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

Friends, family remember Dan Sealey, stepson of Minister of Agriculture, in private gathering

Lana Popham confirmed Sealey died of an accidental drug overdose earlier this month at age 23

High school graduation rates on the rise in Greater Victoria

High school completion up from 71 to 86.8 per cent over 10 years

Mommy’s Inside Voice: A little piece of you

Mommy’s Inside Voice is a biweekly column by Amie Jay, a local mother of three

Pacific Centre Family Services Association a winning design in Colwood

Victoria Real Estate Board winner a welcoming sight

Victoria curling foursome looks to defend provincial title

2019 BC Junior Curling Championships held in Vernon from Dec. 27, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

Most Read