Citizens identify youth issues, drugs, traffic problems as biggest priorities in the area - Sep. 18, 2013
The Community Policing Committee for the local service district has identified youth issues, drugs, traffic issues and response times as the first issues they will tackle in the area.
The issues arose from a public meeting at the Bayside Community Hall on Thursday night, where the public were encouraged to pinpoint issues that are most pressing to the area. Each person attending, whether they were a member of the public, or a member of the Southwest New Brunswick Service Commission, were encouraged to write down their top three priorities for community policing and share them. From there, three sub-committees were struck to deal with the top issues.
Before that was done, committee co-chair Frank Carroll, who is also the mayor of McAdam, reminded everyone at the table “We do not have a mandate to look at cost analysis.”
The meeting brought everyone into a round table discussion, with no separation between the current committee and the public.
While some of the priorities were more specific than the sub-committees that were struck, a consensus was reached that the biggest issues could be divided into three components. With 23 people attending, from LSD reps and mayors to concerned citizens, to the RCMP, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, and Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, and 17 of those participants identified drugs and youth issues, ranging from youth crime to suicide to homelessness and others, as a major concern. Five people volunteered for that blanket sub-committee that will look at drugs and youth issues.
Carroll spent 10 years on the policing committee in the old District 2 before the boundaries were re-drawn and the service commission model introduced.
From that experience, he outlined that there is plenty that the sub-committee could do to work with the RCMP and develop programs that will address the problem without adding an extra burden onto law enforcement.
“We did a lot of stuff and it didn’t put any of the load on the RCMP at all. We took some ownership of this and that an exciting step we can take with that.”
The second most-voiced concern was traffic issues, which included off road vehicles travelling on public roadways. Sgt. Bob MacKnight of the RCMP outlined that traffic enforcement and off-road vehicle enforcement are currently the two top priorities for the RCMP in this region, so this sub-committee is in line with their top two priorities. When the sub-committee was formed, nine people volunteered.
Also present at the meeting was Aaron Butler, the acting head of the province’s Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement Unit. He travelled for four and a half hours to attend the meeting. He identified one thing the public could immediately do to increase the effectiveness of enforcement in the area: call his unit with complaints instead of the RCMP. The number for Off Road Vehicle Enforcement is 1-877-449-2244.
A sub-committee to look at response times in the area was also struck, which two people volunteered for. There was no debate regarding that issue.
After creating the sub-committees were struck, the response to the meeting was unanimously positive, with many of the attendees from the public remarking that the meeting signified a good start to improving life in the area.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Ella Mae Hanley, a citizen from Back Bay, “but I’m really impressed by all the things (they) talked about.”