Highlights from district council Feb. 26.
Kudos to first responders on Coquihalla
Mayor and members of district council thanked all those who responded to a major crash on the Coquihalla Highway near Hope Sunday.
Mayor Wilfried Vicktor said he has had a lot of media attention, and will use this opportunity to speak about winter road safety. He said having proper tires, driving slower than the speed limit in winter conditions and generally paying attention while driving are all crucial.
“The bottom line is a lot of people drive too quickly on the Coquihalla,” he said.
“The Coquihalla Highway is not necessarily a bad highway, it just has to be properly navigated.”
Councillor Kropp said she was pleased to see the entire community pull together through the night Sunday.
Multiple agencies from neighbouring communities responded to the crash that sent 29 people to hospital and another 136 sent to a temporary warming centre set up at Hope Secondary School.
“Yesterday’s accident was crazy but we had great support from the region: from Popkum and Agassiz and people from Yale came down for the ESS (emergency social service) support at the high school warming centre,” councillor Scott Medlock said, who was at the accident in his role as a firefighter. “It was overwhelming at times, but it was well-handled.”
Crime stats show some improvements
The Hope RCMP saw a five per cent rise in calls for service, and while the crime statistics remain above the five-year average, overall crimes committed went down in 2017.
Hope’s top cop, Staff Sgt. Karol Rehdner, reported the year-end numbers for council, which included a 10 per cent decrease in violent crimes.
However, as 2016 was a particularly high year for violent crime, 2017 saw a decrease but was still higher than the five-year average.
There was a 20 per cent decrease in property crime in 2017, including break and enter, theft from vehicles and arson. One property crime which saw a dramatic increase was shoplifting, up by 53 per cent from 2016.
In addition to responding to “occurrences,” Hope RCMP also do random curfew checks for people who have been given a curfew restriction by the court system. In 2017, officers did 221 curfew checks.
Officers also do what they call “street checks,” approaching people who are out at times or in areas they don’t necessarily need to be at, to make the police presence known through one-on-one conversations.
“Get on the street and get in their faces,” was how Rehdner described the preventative work officers do. “We know where they live, so we go visit where they live. We know that some of them are on curfew or they have certain probation terms, so we enforce those.”
Councillor Kropp said it was “a little frightening” to see 110 firearms seized by Hope RCMP last year.
The firearms were tracked down as part of the Safer Cities initiative, Rehdner said, a program which tracks down firearms either unregistered or lacking certificates to possess firearms before laws changed over. The Hope RCMP team are down from around 200 weapons unaccounted for, to 11.
The Upper Fraser Valley regional also has a new Officer in Charge, Superintendent Bryon Massie. As a resident of Popkum and with nearly 20 years spent policing in Chilliwack, Massie said he knows the area well.
With stints in Agassiz and Boston Bar, Massie said he also knows small town life and not to mess with bingo night in Boston Bar.
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