If you want to solve ‘problem’ houses, get out your wallet

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
October 25, 2017 - 5:07am Updated: October 25, 2017 - 12:12pm

KAMLOOPS — Is Kamloops becoming the next Surrey?

That’s one of the questions showing up on social media in reaction to this week’s shooting on Nelson Avenue. Surrey does have a reputation for shootings, but in fact violent crimes are on the decrease there.

In Kamloops, though, we’ve had two shootings recently — one fatal — and people are understandably worried. They wonder why “problem” houses like the one involved in this week’s incident can’t simply be shut down.

Kamloops isn’t exactly the Wild West when it comes to “problem” or so-called “crack” houses — it already has several bylaws to give police some clout. They can be used to control noise and illegal substances but police can’t simply walk in and kick everybody out without legal grounds.

Cities are always borrowing ideas from each other to try out new bylaw wrinkles.

Kamloops is no exception, and every time residents become fed up and take their complaints to City Hall, another review is prompted. No doubt, the soon-to-be amalgamated police committee and co-ordinated law enforcement task force will have much to talk about.

Comparatively speaking, Kamloops is still a safe city. Few things make life more miserable, though, than living on a street plagued by criminal activity.

Much of the problem is rooted in the drug trade, which goes much deeper than problem houses, and that brings us back to good old-fashioned police work. A lot can be solved with more police.

It’s no coincidence that Surrey’s success in cutting its crime rate has come after it boosted its RCMP numbers by 100 officers a couple of years ago. And that came after residents raised hell about police service in their city, and were willing to pay more.

RCMP constables are paid up to $86,000 a year after three years’ service, plus bennies.

So if you want something serious to be done about protecting neighbourhoods, be prepared to get out your wallet.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.