Terrace RCMP have asked city council for a statement against drug trafficking.
The request came after RCMP seized meth, fentanyl, and cocaine, and arrested three people, in a raid on a house in the 4600 block of Scott Ave. in Terrace on February 20.
Although none of the people arrested have yet been charged, Terrace RCMP asked council to provide a community impact statement which could be presented to a judge if charges are laid and the case does go to court resulting in a conviction.
“We would like to give the members of city council the opportunity to have a voice when it comes to the sentencing of individuals convicted of drug trafficking,” wrote Cst. Mike Weselowski in a request sent from Terrace RCMP to city council. “It would be a voice for the citizens of Terrace.”
Community impact statements are an established component of court proceedings in Canada, much like victim impact statements. Judges consider these statements during the sentencing portion of a case.
The house raided was near a school, Cst. Weselowski wrote, and he indicated that hard drugs are becoming a bigger problem in the city.
“There has been a marked increase in the use and availability of potent, addictive drugs such as crystal meth and fentanyl year after year in Terrace,” he wrote.
In a statement to The Terrace Standard, Cst. Weselowski said he observed the use of a community impact statement at his previous posting in Ile a la Crosse, Saskatchewan.
“I thought this was a great initiative and worth pitching to the City of Terrace,” he said. “I’m happy it’s receiving interest.”
Cst. Weselowski said he was involved in the drug investigation on Scott Ave. in Terrace, and he previously worked five years in a RCMP federal drug enforcement unit.
Council considered the request at a public meeting April 27 and voted unanimously to prepare the letter.
Councillor Evan Ramsay said he interpreted, within the RCMP’s request, an indication that longer sentences for drug traffickers would have a positive impact on the city.
“There is likely less harm to the community and reduced burden on city services dedicated to homelessness, mental health and addictions and other services,” he said at the meeting.
Ramsay said he supports increased penalties for fentanyl traffickers.
“The province is in a state of emergency regarding fentanyl,” he said. “Traffickers supplying fentanyl, especially near a school, should be considered [to] the full extent of the charges laid.”
Councillor Lynne Christiansen said at the meeting that sometimes RCMP work extremely hard on cases only to have the cases falter when they get to court. She said police can only do so much to combat the issue of hard drugs.
“They’re strained for resources,” she said. “If the community can help in any way, I think we need to lend our support, because this problem is so far-reaching, and the impacts are so deep.”
Cst. Weselowski suggested that council could prepare a single general community impact statement that could be used in any drug trafficking case, but council opted to write impact statements on a case-by-case basis. Councillor James Cordeiro said he thought a single impact statement would lose efficacy if a judge saw the same one multiple times.