Homelessness, addictions and crime

In recent years, Quesnel has seen a rise in homelessness, addiction and crime. We’re not alone trying to deal with these complex social issues. Other City’s in BC, Canada, and around the world also face these issues.

Working within our jurisdiction, the City of Quesnel has become a key partner in working towards solutions for these issues. Other key partners include the Northern Health Authority, Province of BC and Government of Canada.

City Council and City staff are fully engaged with federal, provincial, and local partners to try and facilitate the implementation of best practises to:

  • Provide more robust services for the homeless and people suffering from mental health and addiction issues; and
     
  • Provide more enforcement and prosecution services to protect the safety of the general public.
What the City is doing
Additional RCMP and Bylaw Officers

As a direct result from the City’s Budget 2019 survey, you asked for more RCMP and Bylaw officers. The City has submitted an official request to the Province for two additional RCMP officers to our force. It may take up to a year for these positions to be filled.

We have also increased our bylaw officers this summer. Previously, we had two full-time Bylaw officers, and now, during the summer, we have up to five bylaw officers. Our Bylaw Department has increased their presence in the downtown core as well as in West Quesnel, and we have received positive feedback from the business community.

Public Safety and Policing Committee

In 2017, City Council created a new standing committee, the Public Safety and Policing Committee (PSP), to examine issues such as crime, public drug and alcohol use, panhandling, and squatting; explore best practices, and present Council with options to address them.

These committee meetings are open to the public. You can view the agendas and minutes on the meetings page.

From this committee, the City created the Safer Quesnel Project.

Safer Quesnel Project

In late 2018, the City contracted Randy Churchill Consulting for Municipalities to complete a Safer Community Plan providing recommendations to address crime and disorder, which resulted in the Quesnel Safer Plan. Recommendations from this plan include:

  • Create a safer working group
  • Increase enforcement presence
  • Review RCMP resourcing
  • Recognize the importance of health and social services role
  • Utilize crime prevention through environmental design
  • Improve tools for dealing with problem properties
  • Courts/Crown – Prolific and chronic offenders

Learn about the actions the City has already taken.

August 27, 2019 Staff Report – Safer Quesnel Update

Housing Needs Assessment, Gap Analysis and Action Plan

There is an identified discrepancy between the housing stock in the region and the type of housing that is in demand. Reports over the past several years have suggested that the housing stock is primarily large single-family homes and buildings that are in a state of significant disrepair. There is also reported demand for smaller homes and properties across several demographics.

The City of Quesnel, in partnership with the Cariboo Regional District, has hired Urbanics Consultants Ltd to complete a comprehensive North Cariboo Housing Needs Assessment, Gap Analysis and Action Plan.

This plan will build on the success we’ve had to date in attracting BC Housing funding to our community by adding even more social housing units and supports while at the same time seeking to address our market housing needs as well.

Community Caring for People with Addictions Roundtable

City Council, along with other community partners, created the Community Caring for People with Addictions roundtable initiative. This roundtable is lead by the City of Quesnel, Northern Health and  BC Housing and brings together the Quesnel Shelter and Support Society, Quesnel Tillicum Society, Quesnel RCMP, Nazko First Nation, Lhtako Dene Nation, ?Esdilagh First Nation, First Nations Health Authority, Salvation Army, United Way, Cariboo Substance Users of the North (C-SUN), and People with Lived Experience (PEER).

The roundtable is designed to improve the suite of services our community provides to people with mental health and addictions issues.

Out of this roundtable, through grant funding, the City hired a Health Care Coordinator to advance the actions from the Quesnel Health Services Review (HSR).  The coordinator has been working with the group to advance recommendations from the HSR and consulting with persons with lived experience on addiction services in the community to improve services. Key actions being pursued out of HSR are:

  • Providing mobile harm reduction supports; and
  • Research need for a detox centre.

Grant funding has been obtained through work by the United Way for a Mental Health Support Worker. This position will assist people in crisis, assess their needs, and help to stabilize them by linking them to the appropriate support services.

The City has made space available in West Quesnel for a full-time mental health clinician as part of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s two-year mental health and wellness capacity-building pilot project. The clinician will be available to support the mental health and psychosocial needs of individuals who are needing that service.

Elliot Street Supportive Housing

City Council and staffed worked with BC Housing to ensure the supportive housing that met the needs of the community would be built. The project went through several amendments in the development review and land use approval phase. BC Housing received development permit approval to build a 32 unit supportive housing development on the vacant land on Elliott Street. The facility will not include emergency shelter use (short stay), nor extreme weather response use (short stay during extreme weather events).

A Good Neighbour Agreement (GNA) was entered into as a condition of the zoning amendment and housing agreement that was required to permit 32 units of supportive housing.  The GNA sets out how the facility will work with the neighbourhood and community partners to assist with the successful integration of the facility into the neighbourhood and community as a whole.  The operator will initiate the Good Neighbour Agreement Committee to ensure there are early and ongoing communications with the neighbourhood and community stakeholders.

Clean Team

The City sponsors the Clean Team to pick up discarded drug paraphernalia in Downtown and West Quesnel. The Clean Team is comprised of people who are vulnerable to homelessness or substance use (past or present) and is funded and operated by the Quesnel Shelter and Support Society.

North Cariboo Child Care Inventory and Action Plan

In partnership with the Cariboo Regional District, the City of Quesnel is taking the lead on developing an inventory and action plan for child care services in the North Cariboo.

This project will include an inventory of existing child care spaces, assess the need and set targets for additional spaces, and define an action plan to reach those targets as a community over the next decade.

What City Council is doing
UBCM Minister Meetings

The Union of BC Municipalities provides an opportunity for local governments of all sizes and from all areas of the province to come together, share their experiences and take a united position. During the annual convention, local governments make requests to Provincial ministers and public organizations. Here are the past meetings Quesnel City Council have attended:

2016 UBCM Meetings

2017 UBCM Meetings

2018 UBCM Meetings

2019 meetings have not been finalized.

Correspondence

March 2019 – Request for two additional RCMP officers

December 2018 – Provincial Minster’s reply regarding law enforcement and Crown Counsel resources

October 2018 – Provincial Minister's reply from UBCM meetings regarding the Quesnel RCMP

October 2018 – Federal Minister’s reply regarding Quesnel RCMP vacancies

June 2018 – Law Enforcement Resources

December 2017 – Transitional housing

RCMP and City relationship
RCMP and City relationship

The Quesnel RCMP is contracted through a Police Services Agreement (PSA) through the provincial and federal governments. There are 63 municipalities in B.C. that contract with the province for RCMP municipal police services.

The PSA outline the duties and responsibilities of the RCMP in financial, operational and administrative areas within the provisions of the provincial and municipal policing services. The government cost-share ratio (based on population) for Quesnel RCMP is 70% municipal and 30% federal government.

The Province establishes the level of resources, budget and policing priorities in consultation with the RCMP. The City does not have authority to change resources, budget or priorities directly.  We must submit requests in writing to the Province outlining the changes, and the reasons for the changes.

Although the City is restricted, we do work closely with the Quesnel RCMP in regular meetings including through the Public Safety and Policing Committee.

In 2019, the City submitted, to the Province, a formal request to fund two additional RCMP officers in Quesnel. According to the PSA, this could take up to one year to be complete.

What the Public can do
Write to the Premier, Prime Minister, and appropriate Ministers

The deep social issues impacting Quesnel are a result of multiple, complex problems that were not created by local governments and that are well beyond the local government’s capacity to fix. Local governments have limited powers, rights and financial resources.

City Council is using any political leverage they have to try and get changes made to the current system. If you want to see changes too, please use your political leverage pointedly and productively by taking the time to write to the Premier, Prime Minister, and appropriate Ministers.

Contact information

Prime Minister - Justin Trudeau  - justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca

Premier - John Horgan - Premier@gov.bc.ca

Ministers of Health

Ministers of Public Safety

Minster of Justice

Solicitor Generals

Attorney Generals

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Northern Health

Who should you call?

There are numerous activities that occur that need to be reported, but it can be difficult to know who to call. Use the information below or download the printable chart!

EMERGENCIES  |  9-1-1

  • Crime, health or traffic emergency

POLICE  |  250-992-9211

  • Loitering/suspicious behavior
  • Alcohol/drug use or intoxication

BYLAW  |  250-992-2111

  • Panhandling - aggressive - Information card
  • Squatter/unauthorized camping
  • Animal control - dog at large
  • Graffiti
  • Parking offences (City lot/street)
  • Smoking- Spirit Square
  • Washroom – loitering

PUBLIC WORKS  |  250-992-6330

  • Washroom - maintenance
  • Garbage/litter maintenance
  • Signage - missing/damaged/faulty
  • Road/sidewalk maintenance
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