Cariboo Regional District resolutions calling for better maintenance of forest service roads and increased funding for rural community policing and rural crime prevention programs were endorsed at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention this week.
Area F, 150 Mile, Horsefly, Likely, director Maureen LeBourdais, who penned the forest service road resolution said the provincial government has established the development of private properties that are only accessed by way of forest service roads. The roads are maintained at the discretion of forest companies if there is active harvesting going on in the area.
Her resolution calls on UBCM to pressure the provincial government to undertake a review of the province’s many forest service roads to determine which ones are critical for the public’s access and egress and develop a plan to maintain them as public roads.
“By egress we also mean emergency routes in and out of communities,” LeBourdais said. “We saw that in 2017 during the wildfires where the 150 Mile House Highway 97 junction was cut off.”
The Ditch Road, for example, is a way of moving in and out of Likely and Horsefly in the case of an emergency, she added.
“There are others in the North Cariboo as well, particularly around Wells and Barkerville.”
LeBourdais said the province needs to do some mapping out of emergency routes, noting there was some research done in 2010 of resource roads and communities resulting in a report that recommended the provincial government recognize the evolving role of resource roads in B.C.
“They’ve become an asset and we need to take some responsibility to keep them safe.”
Quesnel, West, Bouchie Lake, Area B director Barb Bachmeier submitted two resolutions — funding for rural policing resources, funding for rural crime reduction and prevention groups — that were endorsed.
“We are trying to get funding for community policing. Cities, generally speaking, have community policing, but rural areas don’t have that,” she explained, noting with the population for the rural areas all around Quesnel being about 12,000 people, more police officers are needed.
Funding for crime reduction and prevention programs such as Citizens on Patrol would also help to assist the RCMP, she added.
Bachmeier also hopes more people will report thefts and other property crimes to the RCMP so there’s a record.
“In order to get more police resources we need to increase the metrics. If somebody takes money out of the cup holder of your car, you need to report it. Along with that they may have taken a tape deck out of the next guy’s car and stolen a truck down the road.”
She also submitted a resolution calling for an expanded role for the RCMP auxiliary program but learned no action was required on the resoultion because in April 2020 the federal auxiliary program was discontinued and in its place the RCMP introduced a three tier program that can be adopted based on local needs.
Recently UBCM forwarded correspondence to the Minister of Public Safety and Attorney General requesting that B.C. implement the new model in the short term until a B.C.-only program is developed for auxiliaries, Bachmeier said.
Chair Margo Wagner said she was disappointed some of the CRD’s other resolutions were not endorsed.
One in particular called for control of vegetation along powerlines to ensure a safe, stable and reliable electrical power supply.
“Through the whole Cariboo we’ve experienced more windstorms and with pine beetle from 15 years ago and now fir beetle we have a lot of standing dead trees and the wind is blowing them down over the power lines,” Wagner said.
Another resolution called on the B.C. government to begin enumerating seasonal populations of rural communities and that the seasonal population be strongly considered when looking at grant funding and the establishment of public service levels.
“I was on a committee nine years ago trying to get this sorted out because on the current Canadian census there is no question pertaining to people owning seasonal residents,” Wager said. “All of our essential services are based on the current population of an area.”