EDITORIAL: More bureaucracy is not the answer

Province's community safety bill seems more like window dressing

So-called problem houses can be found in virtually every municipality in urban Greater Victoria: unkempt properties with notorious reputations for drug dealing, stolen property, loud parties and dangerous characters.

When the B.C. Liberals introduced their Community Safety Act in the Legislature on Thursday to target this problem, it sounded like a good idea, at least on its face.

The legislation will establish an office where people from anywhere in the province can anonymously complain about a neighbouring property or resident.

The office will take steps to substantiate the claim, then force the property owner to clean up their act.

A lot of this is happening now at the civic level. People complain to their municipal hall and/or local police detachment about a property thought to be a drug house or a place where drug addicts try to sell stolen goods.

Police in Greater Victoria field most of these complaints – more than they can handle – but eventually many of these houses are targeted by street crime units and some are busted in raids.

Municipalities can revoke occupancy permits for houses used as grow-ops or those that are otherwise too run down for safe habitation.

Local governments can also seize houses, but the legal process is long and onerous and can often swing on whether the property owner has paid their property taxes.

It’s not clear that the unit created by the proposed Community Safety Act will fare any better. Unless it is particularly well staffed, it’s likely to be overwhelmed with complaints.

Residents can wait a long time for problem houses to get busted by police or shut down by municipal authorities.

It seems unlikely an outside agency could work any faster or have the manpower to investigate even a small fraction of legitimate cases.

Why spend taxpayers’ money on this instead of helping people on the ground? Municipal officials, bylaw officers and police detachments know the problem houses, know the individuals involved and are eager to make their neighbourhoods safe.

This “community safety” bill looks more like Liberal window dressing in advance of the May election than a program that will create a coherent policy to help B.C. communities.

Just Posted

Prize winning Urban Bee Honey Farm generating a buzz

Urban Bee honoured at the Vancouver Island Business Awards

African rhythms, dance performance to help out Sierra Leone charity group

Feb. 23 show by Issamba ensemble a fundraiser for Victoria-Taiama Partnership

Excitement builds for first Victoria Folk ‘N Fiddle Festival in Sidney

First headliners announced, wide range of community friendly musical, cultural events planned

Over 100 take the Vancouver Island polar plunge

More than $25,000 raised for BC Special Olympics athletes

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read