(Updated to correct web site address)
The Sidney North Saanich Community Consultative Committee launched their website Monday with an aim to help the community connect with local police to help solve community problems.
In spring of 2015, local police decided they didn’t have an informal platform to communicate with.
“We felt like there were probably issues of community concern that we weren’t hearing about, because people only phone us for certain reasons,” said Corp. Erin Fraser of Sidney North Saanich RCMP.
Fraser said it’s about increasing communication overall, not just bringing issues to RCMP attention. She said it’s also a way to network in the community to get to know residents better.
The committee, which has existed now for around two years, initially hosted a series of town hall presentations to try and procure volunteers. The committee ended up with 14 volunteer members representing a cross section of Sidney and North Saanich residents.
Fraser said they have quality people from various positions from university instructors to councillors from the District of North Saanich as well as the Town of Sidney.
“We ended up coming up with initiatives on how to increase communication with the community,” said Fraser, adding the initial idea was to build a website but also think about ways to entice the older population.
Fraser and George Phipps, community police officer at the Sidney detachment, periodically do presentations to the community on fraud and scam awareness. They’ve sourced that crowd for informaiton, learning more than 90 per cent are internet savvy.
So came the creation of the website, which serves as a way for the committee to connect with residents and help the RCMP gather information about the two communities.
Sidney resident Clarence Bolt, chair of the committee, said the group acts as a collective approach to having different parts of the community represented by people who will then discuss and bring up concerns in their communities.
Some of the topics of discussion, he said, will be neighbourhood safety, scams, traffic issues of community safety and drugs.
“The ones that really have dominated are traffic, and, of course we’ve been talking about scams. We’re not a very high crime area in that respect although assault is an issue… domestic issues, they are more common than people sometimes think,” said Bolt.
The initiative was started by the RCMP, who held meetings a few years ago, inviting people to share their views.
“They shared some of their ideas about what they would like to see, how they’d like to relate better to the community, how they would like to get input from the community, and also from the other side, too, is how to give feedback back to the community. That’s really an issue too,” said Bolt. “The idea is that we help create forums for people, including the website, but also a town hall meeting at least once a year.”
The website, he said, has been the major project.
“The goal now is to have a bigger presence in the community, but we’re not an arm of the RCMP, we’re a citizens’ group that simply advises with whom the RCMP consults,” he said.
The committee plans to hold a town hall meeting sometime between the end of October and early November so residents can discuss various issues.
“They don’t always have to be policing issues but because the committee and the police are linked, there’s the opportunity for those connections to be made and for the professionals on the committee to link in with their professional networks and get the community involved in trying to solve some problems,” said Fraser.
Visit the new website at consultsnspolice.com.