FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Peace River North MLA Dan Davies says BC United’s newly-announced Safer B.C. plan aims to “turn things on its head” in terms of restoring public safety and “fix the problems” within the justice system.
Davies says over the last seven years, the NDP government has been “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results” with repeat offenders.
“Things are getting worse. It’s the small groups of people under the NDP’s catch-and-release,” said Davies.
“They do something [criminal activity], they come in, they might not even spend a day [confined], and then they’re out again. We need to be looking at that and fixing that.”
Davies says the rise in crime is connected to the provincial government’s lack of support for mental health, housing and addiction.
“Here in the northeast, we don’t have a detox, we don’t have recovery — we have a supervised injection site,” said Davies.
“We have an NDP government that’s brought in decriminalization of illicit drugs, and all that’s doing is keeping people in a cycle. We’re not helping people, and we need to change that.”
According to Davies, changes should include ensuring help and facilities are immediately available to everyone in B.C. who needs them.
“We’re going to make sure that you get the wraparound supports that you need in order to get healthy and to get well and become a contributing member of society. Those are the things that we’re planning on doing,” said Davies.
BC United leader Kevin Falcon announced his Safer B.C. plan on Tuesday and said a government led by the Official Opposition would “immediately pursue” a number of initiatives, which can be found here.
One of the initiatives included is to “treat all crimes seriously,” which pursues accountability for all crimes and expands community service as a required option for sentencing for minor offences.
Davies echoed the plan’s initiative by saying police need to be given the proper tools, and courts need to hold people accountable.
“There needs to be consequences. If there’s no consequences, there’s chaos,” said Davies.
“We need to make sure people are held accountable when they’re doing smash and grabs and when they’re assaulting people. Right now, it’s a free pass under this government.”
Davies expressed appreciation for the Fort St. John RCMP and says they’re “doing the best they can” under the current system.
“They’re probably just as frustrated as anybody else. When they arrest someone who’s committed all these crimes, and then see them back out the same afternoon,” said Davies.
“That’s not them doing that — that’s the justice system.”
Over the last year, community safety has been a common topic of discussion and concern throughout Fort St. John due to the perceived rise in crime. However, Inspector Hanson with the Fort St. John RCMP says crime rates are returning to the “historical norm” before the pandemic.
In July, the City of Fort St. John held a Let’s Talk Community Safety engagement session in order to survey residents and identify its next steps in improving safety throughout the community.
In the same month, a local woman began the recruitment process to establish a Citizens on Patrol group in Fort St. John.
Local RCMP announced the return of bike patrols as well.