Wanna-be ‘Street Kings’ gang under control: RCMP

Briefs from the District of Invermere council meeting on October 23.

In his quarterly report to District of Invermere (DOI) council, Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac said three new members means the detachment is finally operating again at full strength.

The experience is although somewhat limited given the two junior officers recently graduated from the RCMP academy in Regina and are required to spend six months working with a senior officer before their training is considered complete.

The number of calls received by the detachment compared to this time last year has gone up, Shehovac reported. From January 1 to September 30, calls have increased from 433 to 620, and in the last quarter from July 1 to September 30, they’ve jumped from 150 to 230, but the increase is not actually due to more incidents, he stated. Rather, the system for managing calls has been corrected and now the recorded number is actually accurate.

It was a busy summer for the detachment, he went on to say, which according to police begins in the valley on May long weekend and runs through to the weekend of the Radium car show.

“Every weekend there’s a demand for special events,” Shehovac said, “and we did a fairly good job.”

The extra $10,000 in seasonal policing funds allocated to the detachment for the summer paid for 15 extra patrols and 132 extra patrol hours. Detachment members were doing the patrols on their days off and the money was used to pay for their overtime. Shehovac is hoping for another $10,000 next year, not the $8,000 he’s received in previous years. He expects about $2,000 for the winter season, which will go towards snowmobile patrols.

The detachment’s priorities remain drug and alcohol abuse, education and awareness as well as traffic safety, he said. The detachment made a real effort to get out of the office and on the road in this most recent quarter, and members were encouraged to join community groups and participate in various events.

As for crime, the detachment’s focus has been on prolific offenders, or repeat offenders, he said.

“The majority of crime is done by a minority of people,” Shehovac said. One group is particular, jokingly referred to by Shehovac as the “French Connection” as they were connected to Montreal, was no longer in town, he said, and most of the group is facing charges and outstanding warrants. Should any of these individuals wish to return to the valley, they will be once again identified as prolific offenders and garner the same attention, he said.

The detachment had set a goal to identify and have ten charges before the courts involving prolific offenders for the fiscal year starting in April and are already up to 22, the majority of which are drug-related or breaching conditions, he said.

“Our job at the Detachment is to make life safe and comfortable for the citizens in the Valley while making life very uncomfortable for those who wish to be involved in criminal activity,” Shehovac told council. “Our work with targeting our prolific offenders seems to winning some battles.”

As for the Citizens on Patrol in Invermere, it’s stagnant Shehovac said.  “Our priority is to get that program active again in Invermere,” he said.

A question by Councillor Spring Hawes about unusual traffic checks in the Industrial Area, brought up the subject of the Street Kings, a group of individuals engaging in criminal activity in the valley who have been using intimidation tactics against people already known to police.

Shehovac referred to them as “a bunch of punks and bullies who have not grown up” and who are brave in groups but “cry like babies when in cellblocks.”

“We put on the heat, they disappear,” he told council. “Compared to gangs in the Lower Mainland, they’re in diapers.”

RCMP have been targeting their activity, more traffic checks in the Industrial Park being a part of that initiative.

Hawes also raised the concern of open drinking at Kinsmen Beach that took place over the summer. Shehovac said more RCMP visibility was key in deterring this.

“Drugs and alcohol will never go away,” he said. “It will always be a problem.”

Lake zoning

Council unanimously voted to give first reading to the new bylaw that initiates surface zoning of Lake Windermere and to hold a public hearing on the zoning amendment bylaw.

DOI chief administrative officer Chris Prosser said the goal was to see the bylaw adopted before the end of the year of shortly after the new year in order to implement it in early 2013. By protecting the water and habitat of Lake Windermere, he said the bylaw is consistent with the DOI’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan, Imagine Invermere 2030,  and it also addresses economic viability. While the bylaw will not take away anyone’s rights, it will eliminate a number of buoys, he said. Whereas the majority of buoys in the Fort Point and Kinsmen Beach areas are in compliance with Transport Canada’s Navigable Waters Protection Program, there does not appear to be a single one in compliance along the CPR tracks, where there are anywhere between 50 and 75 buoys, he said. In order to comply, buoys need to be the colour orange and a certain size, be properly anchored, have a 40 feet swing, be 40 feet from the foreshore, and be identifiable with the owner’s address.

Prosser said an influx of buoys has occurred since August out of fear of regulation, resulting in an overabundance.

Hawes raised her concern that given the time of year the public hearing would be held, second home owners would not be able to attend and give their input. Prosser replied that of the 20 people who attended the open house on lake zoning in July, zero second home owners were present.

Laneway OK’d

Council unanimously approved the placement of a propane service line across DOI lane way in order to accommodate a new propane tank for AG Foods that is located on an adjacent piece of private property. Furthermore, council directed district staff to investigate any interest in the purchase of the lane way, which is currently serving no district-related purpose.

Drinking water

Council unanimously voted to adopt the recommendations in the groundwater, Goldie Creek and Paddy Ryan reservoir protection plans and implement them immediately.

“This is global protection, not just one system at a time,” said Prosser, adding the overall protection plans also fulfils the operating requirements set by the Interior Health Authority and is consistent with Imagine Invermere 2030 in that it assure safe and reliable drinking water for the community.

Councillor Paul Denchuk asked if there had been any savings set aside for this, to which Prosser replied: “Some, not a lot.”

The district’s acquifer, located in the Athalmer area from which water is drawn, is 260 feet deep. An important part of the project would be counting every single well in Athalmer and measuring their depth — “we have to reduce the number of straws to the watermelon” — as well as implementing more fencing around the reservoir systems to reduce access.

“There were some comments but nothing significant that would cause us to change from the course that we’re on,” said Prosser about the open house that took place in September.

District staff will continue to communicate with affected landowners.