Efforts by local police to educate the public about the perils of leaving valuables in vehicles seems to have paid off in Parksville, according to year-end crime statistics presented to city council by the chief of police Monday night.
In 2013, there were 131 incidents of theft from vehicles in the city. That dipped to 70 in 2014.
“It looks like the community has done a good job in this regard,” said Oceanside RCMP Staff Sgt. Brian Hunter. “And we really want that number to keep going down.”
Hunter broke his report down to 15 categories of crimes. Most year-over-year numbers were relatively flat with the exception of theft from vehicles and theft (both over and under $5,000), which increased to 217 incidents reported to police in 2014 from 188 in 2013.
Mischief to businesses (eg. graffiti) dipped to 107 incidents in 2014 from 130 in 2013, while mischief to residences rose to 56 from 45. The number of reported assaults was 68 in 2014, down from 85 in 2013.
“Violent crime is not prevalent in this community,” said Hunter.
The Oceanside RCMP detachment has three contracts for policing, one with each of Parksville, Qualicum Beach and the Regional District of Nanaimo. Parksville gets 16 RCMP members in its contract, Qualicum beach eight and the rural areas 13.
Hunter said Parksville’s crime rate is 84 crimes per 1,000 people, which puts it 18th out of 32 communities in the province with a population between 5,000-15,000. Qualicum Beach has 38 crimes per 1,000 people.
Coun. Al Greir asked Hunter about how prevalent distracted driving offences are in the city, saying he continually sees drivers texting or talking on their cell phones.
“I think it’s one of those things that doesn’t just frustrate me, it frustrates the public,” said Hunter.
Hunter did not comment on the recent issues raised by the Phoenix Pain Management Society’s desire to set up a medical marijuana compassion club in downtown Parksville and no questions were asked by council on the subject.
(Visit www.parksville.ca for Hunter’s year-end statistics.)
In other council news from Monday night’s meeting:
• The Vancouver Island Tribute Festival asked council for a break on the rental of the conference centre — or a donation of $1,000 for its second annual event this year, scheduled for May 22-24. The inaugural event raised more than $5,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society last year, explained one of the organizers, Phred Judson. Council decided to defer the request to upcoming budget deliberations.
• Faye Smith and Peter Law of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES) provided council with a presentation about the work and study the group has done on Shelly Creek, asking the city to take a leadership role in restoring the creek’s natural hydrology. The city agreed it could look at replacing some culverts at Blower Road and councillors also agreed to take a MVIHES-led tour of the creek in April (see Editorial on this topic, page A10).
• The Island Crisis Society, represented by Violet Hayes and Sarah Poole, updated council on its work helping the homeless of the region. They explained they are taking over part of a building next to SOS and plan to offer a permanent homeless shelter and other services in that facility. They were looking for a letter of support from council in their bid for funding from B.C. Housing. Council seemed amenable to the request but asked for details on what needed to be in the letter.
• Council passed a motion to erect a memorial tree and plaque to honour former Mayor Allen Hustwick, who died last month. Coun. Sue Powell also asked staff to put Hustwick’s name on the list for future street names in the city.