A letter addressed to Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes is being distributed to businesses and homes in Quesnel, expressing concern over criminal activity taking place in the city.
The letter, which is addressed to Oakes’ Quesnel office, is not signed, but leaves space for residents to sign and add additional comments.
“I am frustrated and angry regarding the ever-increasing criminal activity in our community,” reads the letter.
“I am hoping you can help me understand what part of ‘the system’ is failing the good people of Quesnel. Is it the shortage of RCMP members, or is it Crown Counsel continually returning these thieves to our streets?”
It goes on to say, “We are now finding that not only our business community, but several of our sub-divisions and residential areas are being targeted by known criminals and transient newcomers.
“I am pleading with the governing bodies of Quesnel to act and help the tax-paying citizens of Quesnel take back our community.”
The Observer was unable to discover the name of the individual or individuals who are distributing the letter, but Oakes’ administrative assistant Jackie Sarginson confirmed via email that as of Thursday afternoon, the office has received 10 separate copies of the letter, signed by local individuals.
Oakes is currently working in Victoria, B.C. but told the Observer via email that she is aware of the letter and is hoping to bring it to the attention of the government.
“The community elevating this important issue of concern is an important piece of us getting necessary resources from the government and I applaud the community members and look forward to working with them to address these serious concerns,” she said.
The distribution of the letter comes after Oakes herself penned a letter to the editor, printed in the Observer on Wednesday Aug. 15 and on the website Aug. 16, highlighting the shortage of police resources in rural British Columbia ahead of Minister Mike Farnworth’s visit to Northern B.C.
“I first raised this matter during the spring session of the legislature,” Oakes writes.
“I reminded Mr. Farnworth that Cariboo North covers more than 33,000 square kilometres, yet we have far less [police] resources compared to many other jurisdictions. We only have 21 members at the Quesnel detachment and part of the riding is policed by Williams Lake detachment, but this pales in comparison to the City of Surrey, with little more than 300 square kilometres yet 822 officers.”
And Quesnel City Council recently addressed the issue as well, sending a letter to the Attorney Generals of Canada and the province, as well as the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Public Safety and Solicitor General of British Columbia.
The letter calls for the fulfillment of all 21 funded officers in Quesnel, and also asks for more officers to be funded by the province. Currently the city provides funding for 21 officers and the province provides for nine; however, Mayor Bob Simpson says the Quesnel RCMP detachment has at times operated with as few as 16 officers.
A copy of that letter was also sent to Prime Minister Trudeau, B.C. Premier John Horgan, Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty, and Cariboo-North MLA Coralee Oakes.
City Council’s letter to the provincial and federal governments also asks for an increase in local Crown Counsel resources.
Theft and property crime in Quesnel is up year-on-year from 2016 to 2017.
In 2017, 228 residences were broken into, compared to 134 in 2016. Theft from vehicles went up from 247 in 2016 to 335 in 2017, and theft of vehicles increased from 132 in 2016 to 151 last year. Data for 2018 is not yet available.