Kids run freely in Boitanio Park during the Cariboo Memorial Complex summer day camp

Kids run freely in Boitanio Park during the Cariboo Memorial Complex summer day camp

Group works to keep Boitanio Park safe

There are no short-term solutions to solving the issues in Boitanio Park in Williams Lake.

There are no short-term solutions to solving the issues in Boitanio Park in Williams Lake.

A Boitanio Park safety group was created in late 2012 that has had a series of meetings with stakeholders to address safety issues in the park, manager of social development Anne Burrill said during a report to council.

“Some really good work has happened over the period of time that we’ve been meeting,” she said.

Three different working groups have tackled three priority areas. One is to do increased outreach into the park to vulnerable people spending time in the park who are struggling with addictions and health issues.

A second group is working through the existing homelessness and housing committee that is chaired by the Canadian Mental Health Association that is doing integrated case planning to link people with community services and help provide supports.

The third group looked at providing a drop-in centre for people who spend time in the park, but that idea has not gone any further.

“It’s a fairly challenging undertaking to develop a new service in the community,” Burrill.

During the next few months, the group will look at various housing models because the cost of providing housing to vulnerable people is considerably less than the cost of providing health care and policing services to homeless people.

“We will also look at a model around intensive wrap around health services. Clients would have access to wrap around services that would address mental health and addiction issues,” Burrill said.

A community survey conducted two years ago identified safety as the number one issue of concern by residents and Boitanio Park was identified as the number one spot where people did not feel safe, Mayor Kerry Cook said.

“All of this work has been done as a result of that and initiation by Insp. Warren Brown last fall.”

Insp. Brown said the park continues to be as busy as it has been in past years.

Between January and the end of June, the RCMP had exactly the same number of prisoners as during the same period in 2012.

“Although not broken down into locations for arrest, I would suggest that the numbers arrested for alcohol related matters at or near the park are similar to previous years,” Brown explained.

During the summer, RCMP increase park patrols because there are youth programs in the park.

“I believe the park is a safe place during the day, however I would still encourage people to respect one another and refrain from illegal activity including drinking alcohol in the park,” Brown said.

Coun. Surinderpal Rathor focused on a recommendation in Burrill’s report for increased lighting in the park and asked if the city is following the recommendation and can install lights sooner rather than waiting until the fall.

Community policing co-ordinator Dave Dixon is looking at crime prevention initiatives through environmental design principles, Burrill responded.

“We’ll be looking at the park for potential location of lights and location for potential emergency call buttons. You’re absolutely right that we need to move forward on them, but we need to do it in a strategic way.”

Aside from safety concerns, the park is a gathering place when it’s not used for abuse, and a number of people from outlying communities to meet, Coun. Laurie Walters said.

“There are some positive gatherings happening there,” she added.

Coun. Danica Hughes thanked Burrill for the report.

“Something that struck me with it was that people in the park are actually welcoming the walk throughs and are not opposed to it, which kind of surprised me. That surprised me because I thought they would want as little attention as possible.”

It made her realize they need protection too, Hughes said.

“I am so relieved our community is caring about these people,” she added.

She recalled a story Last year in the summer when she  was talking with someone who was frequently in the park. Hughes noticed something had happened to the person’s face.

“This person was sleeping in the park and someone came up to this person and kicked them in the face and broke their jaw,” Hughes recalled. “It’s important we protect these people too, it’s not just about tax paying residents.”

Cook also praised CMHA homelessness worker Wayne Lucier for his dedication to the community.

“He does extraordinary work and makes inroads,” Cook said. “What became apparent is it’s not an easy fix and we have systemic issues in the park.”

 

Just Posted

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

A Cariboo Regional District director and School District 27 trustee, Angie Delainey is also a fourth generation business owner in downtown Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Angie Delainey appointed Cariboo Regional District representative on regional board

Delainey and Steve Forseth represent the CRD at the North Central Local Government Association

Pauline Schmutz, 75, receives her COVID-19 vaccine from public health nurse Donna McKenzie on Tuesday, April 13 at the community clinic at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled for Horsefly, Big Lake

Anyone 18 and over who has not received a vaccine yet is encouraged to register

The Cariboo Regional District. (Angie Mindus photo)
Industrial park slated for Watch Lake Road

Building company Omnitek to start building new plant on 32-acre site

Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort on Puntzi Lake has been purchased by Tsideldel First Nation. (Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort photo)
Tsideldel First Nation buys Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort at Puntzi Lake

“It’s a good opportunity for the band, our children and our future,” said Chief Otis Guichon

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Most Read