Rural location causes potential challenges in local policing

 | February 2, 2022
Photo: Because the rural RCMP detachment covers a large area, they cannot always respond right away. Photo Dreamstime.

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) Mayor Al Raine said he is happy with the level of police presence in Sun Peaks, despite the RCMP not always being able to come up the mountain when called. Sun Peaks falls under the jurisdiction of the Tk’emlúps Rural RCMP detachment, based in Kamloops, approximately 45 minutes away. 

In a council meeting on Jan. 18, Nicky Jonsson, SPMRM’s director of corporate services, said there was recently an instance of a snowmobile doing donuts on public roads. The RCMP were called, but refused to respond unless they knew who the owner of the snowmobile was or where they were staying.

“We’ve actually had a couple issues with RCMP not being able to respond to some of our calls, but I am following up with the Staff Sgt. in Kamloops on that issue,” Jonsson said in the meeting. 

Raine said there are police in Sun Peaks during major events, and that typically the RCMP are good at following up with the municipality. But because the rural detachment covers a large area, Raine said they cannot always respond right away.

“There are moments when there may be some serious crime going on somewhere else,” said Raine. “They get a call to come to Sun Peaks and they look at it and say, you know, it’s not a matter of life or death. And we’re so strapped on more important issues, we can’t make it up.”

In regards to the snowmobile incident, Raine said he understood their decision to not respond without further details, especially if they were busy in the rural detachment. 

“By the time they get here, the snowmobile may be 10 kilometres away from the street, in the backcountry or neatly tucked in someone’s garage,” said Raine. “I’m certain, you know, they would have come up, maybe not immediately, but within days to talk to the owner if we could identify who it was.”

Raine said there has been discussion about full-time police presence in Sun Peaks, but the costs would amount to just under $200,000 per officer. To have 24 hour policing they would need at least three officers, which Raine said would create a 30 per cent increase in the municipal budget and therefore is unaffordable.

Based on police incident reports, Raine said there is not enough serious crime in the area to warrant a permanent police presence.

“There’s the odd nuisance issue, but if you look at past reports, serious crime is very few,” said Raine. “There’s a few speeding and things like that, but nothing that would make you think we need immediate police presence because there’s some public danger.”

The municipality no longer receives local crime reports from the RCMP however, Jonsson said she has been in contact with the Staff Sgt. to see if they can start getting the reports again on a regular basis.

In case of more serious crime, there are surveillance cameras set up at the entrance and exit to Sun Peaks. Raine said they were implemented about six years ago after a string of break-ins in the community.

“There’s always that little risk because we do have a number of homes in subdivisions where maybe six or eight homes in a row are not occupied by full time residents,” said Raine. “Therefore that street or that part of the community is very quiet in October or November, and thieves start thinking that may be a good time to come up to Sun Peaks.”

Raine said the cameras are not always monitored. They are only looked at if there is an incident, so the municipality can help police track vehicles and licence plates if needed. 

“I can only assure the community it is a good step for making sure we have the ability to monitor who’s coming in and out,” said Raine. “But generally, I think we’ve been pretty happy with the [level of] police presence.”