Whistler’s former RCMP Staff Sgt., the officer who spent the past nine years at the helm of Whistler and Pemberton’s RCMP detachment, said he’s looking forward to taking some time to himself following his recent retirement.
Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair hung up his uniform for the last time on June 9, ending a 30-year career with the RCMP.
On a phone call from his home province of P.E.I., LeClair said he plans to continue doing contract work with the RCMP when he returns to B.C.
“I’m not leaving policing completely, I just won’t be the boss anymore,” he said.
Whistler has become home for LeClair since he first stepped into the role nine years ago.
“My perception of the town has changed,” he said. “When I first moved here, I looked at it as a weekend resort community, but as I became more immersed in the community, I realized it was … not just a place to go skiing on the weekends.”
Throughout his posting, LeClair has also been able to observe the common problems that ebb and flow through the resort municipality.
He said the “drug use around seasonal workers is kind of a concern,” adding that he predicts the biggest problems for Whistler and Pemberton’s RCMP officers moving forward will continue to be property crime, violent crime associated with the May long weekend and traffic safety. “That’s one thing we’ll always be concerned about with young people in the resort, is traffic safety,” he said.
He called the violence attributed to May long weekend crowds one of the biggest challenges he had to face in his role, in particular the stabbing that left a 19-year-old dead last year. However, LeClair said the weekend’s crime levels seem to be improving. “We had some success this year, fingers crossed,” he said.
Though his tenure hasn’t been without its challenges, LeClair said he’s proud of the work he and his force have done.
The former Staff Sgt. considers his fondest memory of the job to be his close relationship with Whistler Search and Rescue and Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol, in particular, “learning from them and developing Whistler’s RCMP response to missing persons in the backcountry.”
Leaving the force will no doubt be an adjustment for the RCMP veteran. “I’ll miss the routine, I’ll miss working with the team ... I’ll miss that connection, but I hope to maintain it to some degree,” he said.
Most of all, LeClair is excited to reap the benefits of his newfound free time. He said he’s looking forward to catching his breath and having some time for himself and his favourite activities, like sailing and mountain biking.
“My post retirement plan is to spend a couple months each summer in P.E.I., but my home is in Whistler. I’ll be there for the fall and early summer mountain bike seasons, and for the entire ski season as well,” he said.
Though he may be leaving his post, LeClair will undoubtedly remain a part of the community that he’s served for almost a decade. “I just want to thank the communities of Whistler and Pemberton for their support over the past nine years,” he said. “The RCMP is doing some good work, and I’m looking forward to seeing that continue.”
Sgt. Rob Knapton will serve as acting Staff Sgt. until a permanent replacement is hired.