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

More buoys allowed for Brentwood Bay

Proposed number rises from 40 to 60

Victoria airport reaches nearly two million passengers in 2017

This year expected to see additional growth

Peninsula speed skating duo aiming for the national stage

Pair opted to train in long track skating this season for the first time

Tent city resident just wants a home

Roving tent city has made its way to Central Saanich

Pellets shot at window of B.C. Transit bus

Bus was travelling near Craigflower and Admirals roads Wednesday morning when window was hit

Sidney’s Salish Sea aquarium to close for maintenance

First extended closure for the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea since it opened in 2009

Butchart Gardens is hiring now and paying more

Wages start at $15, job fair Feb. 20

Cash still needed for Stelly’s Cross Path

MLA Olsen wants more specifics first

Injured parachutist wants stolen backpack back

Bag contained important video files of 2017 parachuting incident

Winds up to 100 km/h expected for Vancouver Island

“If you are near the water, it is important to be ‘Coastsmart,’ by staying above the high tide.”

Island-filmed TV series gets third season

Crews returning to Parksville Qualicum Beach to film Chesapeake Shores in the spring

Bank of Canada hikes interest rate to 1.25%, cites strong economic data

The rate increase is expected to prompt Canada’s large banks to raise their prime lending rates

Trump aces mental aptitude test designed by Canadian immigrant

“This is a good example, I think, that will be helpful to change views about immigration. And maybe for Mr. Trump himself to consider immigrants as contributors to advancing science, advancing our societies.”

Rival Koreas agree to form first unified Olympic team

The rival Koreas took major steps toward reducing their bitter animosity

Most Read