Drug use and domestic disputes on the rise on Capilano reserve
Complaints of drug use and domestic disputes were up on the North Shore’s Capilano reserve last year while all other crimes appeared to be in decline.
That’s according to the West Vancouver Police Department’s 2011 crime statistics comparing last year’s police call-outs to the previous five-year average.
The crime stats divide the Squamish Nation’s Capilano reserve into two areas, commercial and residential. The commercial zone is the high-traffic Park Royal South shopping centre lands south of Marine Drive between the Capilano River to the east and Rutledge Field to the west.
The residential area is everything east of the Capilano River as far as Whonoak Road, south of Marine Drive. That’s where the majority of the Capilano reserve’s 2,500 residents live — only one-third of whom identify as aboriginal, two-thirds as non-aboriginal.
In the commercial zone, police saw a 49-per-cent rise in the number of drug-related charges over the five-year average, with a total of 22 drug offences in 2011 compared to the annual average of 15. All other reported crimes were down at Park Royal South, with property crimes like theft and vandalism — always the most prevalent crimes in the area — dropping by 16 per cent over previous years.
Violent crime was also down 12 per cent in the commercial zone and general assistance calls were down by one-third from 191 calls on average to just 128 in 2011.
Overall, calls for police response to the Park Royal South area were down two per cent from an average of 1,596 calls to 1,565 last year.
However, the same was not true of the Capilano reserve’s largely residential area to the east, where total calls for service were up a staggering 22 per cent from the usual 799-per-year to 921 in 2011.
The rise in call-outs to the Capilano neighbourhood is partially attributable to a 10-per-cent increase in non-assault domestic dispute calls, while other crimes like property crimes and drug offences were down more than 30 per cent in the area.
The whole Capilano reserve accounts for about six per cent of West Vancouver’s total population and 16 per cent of calls for assistance from the West Vancouver Police Department, making the reserve one of West Van’s crime hotspots.
“This area would be higher than some other areas, taking into consideration as well that Park Royal South is a higher area of traffic,” West Vancouver police crime analyst Michelle Brander told a March 7 police board meeting. “The area as a whole — as you can see in the totals compared to the overall — accounts for a significant portion of what we’re responding to.”
In fact, the Capilano reserve suffers disproportionately from all types of crime, accounting for 29 per cent of all violent crime in West Van, 24 per cent of all property crime, 22 per cent of general assistance calls and 15 per cent of West Van’s drug calls.
The Capilano residential area was the source of 29 per cent of West Van’s non-assault domestic dispute calls in 2011.
“When you look at the area of domestic disputes, it’s still disproportionately higher compared to the rest of the community,” West Van police chief Peter Lepine told the police board meeting. “But the resolve is there by the police department and the community to deal with those systemic issues that tend to lead to those calls.”
Calling his Capilano neighbourhood a “mirror image” of what goes on in the wider communities of West Vancouver and Metro Van, Squamish Chief Byron Joseph thanked the West Vancouver Police Department, the RCMP and the combined task force of the Integrated First Nations Unit for their work on the reserve.
“We don’t agree with drugs in our community or anything for that matter because it’s a bother to all of us,” Joseph said. “That’s why we choose to collaborate together because we know there is strength in numbers and we can’t allow these guys to take over our neighbourhoods.”