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'Incredible' ports here have no police force, says Delta mayor

Harvie is hoping to make a presentation to the port’s board on the issue
Mayor George Harvie says it makes little sense that the Port of Seattle has its own police department while there is none for B.C. including Deltaport. File photo

They’re likely finding just a small portion of what’s going through the port and fuelling the drug crises, says Delta Mayor George Harvie regrading major seizures announced by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Noting the CBSA does outstanding work, but requires more resources, especially with the port authority’s planned major expansion of the Deltaport container terminal, Harvie reiterated his concerns regarding crime following the CBSA’s announcement June 14 of seizures of more than 6,330 kg of methamphetamines over the past six months.

Harvie pointed to ports in other jurisdictions including just down the I5 in Seattle that have their own dedicated police forces.

“Good work on them (CBSA). They’re so underfunded. When I was back in Ottawa (with a City of Delta and Metro Vancouver delegation) we brought up with every minister our concern and every one did not know there was not a police presence. Chief (Neil) Dubord and I are arranging a trip to go down next month to Seattle to visit their port. They have just under 200 police officers dedicated to port work,” he said.

“Police intelligence in B.C. shows our port is a conduit for meth to come up from South America, and also firearms as well as an exit for a large number of stolen vehicles. We have all this happening, and no police presence whatsoever. I find that incredible,” Harvie added.

Also chair of Metro Vancouver, Harvie noted “a unified attack” on illegal activity in port facilities is required, adding that the CBSA’s Tsawwassen inspection facility, which opened four years ago, is a good step.

He said other provincial mayors are in agreement on the issue, which will be raised at this year’s Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention.

“It’s time local governments stood up and said, ‘Hey, this is affecting everyone. We have an addiction problem in this province and we need to do more to cut off the supply of illegal drugs.’ I’ve also talked to our Metro Vancouver port representative about getting together and setting a meeting up and I hope to make a presentation to the (Port of Vancouver) board,” he said.

Three years ago, the city put forward a motion at the UBCM convention asking that the provincial and federal governments work together to re-establish a port policing or equivalent agency at the Roberts Bank container terminal and at all ports in B.C.

The Ports Canada Police was disbanded in 1997, leaving municipal police to patrol docks and ports, provincial government money laundering investigator, Peter German noted in a report at the time. German warned the lack of a dedicated port police could be allowing large numbers of stolen vehicles to slip out of Canada.

A 2011 Public Safety Canada report concluded that Canada’s three largest ports – Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax – are the most vulnerable to inbound and outbound smuggling, citing container traffic volume as a key reason for the ports’ appeal to smugglers.