1:39)

  • mental health issues do not necessarily connect with drug addiction and homelessness
  • why not move our shelter outside the city limits?
  • location is always a problem, but proximity is required for assistance when needed
  • offenders can be either self-policed or held accountable, which is the case at BETHS where people are registered
  • decision-makers (i.e. City Council) are open to suggestions as long as safety is a priority
  • open houses and council meetings are opportunities whereby citizens can be heard, but yes, it is a polarizing issue
  • 7 to 12 people per night stay at BETHS

Security Systems (~ 1:40 – 1:47)

  • need to care for your neighbours by watching their properties and trading phone numbers
  • take videos of personal items
  • Block Watch incorporates the above and provides training and tips
  • installation of HD security cameras (for about $400) is very helpful and can lead to a drop in insurance costs

Whispers of Hope (~ 1:51 – 2:01)

  • why is WoH being shut down if it’s serving 65 meals per day?
  • they were given six months’ notice to relocate
  • $50,000 of structural repairs are required on the existing building, so it needs to be demolished
  • could lead to a safety & security risk if closed in February
  • WoH has its own internal guidelines, but the RCMP can apply “no-contact” orders
  • homelessness is not synonymous with drug use and crime
  • community is safer when people who are in need are helped
  • relocation is not an easy process – is there a safety net in place when the lease is up?
  • why not extend the deadline for closure through to the better weather?
  • how is WoH exercising accountability?