By Andrea Horton
Fernie residents Carolyn Dillon and Clyde Platt addressed council at the Committee of the Whole meeting on January 23 regarding the Downtown Task Force put in place to combat the serious issue of noise and destruction in Fernie’s downtown core.
The task force was put in place in the spring of 2010 to recommend actions for the City to address these issues but has not met during the past year.
The core district is made up of approximately 80 residences and 50 businesses. Residents are complaining about noise, litter and graffiti while downtown businesses that run during the daytime are cleaning up the aftermath of the night before. Complaints of blood, vomit, urine, broken glass, discarded cans/bottles and drug paraphernalia are reported.
In its initial phase, the task force deemed that current bylaws were out of date and needed improving. They recommended that the City provide the RCMP with a Nuisance Bylaw to address these problems, the adoption of a Good Neighbour Agreement for bars to establish guidelines to reduce disruptions to their establishments and the adoption of a Bar Watch program that would increase the bar’s ability to control disorderly patrons.
The RCMP requested a bylaw to help them deal with less serious offences and to deal with gaps in the criminal code.
According to the Task Force more police presence is what is needed, but according to Sgt. Dave Dubnyk of the RCMP a lot of the disturbances do not get reported to the RCMP.
“We are very stat driven,” said Dubnyk. “For us to go to the province and ask for more membership, an increase to our establishment, we just don’t have the numbers to support that request simply based on the calls for service.”
It is very important to report these crimes to the RCMP.
“The study and research has been done,” said Mayor Mary Giuliano. “It has been studied extensively and it’s time to take action.”
Based on the suggestions from the task force, council directed staff to bring back information on how more lighting, surveillance cameras and the Nuisance Bylaw could be implemented.