Social issues like homelessness, mental illness, and drug addiction continue to plague cities like Prince George, what does the situation look like in smaller areas?
Last June, the City of Terrace declared its downtown in crisis and recently sent a delegation to Victoria on how to address the crisis along with prolific offenders.
“What’s happening is people are going into businesses and stealing stuff. The RCMP is contacted, the person is then picked up, charged and then put back onto the street so it’s a circle that keeps going around and around.”
“It feels like it’s lawless and that there are no consequences for the actions. The RCMP gives the charges to the crown counsel, they look at this but Bill C-75, which was put out by the Supreme Court a few years ago, but for some reason, they just don’t seem to be charging people with these ongoing issues. That’s why we went down because of these prolific offenders.”
“There are maybe a dozen of them in Terrace that just keep going on and on. We gave a case example to Minister David Eby, which was pretty significant and he said when you have a case like that you have to tell us about it. We had a few asks that we gave because we just felt prolific offenders are wrecking our downtown – businesses are traumatized because they don’t know when people come in if they really have a gun when they say they have it and others are threatening people and nothing seems to happen,” said Carol LeClerc, Mayor of Terrace.
One of the several suggestions made by LeClerc and council was a Situation table where a person who is ready to receive help gets support from the agencies involved.
“All of the different agencies will come together and support that person but that person has to be ready to do that. We’ve asked crown counsel to be at the situation table so they can help be part of the problem instead of not being part of the solution.”
LeClerc is also lobbying for a new sobering centre for the region as well as additional RCMP officers with more experience.
“The Northern First Nations Alliance has been trying to get a detox and wellness centre here in the north. Our city council has supported them with that and we asked the three ministers that we saw to pay attention and support this recovery centre that the residents want.”
“Additionally, we have had RCMP members that have had just two years of experience training the new recruits coming out of the depot. We need more experienced people up here in the north. When you have places like Terrace or Prince George you are a hub community. You’re a hub for all of the outlying areas and your population is more than what it says according to Stats Canada.”
Last October, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions announced a new Sobering and Assessment Centre in Prince George.
The project is slated to begin in the next three years and is part of an initiative to create more treatment and recovery services across the province.
Additionally, the Carrier Sekani Family Services continue to work with the province, Canada and the First Nation Health Authority about fully developing the Tachik Lake Healing and Treatment Centre.
Furthermore, Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris echoed the same sentiments as LeClerc stating more needs to be done when it comes to prolific offenders.