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  • Gayle Baker

Welcoming Sergeant Clive Seabrook and Learning About RCMP Successes and Challenges on Salt Spring

February 23

Eighteen joined us for all or part of our time together at this ASK Salt Spring gathering welcoming RCMP Sergeant Clive Seabrook. After our Territorial Acknowledgement, Clive told us what excites and delights him: Living and working on Salt Spring! Already into his fourth year with us, he continues to love working in our community, feeling the same excitement he felt upon his arrival. He credited the support he gets from Salt Springers as an important part of his continued delight working here.


As you may know, Salt Spring is classified as a community requiring officers to be relocated every four years. As many of us believe Salt Spring to be a near-perfect place to live, this required relocation is a surprise to many. Clive explained that small communities bring their owns challenges as well as benefits. One of these challenges is the small number of officers are on call between shifts and are often called into guard prisoners and other duties.

 

While on call, officers must be prepared to step into action, keeping their phones with them, never journeying off-Island, and prepared to jump into uniform at a moment’s notice. And, of course, no drinking during these on-call nights! Also, when called out during the night, officers must be ready to begin their day shift at 7:00 a.m. even if they had been working much of the night.


Aware of the potential burnout of this schedule, Clive places a priority on his health and that of his officers. This prioritization has resulted in clear benefits: For the first time in years, Salt Spring has as full contingent of officers with none on sick or stress leave!


According to Clive, 24/7 service would require additional officers - a relatively unlikely expansion given the relatively low number of overnight calls. When asked how often he and his officers are called out during the night, the good news is that night calls are approximately half of the number of when Clive arrived in 2020 - dropping from about 130 a year to approximately 70 last year.


So, are these frequent on call nights enough to convince Clive that he wants to leave Salt Spring? Participants at this ASK Salt Spring gathering were pleased to learn that Clive hopes to extend his stay here. Discussions with his supervisors will begin this May, six months before his required relocation. Clive is optimistic that he will be allowed to stay for at least one more year. He also knows that our community will advocate for him with RCMP decision-makers as soon as asked.


With some unresolved issues to address when he arrived, Clive is pleased with progress addressing them. When asked to tell us more about these concerns, he noted that issues concerning Centennial Park were out of control when he arrived. Crediting help from community groups, a respectful relationship with those spending time in the Park, and CRD Bylaw Enforcement, calls about Centennial Park have dropped radically over the past few years. (He did note his concern that the CRD PARC Bylaw Enforcement budget has recently been reduced, crediting CRD’s help addressing issues in Centennial Park.)


Another unresolved issue that appeared out of hand when Clive arrived were the numerous abandoned vehicles, especially recreational vehicles, that resulted in a large amount of litter on our streets. Residents, business owners, and visitors often commented about these vehicles occupying the spaces needed for those visiting Ganges and the Saturday Market. These vehicles also often resulted in a safety issue as vehicles left abandoned for too long had their windows smashed or were the scene of suspicious fires.


Believing that owners often saw Salt Spring as a convenient place to abandon their unwanted vehicles, Clive has expended a great deal of effort clearing our streets of these unsightly abandoned vehicles. Removing these vehicles is full of complicated challenges, requiring research, cooperation with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI), communication with often reluctant owners, ticketing, and, occasionally expensive towing, costing MoTI thousands of dollars. And, remember, those are our tax dollars, taking funding from all those things we want from MoTI, like signs, better shoulders, and that list goes on. . . . 

 

Remarkably successful, Islanders are still annoyed by some of these unsightly abandoned vehicles. Be assured that even though some seem to stay too long, Clive has all of these abandoned vehicles in his sights.


When asked about the appeal process for owners of these vehicles, Clive was very clear that he and all of his officers follow provincial law to the letter when dealing with these vehicles. In his assessment, provincial law is very detailed in its requirement. When, later in the conversation, a participant asked about many large trucks that have been modified, Clive told us that he often requires them to be inspected, reminding us that, if they pass inspection, they are deemed safe for the road.

 

Concerning unresolved issues, Clive told us of two things on his Wish List:

  1. A Sobering and Assessment Centre: He reminded us that being drunk or high often requires help not jail time. A complex social issue often beginning with inadequate housing, Clive recognizes that there is only so much that he can do to solve the problem, often only able to offer kindness and respect. We learned that other communities have designated places where those who are high or intoxicated and struggling can be safe, with trained staff in attendance and prepared to discuss next steps when they are sober again. This kind of space cannot be in an area where folks are also living as sobering can be a noisy and middle-of-the-night occurrence. That means that it would be difficult for the Community Services Shelter or the temporary BC Housing community on Kings Lane run by the Umbrella Society to work as a sobering centre. It was asked if the Kings Lane community could become a sobering centre when our long-awaited Drake Road 28-unit supportive housing is completed, hopefully in 2024. As this property is owned by Gulf Islands Senior Residence Society, GISRA, (https://www.gisra.ca/) with plans for its own housing on that property, the future of the portable buildings on Kings Road is unclear. Stay tuned. . . .

  2. Security Cameras: Also on Clive’s Wish List are well-placed security cameras. Right now, large areas of Ganges have no camera coverage. With few folks as witnesses, vandals could be untraceable. With a few more cameras, perpetrators are far more likely to be caught. While the series of broken windows a few years ago seem to have stopped and shootings are, thankfully, not happening, a recent robbery did occur in Ganges – a robbery that was solved using the business’ security cameras. Clive knows where most of the security cameras are and has identified additional sites for a few more. A possible LCC Grant-in-Aid, this item on Clive’s Wish List may be a relatively- easily solved one.


When asked about his top concerns, he responded the Salt Spring RCMP is investigating more serious offences such as the sharing and viewing child pornography. This alarming trend is constantly monitored, and Clive is informed each time an activity at an IP address on Salt Spring is detected. Salt Spring RCMP will get the required Court Orders to investigate any suspected cases of sharing and watching child pornography.


On a recent search, Salt Spring RCMP Officers also discovered a gun being assembled by using a 3D printer to create parts. This resulted in a gun trafficking charge which could result jail time if convicted.

 

We also learned from Clive that drinking and driving on Salt Spring is bordering on being out of control. Beware: Clive has absolutely no tolerance for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He suggested, Take a taxi home, or better yet, take a taxi there, or drink only when there is a designated driver!


When asked why he and his officers seldom ticket drivers who pass cyclists too close for safety, Clive responded that he and his officers do ticket unsafe driving, especially around cyclists, but that they cannot be everywhere and that it is up to us as a community to pass cyclists safely. . . and, cyclists, please wear your helmets - It is the law!


When asked about the Speed Watch Program (https://bc-cb.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=2100&languageId=1&contentId=41714), Clive responded that he had temporarily placed this volunteer program on hold, focused, instead, upon supporting other promising local volunteer efforts, most notably, our new Ambassador Program: https://saltspringexchange.com/2023/06/28/ask-salt-spring-with-the-coordinators-of-the-new-ambassador-program/).


When asked about housing for his officers, Clive told us that there is one RCMP owned-house and that there have been discussions about developing more housing for our officers.


Some of us were surprised to learn that a police boat, a large inflatable, is heavily-used, much like an extra RCMP vehicle. In remote areas with long, inaccessible driveways or poor roads, this boat is sometimes the vehicle of choice for our RCMP officers. It is also used heavily in our harbour. While the RCMP is not charged with dealing with rescues, searches, or fires, Clive and his officers often find themselves on their boat addressing boater safety. He and his officers also visit live aboards to get to know the occupants. It helps to know who they are looking for and if anyone is missing when responding to an emergency.


While a participant felt strongly that we do not have enough local justice, we learned that a judge does travel to Salt Spring to hold court in the Service BC office on Lower Ganges across from Country Grocer. This participant also felt that oversight and appeals for the RCMP’s Prime police records (https://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/privacy-impact-assessment-police-records-information-management-environment-prime-bc) were not sufficient; Clive countered that every entry is thoroughly reviewed at multiple levels. While they agreed to disagree, Clime welcomed this participant to visit him to continue their discussion.


Clive was asked if there had been any results from Minister Farnworth’s visit to ASK Salt Spring last spring (https://saltspringexchange.com/2023/03/08/ask-salt-spring-with-minister-of-public-safety-and-solicitor-general-and-deputy-premier-mike-farnworth/). Clive told us that he was very thankful for the opportunity to speak with Minister Farnworth. In light of increased funding for RCMP officers, it was hoped that Salt Spring would not be forgotten as these increases were allocated. Clive, like all other RCMP Detachment Commanders, submitted requests for more officers; no news concerning this request has yet been received.


In other provincial RCMP news, Volunteer Auxiliary Programs (https://bc-cb.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=23&languageId=1&contentId=379) are being revived. Largely inactive for a number of years, it has taken some months to formally deactivate exiting programs. That has now been accomplished and, according to Clive, these programs are ready to begin again. Is this something Salt Spring should consider? Possibly, but for now Clive is putting his energy into our Ambassador Program rather than a more crime-oriented RCMP-initiated program. 


As 1:00 was upon us already, before saying farewell to Clive until his next visit, he was acknowledged for his well-read quarterly reports (https://saltspringexchange.com/2024/01/15/salt-spring-island-rcmp-end-of-year-report-for-2023/). While he admitted that these reports were very difficult to write, somewhat sanitized, with many distressing details omitted, he was pleased that they were appreciated.


Before he left, he told us what a great job we were doing adhering to our new 30 kmh Ganges speed limit! He noted that these slower speeds were especially important due to the propensity of pedestrians who continually cross where convenient but often not safe. At least these slower speed limits allow drivers to see these jaywalking pedestrians with plenty of time to brake.


With a promise to visit ASK Salt Spring again later this year, we applauded Clive for his commitment to treat all with respect, his tenacity addressing longstanding issues, his love for Salt Spring, and his obvious pleasure being a very important member of our community. (Thanks, Clive!)



Please join us this Friday, March 1 (already???), 11-1, in the SIMS (former Middle School) classroom next to the Boardroom to welcome Andrew Gaetz, Operations Manager of Emcon, our roads maintenance contractor.


What would you like to ask Andrew?

  • Can you give us a quick Roads 101 so that we understand which roads projects are Emcon’s responsibility, and what are projects of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI)?

  • What was your largest project in 2023?

  • What do you expect to be your biggest challenge in 2024?

  • What successes have you had since you took over the contract from Main Road some years ago?

  • What are your biggest concerns about Salt Spring roads?

  • When will you have to renegotiate your contract with MoTI? Are there some changes you would like to see in your next contract?

  • And?


Please join us to welcome Andrew this Friday!


Just in case you are interested. . . .This report has been written by Gayle Baker, Ph. D., founder of ASK Salt Spring, currently also a Salt Spring Local Community Commissioner. This report has also been edited by this week’s special guest.


Did you know that ASK Salt Spring now has an Event Organizer? Grant Fredrickson has stepped up to identify special guests and coordinate their visits. . . Wahoo!


Who else would like to help? Maybe you would like to take charge of weekly media? Do you see yourself facilitating? How about writing reports? Or. . . ?


Please join us making ASK Salt Spring ever better!


Big News:

ASK Salt Spring now has ongoing funding! A heartfelt THANK-YOU to the Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA) and its Executive Director, Peter Allen !!!


***New fundraising option***

You can now give the Return It change you earn from your bottles to ASK Salt Spring: Account #230.


Any questions, anytime: ask@asksaltspring.com


Want to see reports from all the ASK Salt Spring gatherings,

monthly schedule of upcoming gatherings? Asksaltspring.com.

Want to listen to interviews of our special guests?ASK Salt Spring Answered


Want to help? ASK Salt Spring now has a Save-a-Tape box at Country Grocer.

We love your receipts! Remember: #15


Our Partners. . . .

Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA), Country Grocer through Save-a-Tape and Gift Cards and Island Savings' Simple Generosity grant.

A heartfelt Thank-You!

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