I would like to take issue with the letter written by Councillor Cynthia Chen attacking the continued vigilance of the Richmond First Council candidates to promote a safe and livable community (“Richmond First fearmongering”, August 5, 2008).
I am proud of the position taken by the Richmond First candidates to make public safety and crime prevention a priority issue in the upcoming election campaign. Our city is growing fast, and with that growth comes problems that big cities face. We must act now before the public safety challenges we face become a massive problem in the years ahead. For the last three years, Council representatives Derek Dang and Bill McNulty have a long record of standing up for the issues we continue to advocate today.
In talking with friends and neighbours in our community, it’s easy to see there is a broad unease and shared concern about public safety issues. The footprints of organized crime have recently been displayed in our city with the take down of the province’s largest-ever ecstasy ring. Potential crime generators identified by the RCMP for the Canada Line “Crime Train” have not been adequately addressed. We’ve seen kidnappings and shootings right on Richmond streets. These are the facts, and for any councillor to turn a blind eye to these concerns benefits no one.
And perhaps not surprisingly, that’s just what we know about from what’s being reported. Statistics Canada defines crime rates by what is reported to police, but it’s plain to see that an ever increasing proportion of our population, almost two-thirds at last count, do not report violent and property crimes to police.
This reality is easy to see today. Many of us know, or have experienced, vandalism of our home or property, break-ins, or mail theft. How often do we report these incidences to authorities? Given the paperwork of today’s society, and the commonality of the crime, many people don’t think it’s worth the time to do the paperwork and instead simply suck it up as a cost of living and move on.
Statistics Canada’s Criminal Victimization Survey of 2004 backs up this anecdotal evidence. That survey shows crime rates, according to victims, was up 19.5% over a five year period, and 28% of Canadians over the age of 15 were at some point victims. These numbers are clearly unacceptable.
Today, many do feel that Richmond is a safe community. But we have a duty to ensure that as our city grows, we are doing whatever we can to ensure it not only remains that way, but improves as well. People are crying out for something to be done to that effect, and we need to listen, and act.
That’s what I’m willing to do, that’s what my Richmond First colleagues are committed to do.
Candidate for Council