Pemberton is witnessing a rising number of driving-related offences, according to police statistics presented to council last week.
The statistics, which chronicle a period between Oct. 1, 2007 and April 1, 2008, show that there have been more charges related to impaired driving than the same period one year before. It also shows a higher number of licence suspensions and injuries resulting from impaired driving.
The statistics were drawn from incidents throughout the Pemberton policing area, including Birken, D’Arcy and other areas. They were presented to Village of Pemberton council on May 6.
“We’re being more aggressive at trying to curb drinking and driving,” Cpl. Paul Vadik, an officer attached to the Pemberton RCMP detachment, said in an interview. “We’re doing more counterattack road checks which are netting more drivers, more suspensions.”
“Somewhere along the way… the message seems to be slipping out of people’s minds, don’t drink and drive, speed kills, wear your seatbelt.”
Vadik said the increased number of charges reflects stronger enforcement by the police.
“We’ve dedicated more resources to the Pemberton area by using Sea to Sky highway patrol,” he said. “The Lower Mainland traffic safety unit has come up to assist us as well in providing more resources for counterattack road checks.”
That theory is shared by Jordan Sturdy, Pemberton’s mayor, who said the RCMP has been asked to take action in response to a high number of deaths in motor vehicle accidents last year.
The statistics show that the Pemberton area witnessed nine motor vehicle accidents between 2006 and 2007 that resulted in 12 deaths. There are no fatal accidents in the most recent survey.
“We asked the RCMP to take some actions that ensured that those statistics didn’t carry on,” Sturdy said. “Those are people, those are events that affect many people and they affect them forever, so we asked them to really work hard to change those statistics.
“As a result of that they have spent much more time on the road looking to intercept these people that are going to cause injuries to themselves and others.”
The RCMP’s Pemberton detachment has eight officers in total — six constables, a sergeant and a corporal. Two constables are seconded to help out with First Nations reserves in the area.
Sturdy added that statistics change from year to year based on various factors, such as driving conditions.
“Some years we'll have no deaths, and other years it's just way over the top like it was last year,” he said. “It ultimately comes down to personal decisions of individuals who have to decide that this is not something that is worth doing.
“We also have to do what we can to try to provide alternatives to people, as in enhancing public transit… that provide alternatives to people.”
While the statistics showed a rising number of driving-related charges, there was also a rise in the number of incidents related to mischief under $5,000, an offence that includes vandalism.
There were 30 incidents of mischief under $5,000 in the latest statistics, while in the previous year there were 25.
When asked about vandalism, Cpl. Vadik said it is a central priority for the Pemberton RCMP.
“The mischief files that come in… we attribute most of that vandalism to liquor-fed behaviour,” Vadik said. “We’re talking people coming, walking home from the bar, from house parties, hooting and hollering and just seem to want to damage things in a drunken state.
“It’s a common occurrence in most communities that have liquor stores. Pemberton is no exception.”
The statistics also showed a downward trend for numerous offences, including motor vehicle theft, of which there were five instances between 2007 and 2008, compared with 13 in the previous year.
There were also fewer instances of breaking and entering — six were reported to have occurred between 2006 and 2007, while four are listed in the most recent survey.