The City of Delta held its third virtual town hall meeting Thursday since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
Hosted on Facebook and Instagram, Mayor George Harvie was joined once again by Delta police Chief Neil Dubord with this week’s special guest Delta South MLA Ian Paton.
The three civic leaders answered a variety of questions from the public including several on policing and crime in the community, and agricultural and farming issues posed to Paton, while Harvie emphasized the messaging around social distancing as well, spoke about the impacts to Delta staff as 500 employees were laid off during the week.
Below is a selection of the questions asked and answered.
For a full re-cap of the session, log onto the Delta Optimist’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/TheDeltaOptimist.
Q: Can you touch on the rumour about Delta police officers ticketing individuals who are driving in a car with two or more people?
A: “Many police forces, including Delta across the country are facing these types of rumours on social media. There is no truth to us being able to enforce two or more people being in a car,” said Dubord. “In fact we have no enforcement powers at all under the provincial health act. We wouldn’t know what to charge them with, what kind of fine, so at this point in time Delta police have or will not give out any tickets.
“We are still doing traffic enforcement and keeping our public safe, but that is around traffic concerns.
Q: Is there enough labour available to support farmers and processing plants during this crisis?
A: “I was on a conference call this morning with my political party, which we do three times a week and this morning they asked me to speak on seasonal agricultural workers coming up from Jamaica and Central America,” said Paton. “This is a huge issue. At first the federal government said they couldn’t come in and then a few days later said they are allowed in and we can bring up these workers. The problem is a lot of those airports are closed, so there is actually no way to get them on airplanes and get them up. If they do come, they have to go through a very stringent and lengthy screening process before and after they get off the plane in B.C. to go to work. The question now is while many in B.C. are unemployed right now, would there be work on a farm? The answer is yes, there are many farmers in Delta that maybe looking for help in the planting season coming up.”
Q: Are there any cases of COVID-19 within the Delta police department?
A:“At this point in time we have not had any cases with our police officers or employees with COVID-19,” said Dubord. “However, we expect at one point in time, we are prepared if that should happen. Our front line officers are at risk for sure, but we have the proper protocols and measures in place, the support for the officers and families and we have given them the equipment to protect themselves.”
Q: Are scams increasing?
A: “The Delta police have an integrated team that works with RCMP who have a dedicated team looking into all the scams around COVID-19,” said Dubord. “Trying to minimalize any additional anxiety around not only being possibly sick, but also someone who is taking advantage of others who are sick at this time. We hope to have more details on this in the coming days with regards to our work with the RCMP on this.”
Q: Have the DPD seen an increase in residential B&Es?
A: “This week we have seen it turn the table,” said Dubord. “The week previous to this we were seeing some increases, especially in commercial B&Es, but this week it has gone the other way and we are down about 30 per cent in total from where we could usually see it at this time of year. Whether it is just more people staying inside, more people being isolated, more people with a social conscious, it is certainly a trend I want to see continuing.”
Q: Is the agriculture industry concerned about the need to be deemed an essential service?
A:“All sides are working closely together to make sure we get through this,” said Paton. “I put forward recommendations being the agriculture critic for the BC Liberal Party. Farmers need to have access to seed and fertilizer. There are many agriculture products that need to be available. When it comes right down to it, we are asked to stay at home, stay away from each other, wash our hands, but every day we need to eat, so we have to make sure that our agricultural products are in the ground, growing this spring, so we have fresh vegetables on our shelves and meat in our grocery stores this summer and fall.”