Pemberton 'very safe': RCMP

Year-end crime stats show little change from 2007, once festival data separated

Pemberton is a "very safe" community, RCMP officers told the Village of Pemberton Council in presenting quarterly and year-end crime statistics at Council's Tuesday (Jan. 20) meeting.

RCMP Insp. Norm McPhail and Sgt. Blake MacLeod assured Council that Pemberton doesn't have the crime rates that other communities do, and ranks well in Statistics Canada comparisons.

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"Pemberton is very safe," McPhail said, noting that even making comparisons within the corridor, Pemberton has lower crime rates than Whistler and Squamish.

The officers were responding to questions from Councillor Susie Gimse, also the director of Electoral Area C for the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD). She said she couldn't tell from the Pemberton RCMP service area statistics on their own whether Pemberton is "considered a relatively crime-free community."

The 2008 year-end statistics show that when the incidents during the period of the Pemberton Festival are extracted, the number of offences in every category remained virtually the same as in 2007.

The local RCMP held 199 prisoners in 2007, and 258 in 2008, according to the report. But the latter figure includes the 68 prisoners held during the Pemberton Festival, making 190 the total for the portion of the year when 40,000 people weren't in the area for the music festival.

There were 19 incidences of theft under $5,000 in 2007 and 20 in 2008, including two during the festival; 2007 saw two incidences of theft over $5,000 and four in 2008, including two during the festival.

In the break-and-enter category, 2008 saw 10 incidents with businesses, including two during the festival, compared to seven in 2007, while residences had eight break-ins in 2008, including one during the festival, and six in 2007.

The drug-related charges, including possession of marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy, all remained virtually the same as in 2007, with the exception of the Pemberton Festival period.

McPhail stressed that the Pemberton Festival was a relatively safe event, and the numbers reflect what happens when there is such an influx of people.

Considering that Pemberton became a town of more than 40,000 for the festival period, MacLeod said, "I don't think the stats are any greater than any other town of that size."

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy noticed the decline in motor vehicle incidents that led to fatalities, with four in 2007 dropping to one in 2008. The number of motor vehicle incidents with damage over $1,000 dropped from 39 in 2007 to 35 in 2008.

"That's going in the right direction," Sturdy said. MacLeod credited the vigilant work by local members.

Industrial park bylaws move ahead

The bylaws that will increase the variety of uses permitted in the Pemberton Industrial Park, including conditional business and professional offices, moved one step closer to completion, as Council gave them third reading on Monday.

The previous Council had moved to take office use out of the bylaws, but reversed that decision after a public hearing at which a majority of the attendees spoke firmly in favour of allowing offices in the industrial park.

At a Dec. 17 public hearing about the latest version of the bylaws, Cam McIvor said the businesses in the industrial park employ about 280 people, and the bylaws would help encourage new business and support many of the existing operations.

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