Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 13, 2009

Government inaction blamed for closure

There is not enough money, not enough bodies and not enough support from government to keep Crime Prevention Yukon running, its board and staff members said today.

By Justine Davidson on February 13, 2009 at 8:33 pm

There is not enough money, not enough bodies and not enough support from government to keep Crime Prevention Yukon running, its board and staff members said today.

The board of directors of the non-profit society made the decision to dissolve the organization last month. It took out an ad in today’s newspaper to announce the end of its 14-year mission to reduce crime in the territory through education, community involvement and cooperation, stating:

“Prolonged limited funding opportunities and a lack of collaborative support, as well as human capacity issues and bleak expectation of future opportunities have led the board ... to decide to cease operations.”

“The board was very reluctant to vote and pass this,” treasurer Marlene Koppang said today. “But we felt we had no choice.”

The society has done its fair share of education and community building over the past decade and a half, through projects like the Vital Communities Program, and the summer and winter youth activity and leadership programs it runs every year.

But as the society enters its final weeks of operation, it appears cooperation from the Yukon government and government agencies was not forthcoming.

“We have tried to get core funding especially from the Yukon government,” and from all levels of government,” Koppang said. “I don’t think even the federal government seems to be too concerned about crime at the moment.”

The one level of government that was consistently supportive was the City of Whitehorse, she added.

“I know that they wished they could give us more.”

Because the society received no core funding, money guaranteed over the course of its life, staff at Crime Prevention Yukon (CPY) were constantly applying for funds for their next project.

“Most of the time they require you to come up with something new,” CPY executive director Ryn Bunicich said today. “So even if you have a successful program, you have to come up with something else, you have to reinvent the wheel every time.

“It meant the organization was always in its infancy,” he said. “Without core funding we could not grow, we could not build on what we already had.”

When Bunicich took on his position a year and a half ago, he said he was met with a disappointing reception from the powers that be.

“The first time I met with high-ranking officials with Yukon government, I was told that sometimes it’s right for an organization to close its doors…. Since then there have been substantial delays on our applications for funding.”

Basically, he said, they’ve been getting the run-around.

Last summer, Bunicich sent a request for funds to the Department of Health and Social Services, and was told, after a period of weeks, that the request should be made to the Department of Justice instead.

Bunicich had made an application to Justice a couple months earlier, in March, but never heard back from the department, so he made another in November. He said he has received no response on that one either.

“When we opened one door, another was closed in our face,” Koppang said.

A spokesperson for the department, Natasha Phillips, said that CPY received approximately $125,000 a year from Justice, That number does fluctuate, she said, because of the funding arrangement described above.

That number includes “in kind” contributions such as a dollar-a-year lease on the CPY building at 205 Rogers St. The society pays for its own heat, utilities and maintenance.

“We appreciate the work they’ve done,” Phillips said. She was not aware of any intention on the part of Justice to stop funding the CPY or to discourage them from continuing to operate.

The government will ensure the services currently provided by CPY will continue, she said, but did not know what organization or agency will run the orphaned programs.

The society comes under the purview of Lesley Carberry, the government’s director of crime prevention and policing. She was not available for comment before press time today.

But money hasn’t been the society’s only source of angst.

Both Koppang and Bunicich cited a lack of participation from the RCMP as part of the problem. The police stopped sharing crime statistics with the society, and the public, in 2004. That decision falls in line with the government’s overall attitude around crime, Bunicich said.

“There has not been the willingness to address the crime prevention problems,” he said.

People power was another problem. According to the CPY’s bylaws, its board must contain at least five members. Currently it has only three, and board president Joshua Robinson plans to resign with the fast-approaching birth of his daughter.

Robinson was unable to comment on the society’s dissolution because he recently became an employee of the Department of Justice, and as such finds himself in a conflict of interests.

Koppang said that in trying to recruit new members, the board was constantly in competition with other non-profits.

“It seems this town has a lot of organizations who need people, and there just aren’t enough who can volunteer their time.” 

The decision to close was difficult for everyone, Koppang repeated, and a loss for the community.

“To start it up again will be very difficult,” she said. “If anyone decides to do it, they will be scratching at the ground to do it.”

For Bunicich, the closure is a symptom of the Yukon government’s unwillingness to deal with the territory’s growing crime problems.

“They need to pull up the wagon and come up with some sort of strategy to address the problems that we have.

“It looks to me that there is simply not the interest on their side to do that.”

CommentsAdd a comment

Francias Pillman

Feb 14, 2009 at 1:12 am

And what does this organization prevent in the first place?

Kevin coswan

Feb 14, 2009 at 5:08 am

So a moderator approves all comments.  Hope this is up to snuff.

May I suggest the following…Mr/Mrs/Ms. Moderator.

A…VERY SAVVY…investigative newspaper reporter is NEEDED to do a lot of homework and reporting on this issue.  Funding for crime prevention yukon, seems to be front and center, but possibly we should also be looking on the empire building that is occuring within the bigger system.  A case in point is the 1 square mile area that exists south of Hastings st. and east of Main st. in Vancouver, BC.  That area…ALONE…has created an official government empire that burns thru 500 million cdn $ per year on crime prevention and its follow up services. 

Official Government reports have indicated that over 5 billion $‘s has been spent/wasted, in this area, on many and all levels of crime prevention, follow up, and nothing has changed or improved.  Budget $‘s directed towards the different government departments and citizen groups has been added up, exposing overspending, utilization problems, and benefit problems.  Analysis has yielded no improvement in combating crime.

Once dollars are in play, especially when steady $‘s are supplied year after year…we end up with official empires that are hard to dismantle even though they may not accomplish anything.  Some reporting has actually exposed many shades of AGENDA…with resultant backlash towards the reporter. 

I will not get into the details of this problem that now seems to exist in many cities Canada wide.  Sometimes we as a society should share the TAX PIE a little more evenly, hence maybe to reduce some of the BITTERNESS that promotes and encourages crime.  I will also suggest a simple approach of “follow the inter-government budgets, their individual success rates, and their qualifications, and their agendas”...possibly encouraging citizen and elected official oversite and direction…Do an audit of the whole costing from the top down.  Hopefully there will be a few pennies left over to allow the CPY program to continue on in the Yukon.  The CPY is a needed and a worthy cause.

I have worked in the Yukon from time to time.  I have known many good men and women from the Yukon. Even met some of the old pioneers now long gone.  The Yukon is a place we all go to live and build our dreams.  It is the solid Yukoner, and the elder pioneers..old and modern…men and women…that truly care for the Yukon and its many citizens.  Especially to care for those citizens that may be gravitating towards crime.  Each and everyone of us has good and bad in us…and it doesn’t take much to keep that goodness flowing.  I have seen both good and bad, and at ALL levels of society.  Sometimes it just needs a little investigating reporting to put everything on the table for all to see clearly and to act accordingly.  All the best.

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