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CHARBONNEAU – Problem of ‘catch and release’ offenders is a hot political issue

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

KAMLOOPSIANS ARE BEING TERRORIZED, businesses vandalized and personal property stolen by a small number of people.

What can be done? It will certainly be an issue in the upcoming municipal election in October.

It’s tempting to blame the homeless for crimes but the opposite is true: some vandals and petty thieves just happen to be homeless.

Some don’t even live in Kamloops but move from town to town.

Such was the case last month when Kamloops RCMP responded to complaints from merchants about thieves making off with shopping carts full of stolen merchandise. During the blitz, police made a number of arrests of men and women wanted in other B.C. cities.

Targeting prolific offenders is one solution but holding them is a problem.

In a letter to B.C.’s Attorney-General David Eby, mayors of the 13 largest B.C. cities told him that the province has failed to stop a tiny number of people from committing a large number of crimes.  And a similar small number of mentally ill make citizens feel unsafe in their communities.

The mayors of some cities said they had 10 to 50 offenders stuck in a “catch and release justice cycle.”

They suggested that more community courts should be created to divert some away from jail time and into treatment.

Many are obviously mentally ill. The parade of desperate humanity is hard to watch. It breaks my heart to see my fellow human beings in such a traumatic state – walking down the street yelling at themselves or yelling at others, often lashing out at others.

Mayoral candidate Reid Hamer-Jackson has seen the problem up close from his car lot on Victoria Street West. He told me that he knows a number of homeless Kamloopsians by name and fears for their health because they have been banned from shelters.

Hamer-Jackson knows what vulnerable street people are going through, having spent some time on the streets of Edmonton.

He often gets up at four in the morning to talk to street people and especially in the dead of winter, to help them find shelter. Hamer-Jackson told me that some of these frail addicted beings live on the edge of survival and some have died or are about to die if nothing is done.

Hamer-Jackson would like to see treatment centres located in rural areas outside Kamloops like Vision Quest, located outside of Logan Lake, sprawled over 20 acres of land.

Or a treatment centre could be located on city property north of Rayleigh, Hamer-Jackson said. Such an area outside the city would allow addicts to be away from bad influences.

It might be a hard sell.  When he pitched the idea to one street person, they replied that they didn’t want to be held behind a fence. He replied: “The only ones behind fences will be cows.”

Not all of Kamloops’ homeless are criminal or addicted; they are just trying to get by. With winter gone, homeless camps have been springing up by the river, just a block from my home.

When I walk by their camps on a warm spring day, their lives seem idyllic – until I realize they are not on vacation and that homelessness is not an option they choose.

David Charbonneau is a retired TRU electronics instructor who hosts a blog at http://www.eyeviewkamloops.wordpress.com.

About Mel Rothenburger (8893 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on CHARBONNEAU – Problem of ‘catch and release’ offenders is a hot political issue

  1. P. Graham // May 13, 2022 at 9:17 PM // Reply

    I can one depends upon public charity, one cedes considerable personal autonomy, and cannot presume to set the conditions for that charity. Take it or leave it…

  2. Mr. Noakes answer to the problem I don,t understand. There are a great many people in the Kamloops area next to and close to railroad tracks.How about drying a lot of them out and a stint of Mr. Grahams ” constant social activity” on Calvert Island.

    • John Noakes // May 14, 2022 at 6:27 AM // Reply

      Hi Robert,
      Thanks for your question and input.
      The thought is that mental health issues are a cause for prolific offenders’ actions. Presumably, dealing with mental health could change the pattern of people being repeat offenders. I am in agreement with that.
      There are numerous sources on line about studies done on the effects environmental noise has on the mental and physical health of people.
      Measurements between 88 and 102 dB were recorded as trains passed by.

  3. Homeless people will reject a home on the range wilderness shelter. They want and need constant social activity such as urban life provides…

  4. John Noakes // May 12, 2022 at 8:48 AM // Reply

    I’ve talked with Reid a few times on the Rivers Trail in the vicinity of “Moira House”. He seems to be a guy who is genuinely interested in the welfare of others and that includes the homeless.
    It’s unfortunate that a sitting councillor described a proposal to have a facility constructed near Rayleigh as being “a concentration camp”; something along the lines of being fenced in and being forced to go there.
    “Moira House” is a compound surrounded by a steel chain link fence 8 feet high. There is one way in and one way out. The side of the compound facing the CN railway tracks is only about 25 yards from the track. I bought a sound level meter and did sound level measurements as trains went by. Thank goodness I was wearing hearing protection.
    “Moira House” was approved by Mayor and Council and my guess is that none of them ever even considered what level of noise and vibration would blanket the facility.

  5. It is a “hot potato” that nobody wants to handle because the lack of courage and resolve. If the ones creating havoc don’t want to be held behind fences then we should hold them within jail walls. Choices need to be made between a reality that is not working and a yet to be decided way forward.

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