Community Coordinator Jenny Wallace of Wildsafe BC led the proceedings at the City of Castlegar council meeting of November 2.
The local coordinator, as it happened was pleased to report a very light year in terms of conflict with bears – only four having to be destroyed as opposed to other years when as many as 50 or more needed to be put down.
Wallace described the range of activities and functions she had taken part in over the past season in efforts to raise awareness over wildlife-related issues. In such a capacity she attended, for example, the nature and garden fest, Sunfest, Teddy Bear picnic, the farmers’ market (on five occasions), a Twin Rivers Park display, and the Pass Creek Fall Fair.
A central point was the description of the need for a wildlife attractant bylaw (which will get further attention at the next council meeting of Dec. 17).
“In most cases, me going to the door and suggesting they keep their garbage inside is enough,” she said. “Usually education is enough, but in certain cases, especially with chronic offenders, that’s when we need a bit of a bigger stick to encourage them to take responsibility for attractant management.”
Corporal Darryl Orr and Sergeant Mike Wicentowich of the RCMP’s Kootenay Boundary Regional Detachment were next to address council, the Crime Reduction Unit was the focus of their presentation.
The overall thrust of their message was the commitment and ability of those in the unit, and the effectiveness of the unit in spite of some manpower challenges.
“One of our main focuses is managing the offenders that live in Castlegar,” said Orr. “Most of them you’re probably not aware of, but we’re certainly aware of them.”
The RCMP members are pleased with the tools at their disposal.
“This (pharmacy) robbery case that came up a couple of weeks ago is a good example of how we’re able to throw a bunch of resources at a large investigation like that in a short period of time to try and solve it quickly,” said Orr. “We had seven people for three days, going steady.” He added that it was the same kind of response after the arson fire at the Catholic church. Cpl. Orr updated council on the pharmacy incident, assuring that the investigation is continuing.
The issue of drugs is an ongoing one for police.
“The focus on drug work is something that’s been challenging, specifically over the last year,” said Orr, “because of the medicinal marijuana licensing. There’s definitely a component to indoor growing operations here.
The problem is that a lot of the people we were targeting before for indoor grows, got licences in the meantime. We’re finding that 75 per cent of the grow ops we investigate are medicinal.” Orr described that, “It’s almost like we’re in a holding pattern to see those regulations change again, in April, I think.”
The corporal said he thinks it will become “…harder to get medicinal licenses and it will, hopefully, weed out the people who are getting them for the wrong reasons.”
Chris D’Arcy of the Castlegar and District Heritage Society was next up with an annual report for council.
There was an upbeat theme to D’Arcy’s delivery as he warmly thanked the mayor and council for their interest in local heritage and culture.
“We like to think that helps our community and tourism prosper.”
Although itemized financial data for 2012 and 2013 were not year available, D’Arcy was able to inform that available society funds, as opposed to last December when the amount was $4,100, had grown to $9,500.
“That partly reflects management throughout the year,” said D’Arcy, “and it partly reflects the fact that it’s been a better year.”
In terms of other agenda items:
• Council agreed to the purchase of three half-page ads in Kootenay Business magazine for a total of $4,090. The ads are to promote Castlegar in the economic development section of the March/April issue; Castlegar Sculpturewalk in the July/August issue; and Sculpturewalk results in the Sept./Oct. issue.
• Council voted in favour of supporting an upcoming Junior Dragon’s Den event – June 6 at Trail’s Charles Bailey Theatre. The City will provide sponsorship in the amount of $2,500.
• Council received for information a report from Rich Coleman, Provincial Minister for Housing in regard to the province’s response to a building bylaw with higher radon standards than required by the B.C. building code.
The local bylaw had been submitted in June of this year, and had not met the government’s requirement for provincial uniformity.
The City is interested in taking part in a related upcoming project with the B.C. Lung Association.