Original Published 10:48 May 10, 2022

By Binny Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

B.C.’s launching of further investigations to deal with the issue of prolific offenders is a terrible disappointment to all the mayors and councils who have been expressing concerns about the deteriorating state of affairs in their jurisdictions, says Skeena BC Liberal MLA Ellis Ross

On May 5, the province announced the appointment of Doug LePard, a former Vancouver deputy police chief, and Amanda Butler, a Simon Fraser University criminologist, to lead a four-month investigation.

The announcement came a month after B.C. Attorney General David Eby received flak in legislature and by urban and rural mayors, for the Crown counsel’s catch-and-release approach toward offenders and failure to protect the public.

However the announcement falls short due to its lack of urgency, said Ross.

“It’s difficult to see anything being done about prolific offenders this year,” said the Skeena MLA, adding, “A four-month review is hardly creative considering the time it will take to consider the solutions the review will contemplate.”

“It must be terribly disappointing to mayors and councils who offered their own suggestions on how to use the tools currently available to the attorney general,” Ross further said.

The Terrace & District Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 300 businesses in the area, expressed concerns about the timelines since criminal activities inflict financial and physical costs to people everyday in the city.

However, it is a step in the right direction, said Tom Keller, president of the chamber.

“Does four months sound like a great timeline? No, but is it an actual acknowledgment of the problem and a step in the right direction,” said Keller.

“We know government doesn’t move fast, so sometimes we have to accept these things, but I think there will be continued push to try to get some short term solutions while they’re working on this,” added Keller.

Terrace Mayor Carol Leclerc said she intends to maintains a positive attitude toward the announcement and added the council will wait and watch what solutions the investigation leads to.

Appointing experts who have an extensive background in dealing with substance abuse and mental health disorders and the justice system is a good way forward, said Leclerc.

“They’re going to investigate to find out why there’s so many prolific offenders, what’s the behavior behind it, what’s the pattern behind it to be able to figure out things.

“So if people need to get mental health treatment or addictions treatment or housing, that is a way to stop prolific offenders from continuing what they’re doing,” Leclerc added.

Meanwhile, the attorney general said that while LePard and Butler will not be visiting northern communities, they have been asked to direct special attention toward Terrace.

“Terrace is one of the communities front and center certainly in my mind, and I’ve communicated that to these investigators that the needs and concerns of Terrace are a significant part of what’s been brought forward to government,” Eby said.

“Everyone is aware that Terrace is one of the communities that is particularly hurting in this regard, and that is going to need particular attention.”

This item reprinted with permission from Terrace Standard, Terrace, British Columbia