Comox Valley RCMP Insp. Tim Walton recognizes there are problems outside the Courtenay Library but says it would be too costly to beef up police services on that particular stretch of Sixth Street.
Walton appeared Tuesday before Courtenay council to discuss policing matters in the city, particularly policing approaches to the library. The front of the building is, at times, a gathering spot.
“The core issue is anti-social behaviour,” Walton said, noting drunkenness, shouting and other types of behaviour that disturbs the public.
Members of council have noted concerns about illicit activity such as drug trafficking in and around the library. However, Walton cannot afford to dedicate a full-time foot patrol in the area.
Foot patrols, he said, are “not a cheap solution,” estimating an $8,000 to $10,000 bill for enhanced policing services near the library.
Last month, Coun. Doug Hillian had motioned to invite Walton to council chambers to discuss the matter. He has since heard suggestions that council is engaging in “poor bashing,” or picking on marginalized individuals.
“That’s the farthest thing from my mind,” said Hillian, noting the library is a place for the entire community.
His motion was not an attempt to move marginalized people from the area, but Hillian said council needs to do what it can to make the library and the streets safe for all members of the community.
Mayor Larry Jangula commended police for targeting the following priorities: traffic collisions, prolific offenders, organized crime, distracted driving, overall traffic enforcement and graffiti reduction.
In the area of distracted driving, police issued 69 violation tickets in the second quarter and 329 tickets through the third quarter of the year.
Police note a “substantial drop” in the number of graffiti incidents in the Valley.