Who knows.....we may see the 'big quake' or tsunamis in our time, or not. Preperation is essential , regardless of what kind of disaster may or may not strike....but let's not freak out about it. The people on island who work in this area know the ins and outs, what they need, and I'm sure will continue to verse Council. Let's face it, they know what is of utmost importance and what to ask of Council, the Province and the Feds.. The best we can do is not to interfere with their expertise and to listen and help them when they come before Council.
Federal Government Office of Emergency Services
That we support each other is paramount, so paying attention to our N.E.R.P (Neighbourhood Emergency Resource Person) program is vital.
Should disaster strike, we are lucky to be on a place like Bowen Island where community comes together in so many ways. Unlike the city, we don't have to contend with high rises, and with so many wells still in operation we are far better assured of water supply. However, his doesn't negate having our emergency kits ready.
From big steps like the coordination of services to little ones like giving a new neighbour from off island the gift of a couple of candles and some matches, the first thing is to set yourself up so you can help others.
Public Safety and Quality of Life are a cornerstone of our existence. To this end we must assure that substance abuse issues are constantly addressed. I believe a 'zero tolerance' approach is best when facing the chemicals on the street today. 'Book 'em, Danno!' should be applied for dealing/pushing these substances to youth. Our court system is very lenient but there are ways a community can augment a light sentencing, like shunning or asking for peace bonds that would see that person off-island for a time. Every person has 'their story' and yes, Restorative Justice should be offered to dealers too. But once a person has put themselves in that situation, it's obvious that their 'story' needs more time to be addressed. Handing out R.J. time allotments that are the same as for users isn't enough.
Shunning is used effectively in various societies. There's no reason a person who's found guilty of dealing to youth should not have their name and picture published in our local paper.
Restorative Justice seems the best way to deal with users, and intervention and support are imperative.
Education and prevention for both adults and youth is paramount, as well as access to proper treatment facilities for those who have fallen prey. Judgement won't do much to help, we have so support those addressing their situation the best we know how.
We have many experts in the field of addiction and substance abuse on isle, plus there's the enforcement side...they all come from different disciplines so it's up to them to reach common ground.
One of the biggest new expenditures facing our Municipality is policing. In 2007 the Provincial Government requires all small communities to take over this cost (this is the latest report, though the Solicitor General's office has waffled on it and it may even come as soon as 2006....at any rate:)
How can we best assure we, the public, are protected while keeping expenditure down?
While the R.C.M.P. have maintained a detachment here for several years and many of these officers have been prime examples of good policing, I'm afraid some have not. A municipality needs control over who is policing. A fair cop with sound judgement and the ability to flex with the community and know and understand our community is the best we can strive for. In order to have that there must be continuity, which means extended stay. If an officer is not meeting our requirements, then....vamoose!
With the R.C.M.P.'s policy of shifting person el around, we are constantly faced with 'breaking in' new police. It takes a while to learn this community. A Municipal force will not only allow personell the opportunity for long term stay , but I believe the cost effectiveness will save us in the long run.
While we may have to look at buying the current detachment, a Municipal Officer would not require us to house them...just like any Municipal Police Force. Initial outlay for vehicles, equipment and such may prove costly but will even out over the while and save us in the end.
We may even explore the option that Hawaii has implemented, where their officers are given an allowance and they buy/lease their own vehicles and maintain them.
A Municipal Police Workforce will have less bureaucracy then the R.C.M.P. to deal with, leaving more time to concentrate on being apart of EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS , which is key to today's world.
I've just received an answer to my email enquiry about policing, from the Solicitor General's office:
Dear Ms. Merkley:
What is Desirable in a Police Workforce?
Officers who understand and can work with North Vancouver Crown Council that justice in the city is different from justice on our Island. Many issues get dealt with here by North Van from the perspective of, 'This is nothing compared to what happens in the City'. While that may be true, we have a different lifestyle here and wish to maintain QUALITY OF LIFE. If you have ever been victimized, your quality of life is surrendered unwillingly. You have been violated. Community living is why most of us are here....we should not have to sacrifice our choice of quality owing to the richness of community living, because the Court System in town has different standards.
We need Police who understand this and are willing to work with Crown this way. This is a matter that bares no compromise.
Because a Municipal Police Workforce being spared bureaucracy, it can also work with the public to create more in the he way of Block Watch plans, developing our own Drug Education Awareness programs and learning the balance of application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom with the Canadian Criminal Code and Municipal Principles.
Maybe we'll be able to recruit some of the shining example R.C.M.P. Officers we've had stationed here!
We have a great crew of volunteer firemen, there's no doubt about it. Not only do these men put out our fires, but they and their wives and girlfriends help fund raise with the annual Dock Dance. Not only does this allow for new equipment, but they distribute excess funds to community groups. The Firemen are exemplary of what this island offers. Our Chief, Brian Biddlecombe and his two assistants, Bob Clarke and Lauren Macdonald, are sound decision makers and task masters. We are very, very lucky.
There's been a lot of talk lately about four wheel drive roads being closed off. While this is fine from an environmental aspect, those roads are also corridors which may be used as access for bush or forest fire. We need those roads, in fact, we may need to create more. Public safety is of huge concern, as well as the envirornment....the devestation by a bush or forest fire is awful. But we also have to keep our eco system in tact. How best to balance?
By allowing a 'Bowen Exclusive' 4x4 club, we could trade access for maintenance. While access may be limited to only certain days during the year, I'm sure we could pull private land owners together, along with those who govern public lands to ensure corridors are open to registered club members for recreation/maintenance. Considering walking/hiking trails are so popular on Bowen, we may find our answer by having foot access open during the non-maintenance days.
As for new corridors, if the fire crew are on a call on Adams Rd. or in Bluewater and have to respond next to a call in Mt. Gardner....trucks have to drive back to the School junction then head out to Mt. Gardner. We may have to seriously consider creating a new road restricted to emergency service vehicles and hikers. This is my opinion, everything will hinge on what Chief Biddlecombe has to say.
It's time to have a look at ambulance service on Bowen. Our firemen respond faster more times than not to an ambulance call. How can ambulance response time be improved? Perhaps it's time to negotiate with the Province to have full time island crews who are paid salary instead of on a per-call basis. Current ambulance crews are mainly off islanders. Without good knowledge of our roads, nooks and crannies, and a good idea of where many of our people live, it's no wonder response time is lower.
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