The change is drastic and we have to do something.
That was one of the main messages from a rally outside of Quesnel City Hall on Tuesday in which citizens gathered to show they are concerned with the increase in crime.
“People don’t want to do a river walk anymore because there are needles everywhere and dogs are stepping on them,” said one resident.
“So we as citizens, we’re the ones that are suffering for this and we need to turn the tables because before it was criminals who were scared and now they’re doing this in broad daylight.”
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson who was in attendance said they have had quite a few discussions over the last two and a half years about the limitations they have as a local government to address some of the root causes.
He said while we as taxpayers pay for 70 percent of our detachment we do not control how those positions get filled and how those positions get deployed except on the margins as the RCMP is a federal agency.
“At the end of the day we’ve been working in isolation as a Council,” Simpson said.
“Yelling at each other on Facebook doesn’t constitute public engagement. What you’re doing today constitutes public engagement; showing up, writing letters, writing petitions, giving Council the ammunition we need for a message that we’ve been giving the province over the last four years, and our message hasn’t been very well received.”
Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes took the opportunity to thank the organizers and everyone who showed up.
“I’ve sent letters 13 letters to Minister Farnworth about the resources that we need in our community and the concerns that I’ve heard from community members not just feeling fear and concerns in our community, but the cost that it has taken on the residents and businesses in our community,” Oakes said.
“Taxpayers that invest and make sure our community is as strong as it possibly can and when you are faced week after week in trying to take steps to keep your business or your residence safe and you still do not feel that sense of safe we’ve got to take some action, so there are lot of things that we need to do but the first step is we’ve got to stand together.”
Evelyn Towgood of Regency Chrysler who has been working over the last month on increasing the number of police officers said she will be sending a binder full of letters to the City, Victoria, and Ottawa on Wednesday and encouraged residents to keep them coming.
“You may have heard of the online facebook block watches that have popped up in the area. I started mine two and a half years ago, and I had some friends that started up other ones because we realized we needed to watch out for each other,” Fritz Wyssen said.
“A lot of people are saying that Quesnel has changed but I’m looking at all these faces out there and you have not changed. We are still the core of this community; we have been infiltrated by disease and we must cut it out. We had a purse that was lost here and without hesitation, it was turned in. We don’t hesitate to be good people, neighbors, and we support each other and we will talk with each other, but we have to get past just talking with each other or talking online.”
Facilitator Debra McKelvie said she believes the next step they need to take is rallying down at the courthouse and maybe getting our justice system back on track that drew applause from the crowd.
“I think we had a very positive turnout and the weather didn’t cooperate with us but that didn’t seem to stop people from coming out,” she told MyCaribooNow.
“I was really surprised to see as many business people come out as we had, so that was really positive.”
After the rally at least 28 people pledged to be a part of Citizens on Patrol that McKelvie said needs to be reinstated after having been abandoned after 17 years.
(Editor’s Note: The video below shows part of Tuesday’s rally that started at 4 pm and wrapped up shortly after 5 pm. In it are Mayor Bob Simpson, Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes, and Evelyn Towgood.)