The City of Terrace is calling on municipal lobby groups and the province to re-examine Crown Counsel’s priorities after witnessing a severe uptick in criminal activities.
The council unanimously passed a resolution to send to the North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) for its 2022 annual general meeting and convention.
The NCLGA will then present the issues discussed in the resolution before the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM). The resolution also carries letters of support from several business owners in Terrace who have been victims of criminal activities.
The City of Terrace has highlighted BC Prosecution’s (Crown Counsel) failure to charge repeat offenders, who are routinely released without consequences or meaningful conditions imposed upon them, in a Mar. 3 resolution.
The city is also questioning Crown Counsel’s decisions to not recommend charges for criminal offences that are referred by the RCMP.
“In Terrace, as well as other communities across the province, individuals are often arrested for crimes like theft and property damage but the Crown does not lay charges citing it is not in the public interest to prosecute. Offenders of these crimes repeat their actions and businesses, workers, and the public are victimized as a result,” the resolution read.
The city is asking authoritative bodies to define what constitutes “public interest” with respect to pursuing charges for criminal offences.
The City of Terrace is asking the NCLGA to lobby the province to ensure the Crown Counsel is living up to its vision and mission and value statements and consider.
“We have heard from our community that businesses are overwhelmed and that people do not feel safe in the downtown, mostly due to a small amount of prolific offenders who are dealing with severe addiction and mental health challenges,” wrote Coun. Sean Bujtas in a social media statement.
While Terrace residents and downtown businesses have been complaining about increased criminal activities like theft and assault for several years, of late they’ve been voicing concerns about the plight worsening.
In a statement to Black Press Media, the Terrace RCMP confirmed a visible spike in break and enters and thefts since January 2022.
The RCMP attributes the rise in these numbers to specific individuals, who they say are “prolific offenders.”
Three such offenders were arrested for fresh crimes they committed and the police recommended charges resulting in two of those individuals being sentenced to jail time in January.
“In February 2022, one other prolific offender returned to the Terrace area, and again property crimes spiked. RCMP continue investigating these offences, making repeated arrests of this individual, and submitting results to BC Prosecution Services,” RCMP spokesperson, Const. Kelly Cates said.
“While having these prolific offenders out of the community will not erase property crime, it certainly helps,” added Cates.
Terrace council will also be looking at scheduling meetings with the Premier John Horgan, Attorney General & Housing Minister David Eby, mental health and addictions minister Sheila Malcolmson.
The council also expressed frustrations about not being able to get meetings with Premier John Horgan since 2019, despite several attempts to do so. With provincial ministers often declining to attend Terrace’ virtual town hall meetings around social issues like crime, addictions and mental health, council members say that the province has a biased approach when it comes to northwest B.C.’s dilemmas.
“It’s not acceptable. He [Horgan] needs to sit down with us and they need to fully understand the issues of the northwest,” said Bujtas.