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Pemberton council receives 2016 RCMP report

Council briefs: 'Street Name Listing' presented; neighbourly spat leads to minor bylaw amendment

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While some may still be bemoaning the loss of the Pemberton Music Festival (PMF), there is at least one bright spot in the festival's demise — and it can be found on the local police blotter.

Total reports of assault, sexual assault, disturbances, and possession of cocaine and ecstasy (while none very high to begin with) will likely all be lower in 2017 than in previous years.

In presenting the RCMP's annual report to Pemberton council on Sept. 12, Cst. Mike Hamilton kept coming back to the recurring theme.

Pemberton police responded to 132 total violent crimes in 2016 (up from 103 in 2015 and the five-year average of 95), including 56 incidences of assault (30 per cent of which occurred at the PMF) and three sexual assaults (two at the PMF).

"About half of the total assaults in Pemberton occurred in the week of the festival," Hamilton said. "So you'll see a drastic decrease next year."

There were also 157 calls regarding disturbances in 2016 (30 per cent during the PMF), seven people busted with possessing cocaine (six during PMF) and nine with ecstasy (all during PMF).

But, of course, not all local crime stems from the festival.

Police also dealt with 21 incidences of domestic violence last year, down from 22 the year before but above the five-year average of 16.8.

"It's very difficult to deal with, very difficult to be proactive as far as domestic violence, but we have a good victim service agency that works with us here so that's one of the ways we're trying to combat that," Hamilton said.

There were 11 incidences of property crime (down from 125 in 2015 and the five-year average of 123), most of which involved thefts from vehicles (26, including six in one day on Vine Road), theft under $5,000 (21) and theft over $5,000 (31).

"What I've found out in my eight months in Pemberton is that when there is some type of property crime it's usually somebody from out of town," Hamilton said.

"So we don't have chronic property offenders living in Pemberton right now... I wouldn't say that property crime is a problem."

Traffic offences were about on par with 2015, as police handed out 49 impaired drug and alcohol infractions (47 in 2015), and responded to 38 accidents involving injuries (35 in 2015).

Overall police laid 136 charges in 2016 (138 in 2015), responded to 140 Priority 1 calls requiring prompt assistance (146 in 2015) and 1,857 calls for service (1,765 in 2015).

As for this year, police have been ramping up efforts around distracted driving (about 40 tickets given out compared to seven at this time last year), motor vehicle tickets for things like speeding in school zones (450 instances this year compared to 150 last year — a 280-per-cent increase) and reducing drug use (22 files this year compared to six over the same period in 2016).

"That doesn't mean there's more drugs, it just means we're proactively targeting drugs with road checks and intelligence," Hamilton said.

'STREET NAME LISTING' PRESENTED

Following the first three readings of a Street Naming and Civic Addresses bylaw in July, VOP council was advised the Pemberton and District Museum and Archive Society and Lil'wat Nation had been contacted to help put together a list of street names that would meet the criteria laid out in the bylaw.

The list was to compile potential names with a special emphasis on local pioneers and First Nations traditional history.

At its Sept. 12 meeting, council was presented with a list prepared by the Museum to be used when considering new street names going forward.

"The museum was very excited about this project," said manager of corporate and legislative services Sheena Fraser.

"It was a really great project for them they were really excited and pleased to be asked to do it."

The museum's focus was on recognizing early pioneers of the area who settled prior to 1914, and its list includes dozens of names of early pioneer men and women, prominent First Nations figures and even terms related to logging, the gold rush, the railway era and, yes, potatoes.

The list isn't set in stone or mandatory, but rather a guideline for future developers.

SOLVE YOUR NEIGHBOURLY SPATS YOURSELF, PLEASE

If you and your neighbour haven't been seeing eye to eye lately, don't expect to be able to sic the VOP bylaw department on them.

A slight amendment to the municipal bylaw enforcement process was passed at the Sept. 12 meeting, requiring a noise complaint to be issued by at least two people before it is considered.

"The reason that we are doing that is we have recently been drawn into a neighbour-to-neighbour dispute, and they're relying on us to resolve it and utilizing the noise bylaw," Fraser said.

"It's become a bit of a challenge for us to manage and monitor, and it's becoming a drain on staff resources, because we really determined this is just two people that don't get along."

The bylaw was also amended to allow the VOP to reserve the right to not respond to anonymous complaints, multiple complaints from the same person or those considered by the VOP to be for the purpose of simply causing trouble or annoyance to a neighbour.

Complaints will still be taken seriously, and the VOP will look at every situation, Fraser clarified, but "if we're starting to get into three or five or six, and it's in a short period of time, or we've just got someone coming in constantly bringing in customer service requests because 'I heard backup beeping noises again'... then it gets to the point where we feel... OK now this is being ridiculous."

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