One nurse, one badge, one car

Someone is in severe emotional distress. The police are called. An unmarked police cruiser pulls up and the doors open. A cop gets out

Good morning, everybody.

Jeremy here with some friendly advice to Oxford Heights commuters: expect delays on Shaughnessy this week as they close the stretch between Lougheed Highway and Patricia Avenue for paving. The city recommends re-routing via Flint or Oxford streets.

Also: Ioco Road’s going to be down to one lane this week around the April Road intersection. 


Coming up we have a look at policing and mental health but first, if you’ll forgive me, I want to climb on my soapbox and talk about what happened at Town Centre Park in Coquitlam this weekend.

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Port Moody real estate agent Gina Chong and her friend were out for a stroll when a woman asked them to take her phone and snap a picture. Quite rightly, they said no, and that’s about the time the woman went from asking for a favour to blaming her neighbours for the global pandemic.

“It came from your country,” she informed them, simultaneously fashioning herself an epidemiologist and the arbiter of who is and isn’t Canadian.

The caught-on-camera incident was as casually stupid and cruel as you might expect but it’s important we pay attention. After all, it happened here. 

It’s easy to think of racism as something that happens in other countries and other cities, but it’s here. Sometimes it’s buried in history or hidden behind a smile, but it’s here, which is why we have to address it.

Thank you to Gina Chong for documenting an all-too common occurrence and for posting the video. But thanks also to the bystander who yelled: “Don’t be a racist. We all bleed the same!” With just few words she was no longer a bystander. She was an ally and, hopefully, an example.

Someone is in severe emotional distress. The police are called.

​​An unmarked police cruiser pulls up and the doors open. A cop gets out wearing a uniform that’s less militaristic than customary. The cop’s partner isn’t a police officer but a mental health nurse. Together, they go in.

A new program: That’s the RCMP’s vision for a mental health mobile unit in Coquitlam, similar to the Car 67 program in Surrey, explained RCMP Supt. Insp. Andrew Martin.

  • “Here’s something that everybody’s on side,” Martin said, discussing the issue with Port Coquitlam council last week. It’s an idea the RCMP has brought to Fraser Health.

The stumbling block: Fraser Health will not dispatch mental health practitioners to Coquitlam RCMP, predicted Coun. Steve Darling.

  • “As much as I think this is a great idea . . . I just don’t think they have the capacity to do it,” Darling said of Fraser Health.

Between the opioid crisis and the pandemic, Fraser Health has “a lot on their plate,” Martin acknowledged.

  • “They are doing what they can with us and we’ll take all the training they can get and more,” he said.

By the (best possible) numbers:

  • In 2019, Coquitlam RCMP responded to 1,108 mental health calls, approximately three per day.
  • 10 percent of those calls involved a weapon, most often a knife.
  • In cases that involved apprehension, police officers spent an average of 110 minutes at the hospital.

Undercounting: Simon Fraser University professor Rylan Simpson, who presented the figures, suggested they likely underestimated the number of total calls related to mental health.

  • Martin emphasized the need to “soften” the uniform of an officer responding to a mental health call.

“We look very tactical now,” he said. “We’re carrying a gun, we have a Taser we have the big bulletproof vest and we have magazines all over it.” While officers do undergo some mental health training while cadets, that training is “very limited,” Martin told council.

Martin also called for officers to do foot patrols and talk to people who need mental health services.

“Let’s not wait for that call to come in to be a police call,” he said.

The federal government needs to make a stronger commitment to people who depend on braille, e-books and audiobooks.

That was the takeaway Tuesday as Port Coquitlam council voted to petition Ottawa to provide sustainable funding for the organizations that produce those accessible reading materials.

Cuts possible: Without long-term funding, the National Network for Equitable Library Services could face a 50 percent cut to production. That could result in a “devastating impact” on the organization’s ability to get reading material to the people who need it, according to Coun. Nancy McCurrach, who submitted the motion.

McCurrach noted that a failure to provide funding would strain other levels of government.

  • “The fear is, is that if it ever did happen, downloading would . . . start to roll backwards from the federal to the provincial and, heaven forbid, back to the municipal level.”

A big thank you: McCurrach, a cornea transplant recipient, also expressed her gratitude to anonymous donors during the meeting as Mayor Brad West proclaimed April 18-24 National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week.

What’s happening: Beginning today, family matters and civil disputes involving more than $35,000 will be handled in Port Coquitlam instead of New Westminster, according to a release from the province.

Why the change? Sending Tri-Cities residents to New Westminster was making it hard for residents to get timely access to justice, a problem exacerbated by the pandemic, according to the province.

  • The B.C. Supreme Court will operate in three courtrooms at the Mary Hill Road building, according to the release.

Criminal jury trials will remain at New Westminster Law Courts.

Business closures between April 12 and 14

  • Fitness World Suter Brook in Port Moody 
  • Western Canada Coatings in Port Coquitlam
  • McDonalds on Ottawa Street in Port Coquitlam
  • The Keg Steakhouse and Bar on Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam
  • Joey Coquitlam on Lougheed Highway

School exposures: 46 exposures in 21 schools between April 6 and 12 including six exposures at  Heritage Woods Secondary. Schools are listed alphabetically 

Birchland Elementary, Centennial Secondary, Central Community Elementary, Eagle Mountain Middle, Ecole Citadel Middle, Ecole Dr. Charles Best Secondary, Ecole Glen Elementary,  Ecole Glenayre Elementary, Ecole Kilmer Elementary, Ecole Pitt River Middle,  Ecole Rochester Elementary,  Ecole Riverside Secondary, Gleneagle Secondary ,  Heritage Woods Secondary,  Hillcrest Middle, Minnekhada Middle,  Pinetree Secondary,  Pinetree Way Elementary,  Summit Middle, Suwa’lkh School,  Terry Fox Secondary

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In other news

In other news

So, you’ve seen the coot, the bald eagle and the ring-necked duck (sounds like my last family reunion) and now you want to see new birds in new places but – being a good person – you’re stuck at home.

Well, thanks to 15-year-old Coquitlam birder Adam Dhalla you can virtually travel to birdwatching spots across North America with Find the Birds.

The free educational game was designed to help birders and gamers explore new habitats and get a better understanding of key conservation issues.

Speaking to CBC recently, Dhalla explained his interest.

“These wonderful lives of these birds that we see every single day is fascinating to me,” he said.

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