By Lyonel Doherty
An Oliver couple fed up with crime in their community wants the Town to start using surveillance cameras in problem areas.
Michael Guthrie and Shirley Zelinski presented council with a 400-name petition on Monday calling for the use of closed-circuit TV cameras in strategic locations where crime is predominant.
Zelinski and Guthrie also presented a legal opinion from an attorney as to the use of cameras in public spaces.
Guthrie began by telling council that, contrary to popular belief, he is not a self-proclaimed crime fighter. But he is a firm believer of video surveillance to monitor crime.
The resident, who has a dozen video cameras surrounding his home, said one officer in front of a multiple-screen system can essentially police the whole town by himself.
“Most police officers believe in it wholeheartedly,” he said, noting “it allows us to get that much closer to the truth.”
The fact is there is a genuine fear of crime among the senior population in Oliver (and something has to be done about it), Guthrie pointed out.
Zelinski said there is one problem location she is aware of on the corner of the high school property on Spartan Street. She believes this is where a camera is needed.
She lauded closed-circuit surveillance, noting she doesn’t have to leave her bedroom to know what that noise was outside.
“My life has changed,” Zelinksi said, acknowledging there is crime in every town, but pointed out there is a lot of crime here.
“The more relaxed people are with it and say, well, it’s everywhere, not just here, the worse it will get.”
Zelinski said she wants to live in a rural community, a community where people smile at you even when they don’t know you.
But she said major crimes have been brewing in Oliver, adding she has traced some of the perpetrators who have gone through the local school system and now the court system in Penticton.
Mayor Ron Hovanes expressed his appreciation to the couple for coming forward and creating this engagement with the community (through the recent crime forum).
But he said there is no silver bullet to get rid of crime; if there was it would be used tomorrow by every community in North America.
“There has to be serious treatment opportunities for people when they want to get out of this cycle (of crime and addiction).”
Hovanes said harm reduction is one of the keys, and if people can’t get safe drugs they will take any drug.
The mayor said addressing this problem is not the role of small town councils. But he noted that what Guthrie and Zelinski are doing, talking to their MLA, is needed to deal with these issues.
Hovanes said he would give the petition to municipal staff for review.