Mayor Bob Simpson, also the Chair of the Public Safety and Policing committee, is reacting to the news that Quesnel was 3rd in Canada when it comes to the overall crime severity index and fifth when it come to the violent crime index.
Simpson says the problem with the way that Stats Canada does the crime statistics is that the statistics are measured against a municipal population of just over 10,000 people, and not the catchment population of roughly 25 thousand.
Having said that, Simpson says they are aware that Quesnel, like many communities, has a trendline that is not healthy and they are addressing the issue on multiple fronts…
“On the enforcement front we’ve added additional bylaw officers and I think a lot of people don’t understand the role bylaw plays. Bylaw are more eyes and ears on the ground, are more uniform personnel in and around our city. They can watch for things and report those things to the RCMP, and they can also help us through our building inspection function to deal with some of the root causes of some of this criminal behavior by going after nuisance properties that are potential drug properties.”
Simpson says they’ve also added two police officers.
On the social front, he says they are going after some of the root causes of the crime with their partners from Northern Health and BC Housing…
“We’ve spent the last two years trying to improve services for people with mental health and addiction issues that again turn to substances that are illicit and very expensive to feed their habit as a result of mental stress or trauma and create a lot of the property crime that we’ve got in the community. So we want to address those through better services in our community for mental health and addictions. We have a street Psychiatrist, a psychiatric nurse now, that works with our RCMP. We’ve worked with Canadian Mental Health to get a mental health clinician available in our community that we’ve never had before, and of course we’re working with BC Housing to give more supportive and affordable housing made available to individuals.”
Simpson admits that it is frustrating how the stats are being reported by Stats Canada…
“All communities are struggling with that and it undermines a lot of the work that we’re doing rebranding the community and making the kind of investments that we’re making in our community, so it’s at cross purposes with how we want to position our community.”
Simpson says they have argued for years, long before he became Mayor, about how Statistics Canada issues their crime stats, but he says they can’t make them change the way that they do things.
Despite the numbers, Simpson says anybody who lives in the community, or moves around in the community, knows that it is safe.
And he says the city and it’s partners will continue to try to make it even safer.