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Extra policing coverage sought by Powell River RCMP

Staff sergeant asks city council to support joining Vancouver Island major crimes unit
INSURANCE POLICY: Powell River RCMP staff sergeant Rod Wiebe outlined the advantages of belonging to the Vancouver Island integrated crimes unit and asked that City of Powell River request that it join.

City of Powell River wants to join a Vancouver Island policing unit that could provide valuable assistance in the instance of a major crime.

Appearing before the July 13 committee of the whole meeting, Powell River RCMP staff sergeant Rod Wiebe said the matter of joining a major crimes unit was discussed numerous years ago. He said the offer is on the table from the province for the Powell River detachment to join the Vancouver Island integrated major crimes unit.

“What this would do is, for lack of better words, buy the city an insurance policy, that should a significant crime occur in Powell River, they would come and investigate,” said Wiebe. “I’m mostly talking about murders. A straightforward murder can cost upwards of $500,000 and if it happened in the city, we would be on the hook for all of that.

“I’m asking for council’s support to engage the ministry (of public safety and solicitor general) to move forward with this and let’s get this done. The longer we wait, the more chance we will need their services and it will cost a significant amount of money.”

Committee chair councillor Maggie Hathaway said the city has some funds put aside in case that event should happen, because it could.

“Just to put it into perspective, it’s like the IHIT (integrated homicide investigation team) team in the Lower Mainland,” said Hathaway. “Everyone is familiar with IHIT, but they just do the Lower Mainland. This would be Vancouver Island and we’re included.

“The mayor and myself met with some people who were developing it a few years ago and that kind of fell off the table. I think it’s a really good idea. We just didn’t seem to be quite prepared then.”

Hathaway said the city had received a letter from the mayor of North Cowichan asking that Powell River write to the minister and ask that he proceed with moving this forward. She said it could cost the city a whole lot of money if there was a serious crime.

Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said one of the ministerial meeting requests the city has made at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention is to meet with minister Mike Farnworth on this topic.

Hathaway said in the meantime, the committee could ask mayor Dave Formosa to send a letter to Farnworth asking that this be moved forward. The committee gave unanimous consent to do so.