Delegate Cindy Koszegi speaks to council at the July 24 council meeting to talk about dealing with problems on Hope’s streets (X. Y. Zeng photos)

Crowd attends meeting to discuss problems on Hope’s streets

Hope has to deal with public peeing, panhandling, harrassment, public drinking, public drug consumption and illegal fires, according to businesswoman Cindy Koszegi, who presented to council on July 24 as part of a delegation.

Koszegi would like them to form a community safety patrol which involves walking the streets and establishing a “uniformed presence.” Those members will be paid and will have skills in public safety matters, working daytime seven days a week.

“I really think that would make a difference because a visible presence on the streets is going to make them uncomfortable,” said Koszegi.

Her idea did not gain much traction with the five council members that attended, with councillors Heather Stewin and Dusty Smith absent. Instead, Mayor Wilfried Vicktor suggested forming a task force with various groups to form a solution after consultation with Coun. Gerry Dyble, who directs the Hope and Area Transition Society. The task force will involve police, business advocate groups, First Nations and social services.

Throughout the presentation, Koszegi repeatedly pushed her idea, suggesting to do a pilot project twice, and then evaluate it at the end. She pointed to an initiative in Chilliwack where security guards walk around with RCMP officers, “and apparently they are making quite a difference.”

The mayor asked chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky about his research on what other municipalities have done to combat this problem. Fortoloczky said creating a task force makes sense, which will receive support from District staff.

He will provide research for the task force on how to proceed, and they will determine their way forward.

The mayor then asked Hope RCMP detachment commander Staff Sgt. Karol Rehnder for his comments.

“Is it a community safety patrol that’s going to be one of the solutions? Don’t know,” said Rehdner, who said he has no data to confirm or deny a patrol’s efficacy. He said that chasing away people who cause problems on the streets to other towns does not work and suggested “a bigger approach.”

“They need help,” said Rehdner. “The core issue … is not panhandling. That’s a result. That’s no different than breaking into cars, no difference than break and enters. It’s the same results.”

Coun. Gerry Dyble added to this by saying that if Hope starts a community patrol, they need trauma-informed personnel who can understand the root cause of why someone is, for example, passed out in public.

Coun. Donna Kropp suggested that way forward is for everyone to take more responsibility and pride.

“We don’t have a ton of resources that … we can start putting patrols out every day,” said Kropp. “But we do have an opportunity to look at what you brought … and what staff can bring forward from other communities and the task force. I’m really in favour of that.”

Coun. Bob Erickson suggested that the RCMP could patrol the areas at times when the problem appears at its peak.

The public also chipped in. A woman said the problem comes from six or seven people who have lived in Hope for a long time and have received social services and housing. They have not changed despite the help, she said.

“We have to be realistic. There are individuals that under no circumstances will ever free themselves of their severe alcohol and drug addictions,” said the woman. “And that’s what’s happening with the people that we are providing the services to here now are thumbing their noses at the town and there has to be a firmer hand taken.”

Vicktor, Medlock and Dyble also criticized the Hope and District Chamber of Commerce’s initiative to put window stickers that instruct people not to panhandle or loiter.

Vicktor said it will have no effect on people who are panhandling or doing drugs.

“We all know we have a problem,” said Vicktor. “We don’t necessarily have to put it on every business.”

Medlock said it will leave a negative impression with tourists because of the “bright, big ‘NO.’ ”

“I don’t want to see these signs on the windows because the only people who are going to see these are the tourists,” said Medlock. “The panhandlers aren’t going to see this and care about this.”

Koszegi said she does not expect panhandlers to care and sees the stickers as an acknowledgement to the tourists and residents that Hope is aware of the problem and wants to act on it.

Dyble agreed with Medlock saying it highlights the problem to the public and that these stickers represent a reactive means of dealing with the problem, not a proactive one.

Both Medlock and Dyble also stood against having the District sponsor the stickers.

“When I saw that the District logo was on those, that concerned me,” said Dyble. “I don’t think that that’s something that I would be voting in favour of.”

Chamber secretary Sharlene Harrison-Hinds added that the 17 recipients she delivered the stickers to thanked the Chamber and District for recognizing the problem.

Just Posted

Hope mothers work together to improve access, connections for autistic children

Families with autistic children in rural areas have difficulty accessing resources, each other

UPDATE: Man with gunshot wound drives into ditch on Chilliwack River Road

Serious crimes investigators believe early morning shooting to be targeted

WATCH: Rally at MP’s office Friday in Chilliwack to stop KM pipeline

Water samples from Chilliwack rivers were delivered to MP Strahl’s office in a symbolic gesture

Editor’s view: A Hopeful start to the community’s first 10 km run

Good mix of pomp and circumstance, variable terrain and silliness at Sunday’s run

Lower Mainland could see spring flurries

Snow expected at higher elevations

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

Alberta tells B.C. to stop opposing pipelines if it doesn’t like gas prices

John Horgan said he would like to see the federal government step in to deal with high gas prices.

BREAKING: B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

B.C. officials failed to tell Kiwis Fraser Health CEO had been fired in 2014

New Zealand spending scandal exposes Dr. Nigel Murray 2014 exit from B.C. job

PHOTOS: Students exhibit stunning paper couture dresses

22 paper made gowns will be on display at Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre until March 27

BCHL Today: Prince George avoids elimination with game five win

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Suspect arrested and charged for assault on autistic man

Parmvir Chahil has strong B.C. ties; two others charged with accessory after the fact

Uber self-driving crash video calls safety, rules into question

Experts say footage shows that vehicle’s sensors should have spotted pedestrian, initiated braking

Installation complete for Alex Fraser Bridge cable collars

The collars will continue to be operated manually

Most Read