Dawson Creek participates in province-wide “Enough is Enough” rally

The Dawson Creek event featured a barbecue, a poetry reading, and a call for change.

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Dawson Creek residents and members of Citizens Take Action gather for a rally geared toward public safety. (Energeticcity.ca)

DAWSON CREEK, B.C.— Residents of Dawson Creek gathered in the Northern Alberta Railway Park Thursday evening to join a province-wide rally in support of enhanced public safety.

Hosted by Citizens Take Action, the event in Dawson Creek was held as part of a larger provincial movement known as “Enough is Enough,” which aims to communicate frustration to the provincial and federal governments about the increased volume of repeat offenders and instances of property crime.

Other cities in B.C. that held rallies on Thursday include Kamloops, Penticton, and Nanaimo.

Attendees of the Dawson Creek rally told Energeticcity that they no longer feel safe walking around their city, with one attendee stating that she feels the need to “look over her shoulder constantly.”

Another attendee, Nyla LePine, said she attended the rally because she supports citizens standing up to make their voices heard, especially after personally experiencing a myriad of property crime offences.

“We’ve had a lot of theft. Even my daughter—her truck was broken into again yesterday in her yard. Our acreage was hit last May long weekend, and my truck was stolen from the Encana (Ovintiv) Events Center two Christmases ago,” LePine explained.

“I’m only like two miles out of town. I think the frustrating part is as we see anyone, if they’re caught, and the RCMP is able to charge them, it doesn’t matter because you see them the next day on the street,” LePine continued, echoing frustrations previously shared by South Peace MLA Mike Bernier.

During the event, Citizens Take Action member Doug Scott spoke to the crowd, reading a poem written by another member.

“Dawson Creek and many cities across B.C. are showing solidarity. We’re saying enough is enough. When your child comes to you and says, ‘Daddy, I’m scared to walk to school.’ Enough is enough. When businesses can’t get insurance for too many break-ins, enough is enough,” Scott said.

“Today, we are all part of a solution. We will stick together, and we will be heard. Enough is enough. Let’s continue to tell our politicians that this is unacceptable,” Scott continued. 

The group called for the provincial and federal governments to take further action to address repeat offending and ensure there are adequate mental health supports for those who may be struggling with problematic substance use.

Members of the group also stated they wanted the federal government to repeal the recent decriminalization of narcotics, voicing their belief that it enables those who may be experiencing problematic substance use.

Citizen’s Take Action member and former substance user Dwaine Dilworth shared his experience with substance abuse with the crowd, adding that he doesn’t believe the province’s current strategy is helping the situation.

Dwaine Dilworth (left) speaks to rally-goers in Dawson Creek (Spencer Hall, Energeticcity)

“Enabling does not help. For example, 19 years ago, I went to rehab. Six years ago, I went to visit my rehab. I wanted to see my counsellor and let them know I made it, only to find out they lost their government funding and had to make it a day program,” Dilworth said.

“It really, really bothers me that they will put funding away from a program that works and build safe injection sites.”

The Dawson Creek rally concluded with members and residents marching through the city.

While attendees at the Dawson Creek rally shared their thoughts and feelings about substance use and addiction, other rally organizers urged participants to stay focused on the main idea behind the rallies — public safety.

Enough is Enough – Public Safety in B.C. group member Collen Middleton told other members of the Facebook group that the point of the rallies was to hold elected officials and public servants accountable for how they use taxpayer funds.

“I want to reiterate again that this rally is FOR public safety. It is not AGAINST people addicted to drugs, nor is it against people who are unhoused. We must make sure that our frustration and resentment is directed where it belongs: at our Provincial and Federal Governments,” Middleton said in his post.

“In the last several years, what our money has accomplished is the worsening of three social crises: a housing and affordability crisis, a mental health and addiction crisis, and a judicial system crisis. The resulting Public Safety Emergency must be addressed immediately.”

Middleton finished his post by imploring rally-goers not to be swayed towards anger and vitriol towards their fellow citizens by “polarizing forces.”

“That would be giving our elected officials and public servants a pass to keep doing what they are doing and not change course,” Middleton concluded.

Health Canada granted the province an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which allows those over the age of 18 the ability to carry small amounts of opioids, “crack” and powder cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA without the risk of being arrested or being subject to criminal charges.

The province says decriminalization for personal use is a “critical step in B.C.’s fight against the toxic drug crisis,” stating that decriminalization would help to reduce barriers and stigma that prevent people from accessing life-saving supports and services.

“Substance use is a public health matter, not a criminal justice issue,” the province’s webpage on decriminalization reads.

According to the province, decriminalization is not associated with increased rates of substance use. 

“In Portugal, since decriminalization, rates of substance use and overdose deaths have remained below the European Union averages.”

B.C.’s exemption came into effect on January 1st, 2023 and will be in effect until January 31st, 2026.

In the latest installment of Energeticcity Investigates, Fort St. John detachment commander Anthony Hanson stated that a majority of property crime is committed by a small group of prolific offenders.

“When you’re stealing tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of industrial equipment, you need to be connected to people you can actually sell that back to and recoup profit from,” Hanson stated.

“At a lower level, some of these smash and grabs and whatnot—that’s a different story. It could be anyone. I’m not going to go in and start to profile. Of the crimes that have been committed in the last year in the downtown core, we’ve caught a variety of individuals of different backgrounds committing them.”

According to a September 2022 investigative report on repeat offending by Dr. Amanda Butler and Doug LePard, the term “prolific offender” was once used to refer to “a relatively small and stable group of people” committing “somewhat skillful and planned repeated property crimes.”

However, the report pointed out that in recent years, the term has evolved to include street-entrenched people who are often living with significant mental health issues or may be struggling with problematic substance use.

There is a difference between these two groups, with the “all and stable group of people” repeatedly being identified throughout the course of our investigation as the group primarily behind property crime offences in the Peace.

To read more about property crime in the Peace region, read our latest investigative story here.

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Energeticcity.ca is the voice of the Peace, bringing issues that matter to the forefront with independent journalism. Our job is to share the unique values of the Peace region with the rest of B.C. and make sure those in power hear us. From your kids’ lemonade stand to natural resource projects, we cover it–but we need your support.


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