More than a hundred Quesnel residents gathered outside the courthouse last night demanding changes to address the crime problem in the city.

Debbie McKelvie, one of the organizers, was also one of the speakers…

“Our court system is no longer a deterrent to crime as it continue to allow the cycle to continue at every level. The nuisance crimes, the ongoing thefts, the home invasions, organized crime, and on and on and on.”

The group “Quesnel in Action” plans to write more letters to the senior governments calling for more rural police officers and better prosecution results for crime in the city.

Evelyn Towgood, also one of the organizers, talked about a program for those who are constantly committing crimes…

“We can request that cities, Mayors, the province, BC Housing, Northern Health, and RCMP sit on a joint committee that has the sole purpose of keeping those individuals in our community that cause the most trouble in full wrap around services. A prolific offenders committee with the sole purpose of ensuring that those who are causing the most trouble are being watched, cared for, and made a priority by all of the people in that committee.”

The rally also heard from seniors advocate Brenda Gardiner, who said that seniors were now afraid to go downtown for the fear of getting robbed.

She also talked about how one man in a wheelchair did get robbed…

“He was recently followed home by a woman of the streets who got him to let her into the building. She then got into his apartment and said she had to use the washroom and there went his cell phone and his wallet full of money. He is now two months behind in his rent and facing eviction.”

Michelle Irwin, who is homeless, was also on the speakers list.

She wanted to get one particular message across to the crowd…

“I just basically came here to let the community know that not all street people are criminals. I just wanted to put the viewpoint of those of us that are living on the streets, that have addictions problems, I just really want to get it out there today that not all of us are bad.”

We asked Irwin if the services were available would she or some of her friends want to get clean…

“Yes we do talk about that when we’re downtown throughout the night, it’s actually come up quite a bit. A lot of our addiction programs, we are turned away if we smell like alcohol or if they think we’re high and there is that barrier, so honestly I would like to see a program where if someone had one or two drinks, they’re still going to be welcomed in the doors would be a start.”

Irwin says she has gone to treatment twice but unfortunately ended up back on the streets.