EDITORIAL: More bureaucracy is not the answer

Province's community safety bill seems more like window dressing

So-called problem houses can be found in virtually every municipality in urban Greater Victoria: unkempt properties with notorious reputations for drug dealing, stolen property, loud parties and dangerous characters.

When the B.C. Liberals introduced their Community Safety Act in the Legislature on Thursday to target this problem, it sounded like a good idea, at least on its face.

The legislation will establish an office where people from anywhere in the province can anonymously complain about a neighbouring property or resident.

The office will take steps to substantiate the claim, then force the property owner to clean up their act.

A lot of this is happening now at the civic level. People complain to their municipal hall and/or local police detachment about a property thought to be a drug house or a place where drug addicts try to sell stolen goods.

Police in Greater Victoria field most of these complaints – more than they can handle – but eventually many of these houses are targeted by street crime units and some are busted in raids.

Municipalities can revoke occupancy permits for houses used as grow-ops or those that are otherwise too run down for safe habitation.

Local governments can also seize houses, but the legal process is long and onerous and can often swing on whether the property owner has paid their property taxes.

It’s not clear that the unit created by the proposed Community Safety Act will fare any better. Unless it is particularly well staffed, it’s likely to be overwhelmed with complaints.

Residents can wait a long time for problem houses to get busted by police or shut down by municipal authorities.

It seems unlikely an outside agency could work any faster or have the manpower to investigate even a small fraction of legitimate cases.

Why spend taxpayers’ money on this instead of helping people on the ground? Municipal officials, bylaw officers and police detachments know the problem houses, know the individuals involved and are eager to make their neighbourhoods safe.

This “community safety” bill looks more like Liberal window dressing in advance of the May election than a program that will create a coherent policy to help B.C. communities.

Just Posted

Saanich Police looking for information relating to suspicious death

The body of a man was found on Crease Avenue just after 9 a.m. on Saturday

250th Free Little Library installed in Victoria

Greater Victoria now has the highest density of mapped little libraries in the country

Urbanists hope to see Victoria’s unused rooftops, parkades, parking lots become usable green space

Downtown Residents Association says city dwellers should have access to parks

For the love of fibre: fibre arts celebrated through demonstrations and market showcasing locally made items

Fibre arts celebrated through demonstrations and market showcasing locally made items

Cemetery tour explores Metchosin’s early history

A tour with grave consequences for those wishing to explore Metchosin’s history takes place Aug. 25

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

U16 B.C. fastpitch team named national champs

Girls went undefeated at national tournament in Calgary

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

Most Read