A pattern of increased crime near Third Avenue has led the city and the Port Alberni RCMP to consider some environmental changes.
Mayor Mike Ruttan brought up a recent spike in break and enters during a round table budget meeting on Feb. 8.
“[We] had a discussion with one of our local business owners on Third Avenue and he was experiencing a significant increase in break and enters into his business and we gathered that it’s happening to a number of businesses along there,” he said.
“Is one of the ways that as a city we can address that by increasing lighting on the Dry Creek Path, and maybe hard surfacing that path? Is that something that we can consider as a city?”
RCMP Inspector Brian Hunter agreed that criminal activity has “skyrocketed” since the building of a path after the Dry Creek Improvement Project, which was completed in early 2016.
“We’ve been advised that crime in general has gone up since there’s been a pathway back there,” said Hunter.
“Business owners have drawn a correlation between the two.”
Hunter said that CPTED is a progressive way to deal with the spike in crime. CPTED (or crime prevention through environmental design) works with the theory that creating an environment not welcoming to criminals will cause crime to go down.
“Lighting it up all back there, and of course surveillance video for the police is a fantastic tool because we know most of the criminals out there,” said Hunter on Feb. 8.
“There would appear to be a design flaw that’s different from what was there before, because there’s a pattern of increased crime, for sure.”
City of Port Alberni CAO Tim Pley said during the round table budget meeting that the addition of lights on the Dry Creek path is on the supplemental project list for council to consider for this year.
During Hunter’s RCMP Fourth Quarter policing report to Mayor and Council on Jan. 23, Hunter told council that criminal code offences were up 8.5 per cent for the quarter compared to 2015, and this increase was largely attributed to an increase in thefts, thefts from vehicles, people causing disturbances and breaches of bail. They were up 10 per cent for the year.
Hunter noted that Port Alberni’s RCMP detachment is a very busy detachment, and crime reduction can only take place when officers have proactive time—meaning they are not responding to calls or working on the calls they went to.
The detachment will be taking steps to do more proactive policing work through the hiring of a city-employed manager sometime in 2017.