Residents are planning a protest outside the courthouse in Williams Lake Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo.

‘We’re a community on the edge’: Cariboo residents plan courthouse protest over escalating crime

Residents say they are being targeted by prolific criminals who are going unpunished by the courts

After enduring months of escalating criminal activity, residents in the McLeese Lake area are organizing themselves and planning to take their concerns to the steps of the provincial courthouse in Williams Lake Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Residents from the rural communities of Soda Creek, Tyee Lake, Blue Lake and McLeese Lake — located along Highway 97 between Williams Lake and Quesnel — say they have become the targets of a half dozen prolific offenders in the last 18 months who have been wreaking havoc in the area.

Dozens of concerned citizens met at the McLeese Lake hall last week to discuss next steps and decided to form the McLeese Lake Community Policing Association, which already penned a letter to Williams Lake City Council Friday outlining their concerns and intentions to present a petition this week calling for more policing for the area and accountability from the courts.

READ MORE: Police target growing property crime problem in Williams Lake, arrest five for suspected drug trafficking

The group said the situation has gotten dangerous, to the point where a community member took matters into their own hands and is “suffering worse than the criminal they’re attempting to fight.”

“We’re a community on edge,” McLeese Lake resident Dan Harrison told Black Press Media in a statement, noting residents live in fear that their belongings will be missing when they get home from work. “We cannot enjoy our way of life.”

Harrison describes the work of police as “exemplary” but that even when police bring the offenders to court, the courts release the suspects and the cycle continues with the community paying the price.

“It’s not right.”

In their letter to council, the group said the community rallied to raise close to $3,000 to help cover legal fees for the resident facing charges.

The group noted they have the support of MP Todd Doherty, MLA Coralee Oakes and Cariboo Regional District Area D director Steve Forseth in trying to improve the situation and plan to make an official statement at the demonstration Wednesday.

READ MORE: Cariboo Regional District director wants review of policing strength in rural communities

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