Coquitlam RCMP’s officer-in-charge may have stepped into her new role this summer but Port Coquitlam city council is already taking aim at Supt. Annette Fellner for her absence at its civic meetings.
Tuesday afternoon, at the end of the first committee-of-council meeting following the summer break, Mayor Brad West and finance and budget liaison Coun. Dean Washington criticized Supt. Fellner for not attending and for failing to sending a senior officer from the detachment to appear in her place.
Chief administration officer Kristen Dixon told the committee she had spoken with Fellner, who had asked Dixon if her presence was required given the agenda items: applications for a rezoning and two development permits as well as proposed policy changes to allow the production of cannabis extract.
But several other issues relating to policing also cropped up in councillors’ reports, including vaping, homelessness, challenges around the shelter at 3030 Gordon Ave. and methadone delivery at a clinic nearby.
As well, community safety liaison Coun. Steve Darling voiced concern about the city’s community police manager, Candice Critchlow, not being invited to be part of the RCMP’s back-to-school preparations.
“I don’t think it’s Ms. Dixon’s job to chase them around and get them to do their job,” West said of Fellner’s meeting absence, noting he had met with Fellner to talk about the level of service PoCo expects and “I made it very clear the communication with Port Coquitlam council has been deficient.”
The mayor added, “It’s a serious concern to everyone on city council.”
West also suggested Coquitlam receives better service than PoCo although both cities pay the same amount based on population: PoCo’s policing budget is $15.7 million this year, with $12.7 million for the RCMP contract, $2.8 million for the public safety building and $126,200 for community policing.
“We give them the most money out of anyone in the city,” Washington said. “I’m not happy with the level of service we are getting from the RCMP. It’s been proven time and time again that the message is lost.”
Dixon said she would ask Fellner or her designate to attend future committee and council meetings.
In an emailed statement to The Tri-City News today (Wednesday), Fellner said public safety concerns in PoCo are a “top priority for me and the Coquitlam RCMP senior management.”
“I am always available to discuss police service delivery, public and community safety or other policing issues that need our attention. As soon as I'm notified, I make it a priority to make sure we attend all council and committee meetings where those topics are discussed."