Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Looking for answers for down town crime troubles

Prince Rupert's mean streets are once again the topic of concern of the business community as the owner of Loaded Sports took his thoughts to Prince Rupert City council on Monday.

The Northern View provided a comprehensive review of the concerns of Marc Page, a down town business owner who clearly was frustrated by the ongoing issues of vandalism and violence in the down town area. Page used the public commentary forum of council to express his thoughts on the issue

The Mayor in reply provided much of the same that we've heard in the past on the situation, advising that the city has requested another judge for the community, asked the RCMP to bring back it's down town bike patrols and is hopeful that the reborn Citizens on Patrol program may provide some solution to the problems of the down town core.

All of which most likely would be helpful if implemented, but considering the long running nature of the problems now many local business owners may be of the opinion that they've heard it all before and are looking for more concrete developments.

Other councillors weighed in with their thoughts on the cause of the troubles, though we're left with the impression that for the moment this topic is more of a debating club item, than something that will provide a clear plan from council as finding a solution to the problems outlined on Monday.

Retailer, city council discuss 'violence and vandalism' in downtown Prince Rupert 
By Shaun Thomas 
The Northern View 
Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Loaded Sports owner Marc Page made use of the public comment period during Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting to voice his concerns over violence and vandalism in Prince Rupert’s downtown core.

“To me it seems like it is only getting worse with what the kids can get away with because they know there are no repercussions, they won’t get a criminal record and they can be back out quickly. They may have to meet with a counselor, but they could miss that meeting with no consequences…In reality it’s no skin off their back,” he told council, alluding to windows being smashed at a number of businesses and adding that he knew the root of the problem was much deeper and complex in terms of poverty and possible substance abuse.

 “What can we, as a city, do to get these kids on the right path?”

 Mayor Jack Mussallem noted that the City has requested another judge for the community and asked the RCMP to re-implement bike patrols downtown and the Citizens on Patrol Program, which now has about 14 volunteers following two information sessions held earlier this year.

 “We’re doing what we can, but the unfortunate thing is that it never seems to happen quickly enough,” he said. 

Other council members said that while the City can take a leadership role in addressing the problem, it is going to take a concerted effort by everyone in town to seek out a solution.

 “We can all provide ideas, but at the end of the day we need to brainstorm as a community,” said councillor Anna Ashley, nothing that it was not just kids responsible for the vandalism and damage.

 “I think that there is a real divide in the community between those who have money and those who don’t and those who have social problems and those who don’t…If we can bridge some of that divide, we can work together to find a solution,” said councillor Joy Thorkelson, suggesting the City, downtown merchants and social service groups like the Friendship House could begin to meet around the matter.

Along with better promoting volunteerism to provide role models for local youth, another idea Page brought forward was to establish a 24-hour place young people can go if they don’t feel that they can be at home.

 “If they go home at three a.m. and their dad is drunk and going to be abusive, there should be somewhere they can go,” he said.

 Councillor Gina Garon added that she feels that expanding the drug and alcohol rehabilitation day program to youth was something that needed to happen “sooner than later, because that’s where it all starts”.  

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