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REPORTING · 26th October 2010
Walter McFarlane
In the last week of May 2008, a vandal marked up the businesses in the green space between the Post Office and City Center Mall in Kitimat. This led to a meeting of business owners in June at Pedro’s Restaurant where the Community Crime Reduction Initiative (CCRI) was born.

Working with both the RCMP and Council, the CCRI discussed ways they could reduce the vandalism in the community as well as make Kitimat a safer place to live. Their success was in starting a program where local Church Youth Groups would take the time to paint over graffiti. Another success was the revival of the Restorative Justice Program.

However, one of their longest running campaigns was the introduction of Safety Cameras in the Community. Starting in 2008, the CCRI recommended the introduction of the Safety Cameras at key positions around Kitimat. The positions were in areas which see frequent vandalism. While the Cameras would not be able to stop crime as it happens, they would be a boon in catching the person who performed the vandalism.

This issue was delayed time and again through 2008 and into 2009. At the end of the year, those cameras were deferred to the 2010 budget. However, with the demand to maintain a taxation level that was comfortable with the citizens of Kitimat and the demand for an animal shelter, the camera project went to the dogs after a ‘Give half the baby to each mother’ motion by Councillor Rob Goffinet.

When the safety camera issue was raised by Councillor Mario Feldhoff as Council was going through their status report at the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday October 12th, the discussion it sparked was definitely a surprise.

“I thought that this now was a dead issue unless somebody wanted to bring that back,” said Municipal Manager Trafford Hall. “We reallocated those funds to the dogs.”

Feldhoff could not decide what the final decision was. He said this item had been left hanging until there was further funding. He suggested deferring it to the budget. Councillor Randy Halyk reminded them about how Goffinet’s motion put the money towards the Animal Shelter.

Hall said this was not an issue anymore as no one was pressuring Council for the cameras. In addition, there had been huge changes in Kitimat after Eurocan closed. Monaghan pointed out there was a second area asking for a policy which should be merged with this one.

“We’re saying that if there is agreement, I would move to remove it but if there is one Councillor who doesn’t feel comfortable with that, I would leave it on the list,” said Feldhoff.

Councillor Gerd Gottschling said he disagreed with removing it because Council did promise the CCRI they would have the cameras. He also reminded Council they cut the police force by two officers and might cut more in the future. He said there has been support for the cameras within the community and Council had worked hard on the initiative.

Feldhoff agreed and suggested bringing it back at budget time as there had been no decision as to where to resume. On the next page of the status report, the Community Crime Reduction Initiative had been listed as abandoned. Feldhoff suggested combining it in with the previous two items.