The Steele Report

First of all congratulations to the organizers and volunteers of the Crime Prevention Forum held in Oliver on Tuesday night.

I have always said, you do not know the size of a solution you need, until you know the size of the problem.  How many of the residents feel there is a serious problem? We got a response that was overwhelming.  Officially it was said crime is on the increase, but it’s on the increase across the Province.  The important message was  “Crime is on the increase”!

Pretending it’s not a problem is not acceptable, was another message from the public.  Even more important was the fact people didn’t just complain, many of the people had some valuable input when it came to solutions that can make a difference. We had emotion, we had an expression of fear, we had a hard line stance on crime, we had a balance in that in addition to courts and sentencing there was room to find those who could be rehabilitated.

We had suggestions as to having additional police officers. We had suggestions a court house be brought back to Oliver to relieve the pressure and crowding of the courts in Penticton.   Another future problem to be addressed that will impact Oliver was the fact – Greyhound transportation ends October 31st and a present released prisoners are sent home by Greyhound.  Prisoners will still get home and out of the local community, however it will still consume additional resources to get them home.  This can be used as a point of leverage to make your needs a priority.  In exchange for public approval, certain promises were made and now is the time to request your needs.

One of the suggestions we heard was  the big drug companies should be made to pay for the problems they caused putting the highly addictive opioid s on the market.  It was suggested government sue them for medical costs and Wednesday morning the Provincial Government announced they would be doing that.   It was highly unlikely they were responding to us but it was a great coincidence.

The fact is people are upset, angry in some cases and scared as well.  At the same time they were prepared to listen to a variety of ideas expressed.  Yes some things need to be done. It comes down to resources or the lack of them.  How does that improve?  There is a formula for improvement in getting what you need.  The recipe involves many ingredients including :

Diplomacy

Outlining what you need, being respectful but firm

Planning

You have to go to senior governments with a  detailed plan explaining why you should be a priority. All too often those in charge go with experts an and civic planners and that is essential.   Today however you need more than that.  Senior officials respond to face to face stories from victims as well

Impact

What is the real cost of crime not just to the but the cost and lost opportunity for the area, for local residents and ultimately lost revenue for governments when business opportunities go somewhere else.

Crime is everywhere we all heard that, crime is on the increase we heard that too.  Not speaking about it delays action and when action is delayed it takes even more resources to overcome the problem.

Oliver needs a court locally to deal with local problems in the South Okanagan, that became apparent listening to the speakers.  Oliver and Osoyoos need additional police to  keep the staffing levels within acceptable levels that was heard as well. We heard of the difficulties facing local officials trying to manage the problems.  We have also heard the expectations of the general public.  There is a discrepancy between managing and expectations, but that can be resolved by listening to the priorities of the public.   Why when the senior levels of government hear its a public priority it becomes a problem of numbers.

The one example that stood out from memory is the public wants more officers.  It comes down to convincing senior levels of government that the South Okanagan is a priority. I think it might be helpful to form a committee made up of the municipal councils, the regional district, local citizens some of whom were excellent speakers Tuesday night and for heaven sake take Chief Louie as part of the committee.

If senior governments see a united front especially those who have not always been on the same page they are much more ready to listen, The forum was a success in that it provided ideas and it allowed victims  to understand they are not alone.  In addition it provided some solutions.

Now, the next step is to come together, take what you learned and put into the pot of collective action. Organize yourselves as a community, then go t o the local MLA Linda Larson.  She doesn’t bite I promise I have worked with her successfully in the past.

Then approach Provincial Ministers and seek their cooperation and assistance dealing with the Federal aspects of providing a solution.

You might be surprised how successful you might be.

 

Fred Steele

 

PS  thank you for your participation, engagement and your civility you made being the moderator a pleasure.

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