Alcohol related crimes and offences in the City of Fernie are on the decline. According to the Elk Valley RCMP’s third quarter report, there has been a 21 per cent decrease in Liquor Control Licensing Act occurrences since last year.
During the months of July, August, and September, there were 30 alcohol related offences, in comparison to 38 offences during the same period in 2011.
“Our provincial stats, particularly our Liquor Control Licensing Act stats, have seen a reduction,” stated Corporal Don Erichson with the Elk Valley RCMP. “It is significant because our biggest problem within the community relates to alcohol consumption and use in the downtown core, which is a function of the type of recreation based community we are.”
The Elk Valley detachment has taken steps in the last few months in an effort to address the issue, including conducting regular bar walks in Fernie’s downtown area.
“Those bar walks have led to increased contacts with bar owners and managers, and they are slowly coming around to accept our expectations,” explained Erichson. “The amount of over-service that we’re seeing in the bars is coming down, which will directly reflect the decreases that we’ve seen in the liquor violations downtown.”
The City of Fernie recently passed a Public Places Bylaw that regulates and prohibits public disturbances to discourage alcohol related offences and nuisances in the downtown streets. Specifically, the bylaw prohibits fighting, public urination, and throwing objects.
“We have seen an increase to date, we have written eight tickets, and we’re seeing a change in behavior after the bars close because of these types of things,” commented Erichson. “I’m very encouraged because we haven’t even got to the time of year when this bylaw is really going to be a necessary tool in our arsenal.”
While the third quarter numbers reflect the effectiveness of the RCMP’s work to control alcohol related problems within the community, Erichson noted there is one more deterrent that would make a big difference.
“We have been unsuccessful in acquiring our cells, which is probably the biggest tool missing to address our problems,” he remarked. “Hopefully with the City’s help, and with sustained attempts by ourselves and upper management in the RCMP, we’re going to see those things change and we’re going to get that tool approved.”