Tuesday, July 12, 2016

July 11, 2016 Council Meeting Notes: Part 1 of 3. Property crime up, creating an accessible province

Last night was a fairly packed Council Meeting as we had a series of quarterly updates from the RCMP and various municipal departments. Today’s post will cover the first third of the meeting, tomorrow’s post will cover the majority of the departmental reports, and Thursday’s post will cover the remainder of the meeting including bylaws that were voted on.

At the top of the meeting, an opportunity for public input was provided for people to comment on Bylaw 2993. This bylaw increases the budget of the 203rd Street project to cover additional items such as a seismic upgrade to the Nicomekl Bridge, LED street lights, and enhanced pedestrian safety features. There was no public input provided. Later in the meeting, Council gave final reading to this bylaw which passed.

Next, council heard a presentation from Reed Poynter from Barrier Free BC. This organization is advocating for a provincial British Columbians with Disabilities Act. According to Poynter, there are over 600,000 British Columbians with disabilities, but there is currently no comprehensive legislation to ensure that people will disabilities are able to fully participate in society.

For example, Poynter is blind. He noted that there is a lack of available drug information in a format he can use. He also noted the challenge he has with electronic payment machines. The information is only presented for people who are not visually impaired. As someone with limited vision, you have to trust that you aren’t getting ripped off. He said that if they can make GPS units talk, surely they can make talking payment machines.

The legislation that Barrier Free BC is advocating for would require that things such as debit machine be accessible for everyone. It would also ensure that businesses provide equal access to everyone, and that our built-form can accommodate most people.

The federal government is currently working on a Canadians with Disabilities Act, but this would only cover things that are within federal jurisdiction. This is why provincial acts are also needed. Barrier Free BC is hoping that local governments pass motions in support of a British Columbians with Disabilities Act.

I know that this is something that I support, as do others on council. At the upcoming UBCM convention, resolutions are put forward on behalf of all local governments in the province. City staff will be checking to see if there is a British Columbians with Disabilities Act support resolution.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a motion to support a British Columbians with Disabilities Act is put forward at a future council meeting as well.

Council heard from Emmy Skates who is the new Executive Director on the Salvation Army’s Gateway of Hope. She provided a brief bio of herself, and noted that she lives in Langley.

After these presentations, we received the second quarter report from Superintendent Murray Power, Officer in Charge of the Langley detachment of the RCMP.

Power noted that property crime was up 28% percent over the same period last year. Theft from auto was were the largest increase occurred. Power said that they did a good job of cleaning up the streets. This caused a vacuum which has since been filled with a new collection of criminals. He said that the RCMP is working on identifying these people to get them off the streets. The property crime wave stretches along the whole 200th Street corridor from Highway 1 to Langley City.

Power stated that Langley is experiencing an upward trend in property crime while it is going down in the rest of the region. He noted that this is the reverse of the last few years where property crime was going down in Langley while it was going up in the rest of the region.

On a more positive note, crimes against people such as assaults as well as robberies are below the five-year average.

Power also presented stats about our road network. There have been no fatal collisions this year on roads in Langley City. He attributed this to the design of our road network in the City which encourages slower speeds.

I asked Power what we need to be thinking about to reduce the opportunities to commit crime in Langley City. He noted that people need to make sure they aren’t keeping thing in the open in their vehicles. He also noted that we need to have a community dialogue about the root causes of crime, and what can be done to address those root causes. I asked if this could be led by the RCMP. He stated that while the RCMP would like to be partners in the process, it would need to be led by someone else.

I also asked him about the increase in people who are homeless and any relationship it might have with increased property crime in Langley City. He said that people who are camping are less of a concern from a crime perspective than the people who loitering in areas such as by the Dollarama.

Tomorrow, I will continue with the next section of last night’s council meeting.

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