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RCMP expresses concern about drug use on Ladysmith’s downtown streets

Staff sergeant and town council discuss policing priorities for the next year

Issues related to drug use on Ladysmith’s streets will be the top policing priority for Ladysmith RCMP in the coming year.

Ladysmith town council and Ladysmith RCMP Staff Sgt. Wes Olsen, at a committee of the whole meeting on May 9, discussed issues the detachment faced over the past year, and what changes need to be made for the future.

In an e-mailed report submitted to the town before the meeting, Olsen noted that the detachment’s top policing priority is patrolling the downtown core “due to the homeless shelter and the clientele it attracts.” He said officers are hearing more complaints of open drug use and discarded drug paraphernalia from downtown businesses since hard drugs were decriminalized in B.C. earlier this year.

“It’s hard to challenge these people who are openly consuming drugs in a public place,” said Olsen at the meeting. “It’s kind of ironic that you can’t walk downtown with an open beer but you can consume hard drugs on a street corner and there’s not much, if anything, the police can do.”

He mentioned that putting a bylaw in place about open drug use would allow police “to at least have some conversations with people.” Mayor Aaron Stone agreed with the bylaw idea, and plans to talk more about it at a future meeting.

Another policing priority will be prevention of online scams and frauds. Olsen mentioned that Ladysmith is not immune to an uptick of cases of fraud and scams on the Island, especially ‘sextortion,’ in which victims are coerced into sharing intimate images of themselves online or on social media to a stranger, only to be blackmailed once the other party receives the photos.

“There’s almost a new scam every day,” the staff sergeant said.

At a recent meeting at the seniors centre, Olsen passed out pamphlets and links for seniors to learn about the potential dangers on the internet, he also said a victim services coordinator recently spoke to high-school students about the problem as well.

Stone said he was happy with the priorities that were put forward, and he hopes the town will continue to work with the RCMP to help resolve these issues.

READ MORE: Ladysmith councillors recommend ban on single-use plastics

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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