The Winds of Change committee is not tackling the issue of public intoxication, despite Pemberton's assertions to the contrary.
That, at least, is according to Pemberton RCMP Sgt. Eric Rochette, who said he's never encountered the issue at any of the meetings he's attended.
"I've been to like three or four meetings, this hasn't come up," he said. "It was discussed at town council meetings."
Rochette's statement comes after concerns about public intoxication came up in public input sessions aimed at updating the Pemberton's Official Community Plan. Speak Up Pemberton! was a series of discussions where the village asked citizens how they wanted to see their community develop in the future.
An unidentified participant at one of the sessions repeatedly raised the issue of public intoxication and said that drunk people were limiting public access to Pemberton parks. A participant at the same session also wrote that it's "not with community values to have drunks wandering the streets in public."
The Village of Pemberton responded at the time by saying that the OCP review would incorporate the work of initiatives such as the Winds of Change to guide future design of parks.
Mayor Jordan Sturdy, responding to the issue as it appeared in OCP feedback last week, said he understands concerns about public intoxication but said it's not an "overwhelming issue" that the village has identified as part of public input.
"There's a whole gamut of things," he said. "People tend to look at that area for improvements, or areas of particular concern.
"It's identified as a concern, that's what the whole Winds of Change is focused on, is alcohol and drug addiction. It's a challenging issue to deal with in a positive and humane way, and this is why... the WOC is working on it among other things."
But as Rochette tells it, that very committee is not tackling the issue at all.
"I know it was mentioned before I got here," he said. "If you want to do a location where they could sober up, they would need to find a place to put them and who's going to take care of them and there's liability issues. It was discussed before I got here but I think it's been put on the sidetrack for now."
Rochette added that there are not that many people who are walking around intoxicated in Pemberton's downtown area. He said he's identified about eight to 10, a "small group of repeat offenders" with addiction problems.
"We try to patrol the parks as much as we can," he said. "If they can't take care of themselves, under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, we can arrest for well being, so that's usually what we do.
"Basically, if they can't take care of themselves, we take them to the office here, put them in cells, keep them until they're sober enough to take care of themselves and then they're released. And it's at the discretion of the officer, a fine can be issued of about $115."
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