Police presence in Chemainus-Crofton will be increasing. (File photo by Don Bodger)

Police presence in Chemainus-Crofton will be increasing. (File photo by Don Bodger)

Step in the right direction for Chemainus-Crofton policing

Visibility to increase, new community policing office coming in the summer

There’s been a significant development regarding the policing situation in Chemainus/Crofton.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring indicated North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Insp. Chris Bear was part of council’s meeting Wednesday when he presented his quarterly report and the Annual Performance Plan for the year.

“Part of that plan includes increased police visibility/presence in Chemainus/Crofton by dedicating a minimum of 700 hours of patrol time to the north end this year,” noted Siebring.

There was a general requirement in past APPs up to about 2016, he added, that talked generally about visibility specifically in Chemainus and that requirement was removed from the APP. Since then, community concerns have increased.

The 700 hour figure in the new APP is based on the police presence that existed under the old plan, Siebring pointed out, but the actual number of hours is slightly higher than the actual time spent in the north end.

“The other thing that’s being done to address the issue is the opening of a new Community Policing Office in Chemainus under the auspices of the Cowichan Community Policing and Engagement Society,” Siebring announced.

Location is still being finalized, but it should be open by the summer, he indicated. It will not be a police station per se, but a place where Community Policing volunteers will be available and will also include space for officers who are in the area and a desk to write reports and carry out other office duties.

There will also be an opportunity for officers to don red serge and engage with tourist traffic as time permits post-pandemic.

Insp. Bear committed to doing more community engagement on the issue in the coming months. Plans right now are for online engagement, but could lead to face-to-face meetings as COVID restrictions ease.

“To that end, I’m going to suggest to him that perhaps we try this new model for a few months, and revisit it with the community engagement in the fall, when we’ve had a chance to gauge how this is working out, and when there might be a chance that we could do the engagement in person rather than virtually,” noted Siebring.

“I know this won’t make everyone happy, but I consider it a step in the right direction, and I would ask that we all give this proposal a chance.”

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North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. (File photo)

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. (File photo)