After numerous letters, meetings and phone calls to anyone who would listen, Campbell River city council was pleased to finally hear about some coming changes to the courthouse at its Jan. 25 meeting.
The city had been pushing the province to implement Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) practices to reduce “disturbances” and unwanted behaviour at the building.
Council had been asking for these changes as far back as 2017, when a letter was sent to the Ministry of Citizens’ Services expressing the city’s concerns that the courthouse frontage – specifically the large covered area directly in front of the doors – was a major contributing factor to this behaviour in the downtown core.
At that time, the city received a response from Assistant Deputy Minister Sunny Dhaliwal, saying the Real Property Division of the ministry – which oversees the real estate services for the province – had been focussing on lighting upgrades and improving sight-lines by removing and/or trimming excess foliage around the front of the property and was “developing a project to further enhance security of the entryway and introduce mobile patrols of security personnel until a more permanent solution is implemented.”
These measures were not enough to dissuade the loitering and behavior, however, and numerous subsequent requests were made by the city for further improvements.
At the Jan. 25, 2021 meeting, they finally received word from Matthew Andrews, director of asset portfolio for the Real Property Division, that the province was in the process of installing “retractable ironwork” to limit after-hours access to the covered area in front of the building, and is looking into options for the installation of cameras, although that may not be a viable option, as the installation of cameras in public areas by public bodies is limited by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” Andrews writes.
In receiving the letter, Mayor Andy Adams says he’s hopeful the ironwork will be the key piece of the change that’s needed in the area.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this and it’s certainly good news,” Adams says. “With council’s endorsement, I’d like to write a letter of thanks, but also attach some of the recent incidents that have gone on at the court house and encourage them to expedite these improvements as quickly as possible. It’s taken years to get this and it’s been certainly a problem area not only for the surrounding businesses but also the baliffs and the people who have to clean up every morning before they can open the doors for the public.”
Council then unanimously endorsed the writing of that letter by the mayor.