B.C. police boards and community engagement

Of the 28 municipalities in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, 22 are served by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police under a  federal-provincial-municipal contract. Six  cities have local police departments governed by citizen boards.  We’re talking about Abbotsford, the City of Vancouver, West Vancouver, Port Moody, Delta and New Westminster.

The latest B.C. Government survey of police operations finds about 2,040 Mounties  doing local policing in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley District compared with 1,940 city police.  There’ve been recent concerns about the RCMP on several scores; the city police departments and their citizen boards offer an alternative model for organizing and governing police services. Continue reading

Marijuana grow-ops and their neighbours

At the Liberal Party of Canada’s  national policy convention last weekend, 77 per cent of delegates voted in favour of a youth wing resolution to legalize marijuana.  In part, the vote reflects frustration  that our expensive yet half-hearted efforts at prohibition leave  communities exposed to  unreasonable risk.

Despite ongoing efforts to identify and shut them down, we had an estimated 18,000  illegal indoor marijuana grow operations in summer 2011 in British Columbia alone [Globe and Mail real estate section link, now deleted].  In other words, about one in every 120 dwellings shelters a grow-op.  A 2004 publication for Canadian realtors lists the costs for the wider community: a heightened risk of structural fires, chemical spills, increased violent crime and property crime, and the signficant theft of electric power, which BC Hydro values at $100 million per year in this province.  This is aside from the costs imposed on individuals when they unwittingly purchase a former grow-op.  Continue reading