The new Corridor Safety Office will be opening later this month at 490 Trans-Canada Hwy.
The office, located in the north half of the old Duncan Music Store, is intended to provide a central location for ongoing efforts to address crime and public disorder in the section along the TCH corridor between Beverly Street and Boys Road as part of the Valley’s new Safer Community Plan.
As well, a “Who to Call” document will soon be distributed to businesses and residents in the area clarifying who to contact to respond to various concerns in order to eliminate confusion and reduce call volume to the RCMP.
The City of Duncan, the Municipality of North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes are working together, in collaboration with community stakeholders, including the Cowichan Valley School District, health and social service providers, RCMP, local businesses and many others, to implement the Safer Community Plan to address crime and public disorder in that area of the TCH.
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 concerns for business owners in the corridor area are social issues, safety and security.
Conway said the study cited a current level of “public disorder” as a shared concern among business owners, and identified a high level of frustration regarding the lack of assistance and response businesses receive from law enforcement authorities, government agencies and local government.
At the time, the local governments each committed $10,000 to develop the plan and to get the initiative started.
The Safer Community Plan coordinates enforcement resources from both municipalities, Cowichan Tribes, and the RCMP.
Immediately following approval of the plan in August, increased enforcement presence along the corridor began, including daytime patrols conducted by RCMP, Blackbird Security, and bylaw enforcement.
Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour said the First Nation supports the work being done under the Safer Community Plan.
“It is something that needs to be done, as this is a big issue that requires more focus and efforts,” Seymour said.
“This issue is not the responsibility of one community. We all need to work together to address this challenge collaboratively.”
Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples said the RCMP has “really stepped up” to provide support for the initiative.
She said the city appreciates the ongoing commitment of local leadership working together.
“We know that leadership is made up of not just elected leaders, but many others including the RCMP, SD79, Island Health, local businesses, community members and community service providers,” she said.
“Each of us has a different role that we bring to finding solutions, different views and perspectives; all of which are necessary for us to create the changes required to move forward.”
North Cowichan’s Mayor Al Siebring added that all of the governments in the region are working together to provide additional resources for housing and addiction treatment, as well as addressing crime and public disorder.
“The types of crises we are facing in the corridor are complex and are going to require a fulsome solution, not a band-aid fix,” Siebring said.
Inspector Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, said the RCMP appreciates the efforts of the City of Duncan, Municipality of North Cowichan and Cowichan Tribes to bring the Safer Community Plan to fruition.
“We are always looking for new and cutting edge ways to address problems in the community, and working together on the Safer Community Plan has been very effective,” he said.