Port Edward councillors raise safety concerns surrounding work camps

How prepared is Port Edward to handle an influx of camp workers and potential social issues related to work camps?

How prepared is Port Edward to handle an influx of camp workers and potential social issues related to work camps?

That was the concern raised by councillors James Brown and Grant Moore during the Jan. 13 meeting of council, pointing to their own experience with work camps.

“I want to make sure Port Edward will be involved in policing and monitoring and have solutions before it happens … in Nass Camp, some things got out of hand,” said Brown, noting drug and alcohol use and an increase in crime can accompany an influx of transient workers.

“I have a brother who goes from camp to camp in his profession. They are always supposed to be ‘zero tolerance’ camps, but it never happens,” added Moore.

Both Moore and Brown said the solution for Port Edward, which is somewhat removed from immediate RCMP response, would be to turn to the private sector for security.

“I think we should be hitting up the big companies coming in to put a private security company in place to patrol the community in the evening hours so we don’t have to rely on the RCMP,” said Moore, adding security at the camp site is simply not adequate.

“If we wait for a camp to come and bring security, that security doesn’t cover our town because it is on-site only.”

Noting that private security firms don’t have the authority to patrol the town, which rests with the RCMP, Mayor Dave MacDonald said this type of discussion has been taking place with camp proponents for years on end.

“We have had ongoing talks because we care about Port Edward … we have been bringing this up to companies all the time. We have been going to police to seek better service for Port Edward even the last time you were on council three years ago. We have not just been sitting in the dark for three years,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe work camps are as bad as some make them out to be.

“I don’t believe everyone who come here will be a drug addict or alcoholic. They are here to get money, just as you [Brown] did when you went up north … you can’t blame everything on people who are coming to town for a job.”

To address some concerns of Brown and Moore, council will be inviting Civeo and Black Diamond Camps to a future meeting to discuss their plans for security.