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Volunteers’ safety a concern
Parksville’s community policing office is underused but city council hopes to change that by giving it a new location.
RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman, in charge of Oceanside community policing, appeared before Monday’s regular council meeting to request the move.
The office is currently in a quiet corner of the community centre, where Foreman said the volunteer manager works alone.
“There’s nobody near them or around them,” he said. “My main concern this year, after a couple of incidents, is safety. People wander in, they see community policing and they don’t make a separation between volunteers providing services and the RCMP or police in general.”
Foreman said they have had “a few tense moments there,” and compared that to the community policing office in the middle of the Qualicum Beach Town Hall.
“The office is right in the hub, the nerve centre of town. You walk in to see council, the mayor or to use the library and you can’t help but walk into that office,” he said.
That brings in a lot of people “asking about services like block watch, gatekeepers, keeping in touch, fraud awareness, bicycle rodeos, scooter rodeos, as well as attracting new volunteers,” Foreman said.
The community-based, non-profit, donation-driven office is volunteer run, Foreman said, and Parksville has trouble attracting enough volunteers, which is not an issue in Qualicum Beach.
“We get less than a quarter of the visits here in Parksville and we have a much larger community. I attribute that to (the office) location.”
“We’d like to be housed . . . here in the atrium, with a very simple structure, glass walls and a door,” he said, explaining they just need room for a desk, one person working and be able for someone to come in and close the door and lock it at night.
“The model in Qualicum actually works very well,” said mayor Chris Burger. “The synergies in this building are actually quite tremendous — there’s not a day that goes by that virtually every aspect of the community isn’t represented. I think this would be a very positive thing for us.”
Most of council expressed support for the idea and unanimously supported Coun. Peter Morrison’s motion to have staff report back on the possibility.