On the eve of Valentine’s Day, while the rest of Hope was preparing for the day of love, the District of Hope found their time occupied by a series of important items in this week’s council meeting.
Starting with a 30-minute closed meeting, the public meeting that took place Monday evening (Feb. 13) updated council about the Hope RCMP, the Hope & District Arts Council’s sidewalk stencilling project, and the Trans Mountain Expansion Project’s (TMX) request for a noise exemption — as well as thanking and sending off Tom DeSorcy, the former fire chief.
Tom DeSorcy retirement
The District of Hope thanked Tom DeSorcy for his time as the Hope Fire Department’s first paid fire chief and presented him with a retirement gift — a wooden carving of an eagle. DeSorcy, who retired on Jan. 20, served as fire chief for 23 years. He is succeeded by the current Fire Chief Thomas Cameron.
“I will briefly say thank you, your worship, members of council. It has been a pleasure and an honour to serve the community that I was born in and grew up in,” DeSorcy said. “This community along with the people around this table, and the people who came before them, have helped build this town. And they will help continue to grow and build this town, and the fire department is growing well with it. And we (fire department) appreciate it.”
Hope RCMP update
Staff Sgt. Dwayne Farlin updated council with a year in review for 2022, for the Hope RCMP and their work in both Hope and Boston Bar. During his presentation, Farlin mentioned that he believes the community is under reporting property crimes.
“When I am speaking to community members, I’m encouraging them to report what they find to be trivial thefts from their property. I use the example of a gas can sitting beside your garage, and you wake up in the morning and its gone, and you don’t phone the police about it. So, it’s not captured in [our] numbers,” Staff Sgt. Farlin said. “We utilize these numbers to direct our resources. So, if we know that there are a lot of thefts occurring [for example] in Silver Creek between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., we will direct our resources to Silver Creek and ensure that they are not sitting out in Kawkawa Lake. I want to ensure that we are in the areas that we know where crime is happening.”
Other things of note was that for Hope and Boston Bar, calls for service was down by six per cent, around 28 curfew checks were conducted (eight members of the community are currently under curfew), 81 firearms were seized in 2022 (due to two large investigations) and police using “a certain level of force during arrests” was down by 75 per cent (with two occurrences in 2022). Crimes against persons are up 17 per cent overall while, “simple” controlled drugs and substances crimes are down by 59 per cent.
Public complaints received was up 44 per cent, and compliments received was down by 62 per cent.
“I take most of the responsibility there, [regarding the compliments], cause I do speak to the general public on a daily basis where, at times they are looking for answers with regards to their investigations. But they are also times where I do get calls from the public thanking us for a job well done and I hang up the phone, and that’s it, and I don’t report it. So, that is something I will need to do better at for sure.”
Goals for 2023, said Staff Sgt. Farlin, include increasing police presence in the community such as conducting traffic stops, foot patrols, visiting businesses downtown, and other areas of the community, and participating in events in the community. It also includes increasing community engagement which, he said, has been a challenge due to having more police members living outside of Hope. Staff Sgt. Farlin says he hopes to solve this by having members do community events while on duty “to ensure that those community engagement areas are addressed.”
Staff Sgt. Farlin also said police are being trained to properly handle impaired driving within the community.
The police will also continue to focus on areas of concern.
“A lot of these areas of concern become known to us because of community participation. We do notice a lot of things while we are in the community, however, the community is definitely a big part of our work here.”
Council unanimously voted yes to allowing the Hope & District Arts Council to paint a stencil pathway leading visitors to the Hope Arts Gallery.
“We’re trying to help people find the gallery,” said Janet Wort, who is part of the marketing committee for the Arts Council. “Our idea is to put some kind of a symbol on the sidewalk. And we’d like to start on the District Hall side, by the light. One symbol. Cross the street, go along Wallace Street, and there is a little lane way with footprints through there. And people do find us that way, there’s a sign on the front. And the other place we thought was to put one of the symbols on the crosswalk, on the side closest to the park.”
While they are still in the planning stages, one idea for the stencil pathway is to have the paint match the District colours.
Trans Mountain expansion project noise exemption
Council also unanimously voted in favour of exempting Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMX), and their contractors, from noise regulation timelines for their work on the portion of lands below the Flood Hope Road truck pull-out located at the top of Richmond Hill.
The exemption, which is only for the area mentioned, allows TMX to work from mid February to Sept. 30 between the hours of 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Council noted that one property would be affected by the exemption and asked if TMX had reached out to them.
“Our team is currently working with the affected landowner. And is working on mitigation measures,” said Leah Caldow, the community liaison for TMX. “During the night shift, it would predominantly be loading of the trucks and they would be leaving. They is obviously potential for light pollution, from the light plants and generators to power them. but other than that it would be loaders putting the materials into the trucks and the trucks leaving. And it’s important to note that the trucks will be leaving for Chilliwack and will be leaving on the highway, going the other way. So they won’t be going into town.”
During the meeting, TMX acknowledged that up to 20 trucks could be coming and leaving for Chilliwack per night.
The next council meeting will take place on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.