Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lots of talk on the vandalism issue, but less in the way of action

"I have no doubt that we will deal with the broken window issue,"-- Mayor Herb Pond offering up the sentiment that the vandalism problems will be dealt with by city hall, though not providing much in the way of direction as to how they may do that.

The continuing debate over the rise in vandalism in the city, once again became part of the city council proceedings on Monday. Councillor Ken Cote, again raised his motion to the city take another look at the potential of a curfew for teenagers in the city. He had previously introduced the same motion on July 8th, and found much the same reaction then as he received on Monday.
It was a motion that did not receive a great upswell of support as councillors parsed the concept of a curfew and instead sought to find other ways to combat the spike in anti social behavior in the city.

At the moment the issue seems to be bogged down in a committee stage, with no set deadline for presentations or answers for the downtown merchants who are bearing the brunt of the vandalism spree.

The Daily News outlined the positions of a few of the city's councillors with a review of the debate in Wednesday's paper.

Council hopes to destroy late-night vandalism
But idea of curfew is shot down for second consecutive meeting

By George Baker
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Page Five

Smashed windows and the possibility of a curfew to curtail late-night vandals have not gone away as issues around the council table.

At Monday's city council meeting, Councillor Ken Cote again tabled a motion to look into the feasibility of a curfew for teenagers in Prince Rupert.

Cote repeated the motion he put forward at the last council meeting, on July 8.

He said he wanted the city to revisit the possibility of having a curfew that bans teenagers and pre-teens from accessing the downtown area after a certain time, though he made no mention of exactly what time that might be.

Cote also included in the motion the idea of having the city staff consider other options to tackle vandalism.

"I'm not suggesting we input a curfew. I just want to know if we can have one," said Cote.
"Let's put go to the next step and get the city staff and RCMP to discuss and meet with us so that we can move things forward."

Council members wanted to know when the city was going to hear back from the committee that is coming up with targeted ways to solve the vandalism issue downtown.

Cote's motion found little support worded as it was because councillors wanted curfew and other options separated from the motion. When Cote refused, the motion was defeated, though not without support for the spirit of its intent.

Mayor Herb Pond said that he appreciated and shared Cote's and the council's concerns about the rampant vandalism taking place downtown but he said that a curfew was not possible because it infringes on Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Councillor Tony Briglio was less cautious about his feelings.

"The word curfew leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I do not believe in curfews," said Briglio at the meeting.

Pond said that there was no exact time-frame for the committee to get back to council because it is an ongoing process. But he did add that he has asked RCMP Inspector Bob Kilbury, a committee member, to present some of the options possible in an upcoming council meeting.

"I don't want the public to think that we aren't doing anything," said Pond. "The issue is big and I take it extremely seriously, but the problem is complex."

Pond, a former retail shop owner himself, said that he was deeply disturbed by the way this anti-social behavior has painted his city.

"It's heartbreaking when you see a broken window. You know that not only is it going to cost the retailer money but that they sometimes have to get out of bed at four in the morning."

"I have no doubt that we will deal with the broken window issue," said Pond.

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