12 council candidates who say crime in Penticton is out of control - InfoNews

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12 council candidates who say crime in Penticton is out of control

Penticton municipal election candidates provided their thoughts on the state of crime in Penticton.
October 11, 2018 - 7:00 PM

PENTICTON - Public safety has been top of mind in Penticton all year and it has become one of the top issues in the municipal election campaign.

As part of our coverage of the election, iNFOnews.ca sent all the candidates a questionnaire covering a number of topics including crime.

We asked: Do you feel crime is out of control in Penticton or do you consider it typical for a city of its size and nature (tourism oriented). If you feel crime is out of control, what would you propose to do about it?

Here are excerpts from the responses of three mayoral and nine councillor candidates who agree crime is an issue in the city. Their full responses are at the bottom of the page.

Candidates who agree crime is out of control

Andrew Jakubeit (for mayor): We have significant problems with inappropriate behaviour in public places and addictions fueling many of our property crimes. Moving forward, we still need to have better cooperation from the RCMP, and to target prolific offenders.

James Blake (for mayor): Our crime level is out of control by any standard. We need to create a 'three strikes law' that will deem a three time offender as a 'menace to societ' and imprison them until they can truly become a valuable part of society again.

Jason Cox (for mayor): The first thing we need to do is understand that the issues of poverty, crime, mental health and addiction have considerable overlap but need different responses. We can help the police be more effective by lobbying the province to influence the judiciary toward meaningful sentences for repeat offenders rather than the current ‘catch and release.’

Katie Robinson
Katie Robinson
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

Katie Robinson: We definitely need to get much better control of the break and enters and theft in our community. Traditionally this is usually perpetrated by a few criminals working overtime and once they have been identified, it can and will be stopped.

Campbell Watt: I would like to explore the idea of adding to the city’s bylaw officers and investigate the merits of a Community Safety Officer. I also believe that finding housing with support staff and counselling will help get (people) off the street and hopefully into jobs where they won’t need to resort to crime to survive.

Marie Prior: Crime is largely out of control in all major towns and cities, but particularly here, having escalated severely over the last 10 to 12 years. I have proposed analyzing the relationship with the RCMP for alternative policing.

Daryl Clarke: For the past several councils they have chosen to ignore the problem and it has not gone away it has increased to what we have now. We need to lobby all the levels of government for better treatment programs to help get people healthy again we need to lobby the government to deal with chronic offenders who go through the revolving door of justice. We as citizens of Penticton need to be vigilant and report what we see to the RCMP so they can deal with problem people and areas.

Kevin Proteau: We need to affect change in our court systems because we have a catch and release program going on now. It's been suggested to me by many businesses and residents that maybe it's time to start thinking about forming a regional police force and ending our contract with the RCMP and Ottawa.

Frank Regehr: “I recognize that much of the crime reflects mental health issues, homelessness and addiction. I support the city working with other agencies to reduce the social problems that contribute to our crime rate.”

Max Picton: I agree that there’s been a substantial increase in crime and I believe that it is linked to the current opioid crisis faced by our region. Recently at UBCM, we lobbied Ministers of Parliament about working with the courts to hand out stiffer sentences and remove the intermittent sentencing (serving time on weekends) for prolific offenders.

Doug Maxwell: Crime is out of control here and all over the valley. Homelessness, drugs, mental health issues all play a part and a solution will only happen when all of the agencies, courts, police, governments decide to work together.

Glenn Clark: Based on per capita percentages I would suggest Penticton is the murder capital of B.C., if not Canada. Nobody talks about that. Now bylaw has chased the imported meth addicts out of the downtown area and I see them daily in our neighbourhood. That’s a tough question, until our laws get some teeth and puts the meth dealers and suppliers behind bars for a long time this problem will persist.

 

No, crime is not out of control:

Jukka Laurio (for mayor): Crime is not out of control in Penticton, unemployment is. Chronic high unemployment creates despondence, desperation and social problems. You can hire all the police and security you want. It will not change a thing until you deal with the underlying cause - high unemployment.

Jake Kimberley: No crime is not out of control in Penticton. I think city council needs to work with other cities in the valley to take our problem with crime and drugs to the higher level of government.

Julius Bloomfield
Julius Bloomfield
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

Julius Bloomfield: Penticton is experiencing the same crime issues as most other cities in Canada. The growing drug and homeless issues are only part of the problem, there is also a growing small scale organized crime spree I think it is time to consider closed circuit TV in the high crime areas such as the back alleys and parking lots.


Other ideas:

Dominic Wheeler (mayoral candidate): The City of Penticton has allowed an imbalance to develop between criminal action and response. Penticton is faced with economic disparity, lack of community support, and inconsistency in societal response and enforcement. By addressing these root causes of crime in our community, we will build a foundation that provides and maintains long-term safety and security.

John Vassilaki (mayoral candidate): My vision is for our community to be the absolute leader in the province with Community Policing Programs. We need to raise our investment in programs like Victim Services, Crime Prevention, Citizens on Patrol, and Community Speed Watch. Combine this with planned Bylaw support, a solid RCMP detachment, dedicated citizens and solid communications and we will shift from reactive to a proactive mode.

Connie Sahlmark: Crime is not an issue, rather an indicator. Penticton has several influencers besides tourism: proximity to the Oliver Penitentiary, out-of-balance core services, seasonal/low-paying employment, lack of safe affordable housing, and little in the way of amenities for youth. The city has already taken strategies to assist addiction and mental health by building supportive housing. While a good start, subsidized housing and creative solutions to the missing middle housing need undertaking.

These candidates did not respond:

John Archer
Duffy Baker
Karen Brownlee
Christopher Evison
Joe Frocklage
Isaac Gilbert
Lynn Kelsey
Jesse Martin
David O’Brien
Christopher Millin
Darryl Sanders
Judy Sentes

Full responses to the question: Do you feel crime is out of control in Penticton or do you consider it typical for a city of its size and nature (tourism oriented). If you feel crime is out of control, what would you propose to do about it?

Jukka Laurio: Crime is not out of control in Penticton, unemployment is.  High unemployment equals high petty crime rates.  Chronic high unemployment creates despondence, desperation and social problems.  You can hire all the police and security you want.  It will not change a thing until you deal with the underlying cause - high unemployment.

Andrew Jakubeit: We have significant problems with inappropriate behaviour in public places and addictions fueling many of our property crimes. People’s perception of safety has also increased; along with their frustrations and reduced their empathy. Mental health, addictions and homelessness are very visible and create many of the nuisance crimes and calls for service. 

This past year the city declared the “part is over” and targeted inappropriate behaviour in public areas. We increased by-law staff, shifted their hours into the evening, added security patrols, increased RCMP staffing and implemented lighting and environmental design changes. We had noticeable improvements; however it was more of managing the problem instead of solving it. Come early 2019 there will be housing in place for the homeless so that will be the first step to get many of them off the streets and a better chance to get the supports needed to change their lifestyle.

Moving forward we still need to have better cooperation from the RCMP, and to target prolific offenders.  We recently had several meetings with the province on RCMP, prolific offenders, and providing enhanced powers for by-law officers. This is also a similar theme and problem elsewhere in the province.  At our valley mayor’s meetings we share initiatives and challenges to capture best practises while also trying to coordinate a strategy to move forward on as a collective.

James Blake: We have the 16th highest crime rate in the Country. Toronto is in the 140’s. Our crime level is out of control by any standard. Our fantastic Police force has no problem catching the criminals the courts just seem to be letting the same criminals out, over and over again. We need to create a “three strikes” law that will deem a three-time offender as a “Menace to Society” and imprison them until they can truly become a valuable part of society again.

Dominic Wheeler: The City of Penticton has allowed an imbalance to develop between criminal action and response. Every city goes through growing pains but failing to act on the changing direction has had serious consequences.

Penticton is faced with economic disparity, lack of community support, and inconsistency in societal response and enforcement. By addressing these root causes of crime in our community, we will build a foundation that provides and maintains long-term safety and security.

Jason Cox: The problems of crime and social friction have had insufficient attention for too long. Property crime and open drug use is out of hand in Penticton. For three and a half years, the current mayor has downplayed these issues as our community rating on the Crime Severity Index has risen by 35 per cent and we have been identified as having one of the worst crime problems in Canada. In the past four months, as Penticton neared this election, there has suddenly been a much more proactive and strong voice on the issue from the city. I for one am skeptical of a government that only seems to have realized there is a problem as an election neared.

I have had extensive meetings with the Superintendent of the Penticton RCMP and sat at dozens of community agency tables looking at the social problems in our beautiful city. From this experience I can say that the first thing we need to do is understand that the issues of poverty, crime, mental health and addiction have considerable overlap but need different responses. Currently, we are often sending the RCMP to deal with issues related to homelessness and addiction. I will lobby the federal and provincial government for more adequate resources for those health and social concerns. If we have more dedicated and trained mental health and addiction workers as well as a spectrum of housing relief then the RCMP will have the opportunity to respond to issues of crime. In addition, the Mayor and council must set aggressive targets for crime reduction and have a strong relationship between the city and the RCMP so that we can achieve those targets and create a community where we all feel more safe thanks to an integrated response.

In many cases, the RCMP knows exactly who the individuals are who are engaging in most of the criminal activity in the city. We can help the police be more effective in stopping these individuals and groups by also lobbying the province to influence the judiciary toward meaningful sentences for repeat offenders rather than the current “catch and release”. I believe that I can be effective in lobbying on this issue because of my track record of twelve years of advocating for Penticton through my work with the Chamber of Commerce.

Crime prevention is also key. This means helping citizens with property security awareness and techniques, but just as importantly it means more recreation and mentorship opportunities for youth to be productive and build a life of opportunities that do not include drugs, alcohol and crime.

John Vassilaki: I think that it is easy to say an issue like Crime is only a perception based on the size of a community.  I personally do not appreciate that approach.  I think we should always be considering the safety of all of our residents, including those struggling with homelessness. 

My vision is for our community to be the absolute leader in the province with Community Policing Programs.  We need to raise our investment in programs like victim services, crime prevention, Citizens on Patrol, and Community Speed Watch.  Combine this with planned By-law support, a solid RCMP detachment, dedicated citizens and solid communications and we will shift from reactive to a proactive mode

Connie Sahlmark: Crime is not an issue, rather an indicator. Penticton has a several influencers besides tourism: proximity to the Oliver Penitentiary, out-of-balance core services, seasonal/low-paying employment, lack of safe affordable housing, and little in the way of amenities for youth. The city has already untaken strategies to assist addiction and mental health by building supportive housing. While a good start subsidized housing and creative solutions to the missing middle housing need undertaking. The pressure of financial struggle causes people to make decisions they would not under better circumstances. Alcohol/drugs are often used to alleviate stress and also boredom which brings us to the 4th question.

Campbell Watt: I  feel crime is on an unsettling rise and unfortunately there is no easy solution. I would like to explore the idea of adding to the city’s bylaw officers and investigate the merits of a Community Safety Officer, but this issue is not the direct fault of the RCMP or lack of bylaw. I think we need to understand that many of the concerns stem from mental health and addiction issues, so it would be more productive and effective if we could be sure we have the right treatment facilities and the trained professionals available to help our most vulnerable people. I also believe that finding housing with support staff and counselling will help get them off the street and hopefully into jobs where they won’t need to resort to the crime to survive.

Marie Prior: Crime is largely out of control in all major towns cities etc. but particularly here, having escalated severely over the last 10/12 yrs. I have proposed for a long time c.c.cameras be used in high problem areas, and analyze the relationship with the. RCMP for alternative policing as is being researched in other cities in B.C. 

Daryl Clarke: Yes crime is out of control. This unfortunately is not just a Penticton problem it is bigger than just our town it is a societal problem that affects many community's today. However that being said for the past several councils they have chosen to ignore the problem and it has not gone away it has increased to what we have now. This summer Penticton has started with new by-law officers more lighting and several other programs to help reduce crime and we need this to continue, this problem was not created overnight and will not disappear overnight. We need to lobby all the levels of government for better treatment programs to help get people healthy again we need to lobby the government to deal with chronic offenders who go through the revolving door of justice. We as citizens of Penticton need to vigilant and report what we see to the RCMP so they can deal with problem people and areas.

Kevin Proteau: Yes it is out of control. We need to affect change in our court systems because we have a catch and release program going on now. To keep pressure on our judges and prosecutors to offer some release to our local communities concerns  to the Provinces and Federal Governments where change can be effective. It's been suggested to me by many businesses and residents that maybe it's time to start thinking about forming a regional police force and ending our contract with the RCMP and Ottawa.

Frank Regehr: Statistically Penticton’s crime rate is high. I recognize that much of the crime reflects mental health issues, homelessness and addiction. In addition to adequate policing I support the city working with other agencies to reduce the social problems that contribute to our crime rate.

Max Picton: I agree that there’s been a substantial increase in crime and I believe that it is linked to the current opioid crisis faced by our region. A large number of the crimes in Penticton are attributed to a small number of prolific offenders. Recently at UBCM, we lobbied Ministers of Parliament about working with the courts to hand out stiffer sentences and remove the intermittent sentencing (serving time on weekends) for prolific offenders. The conversations went well and we are looking forward a positive outcome.

Julius Bloomfield: Penticton is experiencing the same crime issues as most other cities in Canada. The growing drug and homeless issues are only part of the problem, there is also a growing small scale organized crime spree. Dealing with the addiction and homeless issues will allow the police to deal with the crime. The cost of that policing is causing a lot of discussion. I think it is time to consider closed circuit TV in the high crime areas such as the back alleys and parking lots. This would be a highly cost-effective part of the solution.

Doug Maxwell: Crime is out of control here and all over the valley. My home in downtown Penticton has been broken into previously but by just arresting and releasing people this will not change. Homelessness, drugs, mental health issues all play a part and a solution will only happen when all of the agencies, courts, police, governments decide to work together.

Katie Robinson: We definitely need to get much better control of the break and enters and theft in our community. We need to work closely with the RCMP to immediately address this ongoing issue. We need more targeted effort to shut it down. Traditionally this is usually purportrated by a few criminals working overtime and once they have been identified, it can and will be stopped. This must be one of our top priorities for the incoming council to address.

Glenn Clark: Based on per capita percentages I would suggest Penticton is the murder capital of BC, if not Canada. Nobody talks about that. I’m a seasoned hockey player and have been afraid to walk downtown alone at night for over twenty years. Those are the local hooligans. Now by-law has chased the imported meth addicts out of the downtown area and I see them daily in our neighborhood. That’s a tough question, until our laws get some teeth and puts the meth dealers and suppliers behind bars for a long time this problem will persist. It's not just Penticton. Cities across the province need to band and lobby the Feds for help.

Jake Kimberley: No crime is not out of control in Penticton. We are no worse than any other community community’s throughout B.C. are all having the same problem. I think city council needs to work with other cities in the valley to take our problem with crime and drugs to the higher level of government. We can’t afford more police under the present contract with Ottawa.


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