HomeNewsIsland & CoastSechelt Council launches pilot program to curb crime 

Sechelt Council launches pilot program to curb crime 

Sechelt council has voted unanimously to allocate $50,000 from the COVID Restart Reserve to fund a three-month pilot project aimed at reducing the amount of criminal activity in the community.  

According to a letter of request to council, the pilot project arises from safety concerns stemming from increased vandalism, discarded drug paraphernalia, and garbage along with unauthorized encampments in Sechelt. 

A committee was formed in May to address the increased activity and discussed the option of contracting a professional security company to patrol the downtown core during a three-month probation to determine if added measures need to be taken. 

The Sechelt Downtown Business Association already works closely with the local businesses to help improve safety, but Mayor John Henderson says he is hoping taking greater action will help alleviate some of the concerns.  

“Our initiative now is really just a small part of what I expect is going to be a more complex solution,” he says. “First and foremost, we must protect the people in our community, and by having some security patrols we hope to reduce some of the issues and be more responsible.” 

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The pilot program would have the security company provide daily reports to the Community Safety Select Committee over the next three months to measure the impact, effectiveness, and changes in behavior.  

According to the Government of Canada, criminal activity cases have grown by an excess of 1,200 since 2020 and with council forecasting more activity in the future Henderson says this is not a long-term solution but he is hoping this project will start to deter offenders from making bad choices.  

“It is a work in progress, that is why we are not rolling it out in a definitive plan,” he says. “It is meant to be a solution to what is a very complex issue.” 

Debate over using a private security company versus RCMP to head the project was debating bringing forward concerns about providing arrest powers for those caught in the criminal process, but Henderson says the point of the program is to gather data for future use and get feet on the ground now. 

“This is a way to get boots on the ground and get some data,” he says. “We are not looking for someone to make arrests at this stage. The security company is there to monitor, not intervene.” 

According to council most of the occurrences occur between the hours of 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. and include theft, vandalism, drug use, and fires.  

The Community Safety Select Team will increase their meetings with the security company on a regular basis to determine future needs for the project, but Henderson says they have not established if the pilot will go beyond the probation period.  

Sechelt RCMP have increased foot and bike patrols in the area and work the public works staff spending 50 per cent of their time cleaning up encampments and surrounding vandalism in the district. 

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