Duncan and North Cowichan have partnered on an initiative to address crime and public disorder along the Trans-Canada Highway corridor between Beverly Street and Boys Road.
Both local governments have now endorsed the Safer Community Plan, which will establish a corridor safety office and coordinate municipal bylaw enforcement and RCMP resources in that area.
The local governments have each committed $10,000 to the initiative.
The plan was developed in consultation with local business owners, Cowichan Tribes, the Cowichan Valley School District, health and social service providers, RCMP and many others.
A staff report written by Rob Conway, North Cowichan’s director of planning, that was presented earlier this year said a study by Community Futures Cowichan on the issue determined that the primary issues for business owners in the corridor area are social issues and safety and security.
Conway said the study cites a current level of “public disorder” as a shared concern among business owners and identifies a high level of frustration regarding the lack of assistance and response businesses receive from law enforcement authorities, government agencies and local government.
A press release said staff from both local governments have taken immediate action by seeking a location for the corridor safety office, and initiating planning for increased daytime security patrols, bylaw enforcement resources, and cost-sharing.
An implementation plan will be back before both councils for approval in August.
Duncan’s Mayor Michelle Staples said the initiative is just the beginning.
“We will be working on further steps for the highway corridor area to support businesses and residents,” she said.
“Duncan and North Cowichan will continue to work together to advocate for additional resources for the existing community health and social service organizations, as well as more long-term housing and treatment facilities that are needed for people dealing with homelessness and those also dealing with addiction and mental health issues.”
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring added that the corridor safety office, staffed with municipal bylaw resources, will greatly support the local businesses along the corridor that have been dealing with these challenges for far too long.
“Another recommended action in the plan is crime reduction, and I am pleased to confirm that North Cowichan is close to wrapping up the hiring process for a new RCMP crime analyst position, which will focus on gathering data to reduce crime,” he said.
The Safer Community Plan was prepared in collaboration with Randy Churchill, an enforcement and security professional who is a former RCMP officer and former manager of bylaws with the City of Nanaimo.