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Security and safety program endorsed for Sechelt

The newly formed Community Safety Task Force makes its first report to District of Sechelt council and asks for a community hub program, among other things
N.Sechelt Briefs

The Community Safety Task Force has made its first presentation to Sechelt council after gathering information through four meetings and public feedback.

At the Jan. 25 meeting, councillor and committee member Brenda Rowe presented some background and the recommendations. She said the committee met with about 25 people including a member of Holywell’s building management, the Sechelt Downtown Business Association, local business owners and residents, as well as Community Services and the Sunshine Coast Community Action Team.

The recommendations the committee came forward with is “a bit of a launching point,” Rowe said, “not a one and done.”

Council agreed to a number of asks: 

  • Endorsing a security program in Sechelt that includes volunteer and professional security patrols
  • Asking staff and experts to prioritize more lighting and better security cameras in neighbourhoods with higher criminal activity 
  • Undertaking a community hub program to provide basic amenities and support for people in need. 
  • Identifying provincial and federal funding sources to fund community safety measures
  • Advocate for provincial and federal governments to address the lack of support services on the Coast
  • Ask the senior management of BC Housing and RainCity to meet council in person in Sechelt to discuss how to improve the services they provide
  • Staff draft bylaws to enhance community safety and provide effective enforcement tools
  • Establish a Community Safety Select Committee of seven members of the public, at least one council member and at least one district staff member.

“None of this can be done in a silo as the District of Sechelt. There are so many partners that need to be involved in this topic,” Rowe said.

A location has yet to be determined for the community hub program. Rowe described a project in Maple Ridge as the example, where they made a zoning amendment to support and incentivize recovery houses. That community hub is open several days a week with mobile showers, provided food and an intensive case management team. Currently, people have to leave the Coast for treatment. Rowe said there is a need for transition housing. In Maple Ridge, the three tiers of community safety include the RCMP, community safety officers connecting people to resources and a volunteer safety ambassador team. 

“This is all based on the theory that these are all members of our community and if we can build relationships with them, a high percentage of the issues actually take care of themselves. And this is fully recognizing that the homeless population is not the cause of increased criminal activity,” she said. 

“Everybody needs to be open to have this conversation,” Rowe continued. “The vulnerable community, if there's an opportunity for them to be less vulnerable, and it's something that the community can provide, that I think we should be.”

Mayor John Henderson, who is also a member of the task force, made a point of saying the task force is not trying to layer on, but fit in and find the gaps with existing services. Once the recommendations are approved, he said, “then the real work starts.”

Coun. Donna Bell said she likes the direction of several of the recommendations that provide a holistic view of community safety. She spoke in support of creative partnerships and collaboration. Coun. Darren Inkster commented on funding sources, while Coun. Dianne McLauchlan suggested broadening the scope of lighting to create safe walking routes at night. 

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