The head of the local RCMP detachment says officers will continue to monitor the homelessness situation in the area, but also suggested that the issue is not necessarily local.
“Of interest, in 2019, there were 540 contacts with persons that were of no fixed address, and of those contacts, 232 were different individuals,” said Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP during his most recent appearance before North Saanich council. “Many of those individuals are not from our community, but have come [into it] and have temporarily been here.”
Conley added that his detachment has been working closely with Terri Dorey from the ministry of social development and poverty reduction.
“She is in the community every Friday, and our officers are making referrals to her for people, who may want to have her assistance for applying for social assistance, housing, and for other things she can help,” he said.
Conley also said during his presentation that local officers have been serving in the area, where a group of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been opposing a natural gas pipeline. Their protest sparked a number of solidarity protests across Canada including Greater Victoria. The two sides Sunday reached an agreement hailed an “important milestone” yet details about its actual nature remain sparse.
Federal Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and British Columbia Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser would not give details on the proposal Sunday, saying it first has to be reviewed by the Wet’suwet’en people.
Conley had said earlier that three officers have served for up to 10 days in the Houston area, one just having returned recently.“We will probably continue to get some requests for that, and I manage that at the detachment level as to what resources we are able to release for a week at the time as they go up there to help with that gas-line dispute issue that is continuing up there,” said Conley of the Sidney/North Saanich RCMP during his most recent appearance before North Saanich council.
He also discussed events on Jan. 20, when local protesters in support of hereditary chiefs temporarily blocked access to the BC Ferries terminal in Swartz Bay. Conley told the public that BC Ferries has recently obtained an injunction that authorizes the arrest of any individuals, who interrupt public access to the terminal.
Conley later said that the detachment will focus on community policing, property crime reduction, and traffic safety. He specifically singled out the preventable nature of thefts from vehicles.
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