Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pistol Packing in Prince Rupert?

Regular viewers of Prince Rupert City Council sessions may be excused if they thought perhaps they had inadvertently clicked over to a rerun of the an old TV western Monday night, at least if they had lasted through the first fifty minutes of council's more measured deliberations on rather routine matters.

During the course of the wind up to the evening's council business, Councillor Joy Thorkelson outlined some concerns that she has when it comes to some mysterious security officers reportedly packing guns at Tim Horton's in the downtown area.

"I got an email saying that there was a private security force packing a gun at Tim Horton's, they didn't pull their gun out, they were in Tim Horton's with a gun and I was wondering what our regulations are about that, I don't need to know right at this meeting but we need to know ... I am very concerned if there is a private security force in town packing guns " -- Councillor Thorkelson outlining her concerns about the possibility of armed private security forces in town

Ms. Thorkelson, seemingly has based her information for Council by relying on a pair of emails that she had apparently received, from those who say they had seen the individuals, offering up the notice of a private security force in the city apparently armed and wearing their weapons into local stores.

Listening to her second hand account of the apparent incursion in town and with a little imagination we could summon up a visual tale right out of the HBO Classic Deadwood. With the mysterious hombres perhaps bellying up to the Tim Horton's saloon, grabbing a double double and casting a steely gaze with holstered weapons in plain view.

For good measure as part of her commentary for Council, Councillor Thorkelson offered up a suggestion that the security force may be in the employ of the Port, adding the caveat to that observation that she didn't know (that for sure).

Towards her notes on the evening for council she put forward the idea that she would like to know what bylaws are in place to prohibit armed people running around town that are private security guards.

Of interest to note from her presentation is the observation that Councillor Thorkelson did not outline for Council if she had personally contacted the Prince Rupert Port Authority to verify her assumption as to who has hired the security force.

Nor did she mention if she had addressed her concerns to the local detachment of the RCMP to see if they had received any reports of the pistol packers in the downtown core and if there was any truth to story.

The story, which at this point appears to be along the lines of an unsubstantiated rumour, is something you might expect to read as part of a Facebook screed, or from one of the city's chat boards, but not as part of the information flow from the members of City Council.

Also of interest was the fact that no member of Council weighed in to perhaps urge a bit of caution at disseminating the rumour, without any factual background to back up the themes of the discussion.

And while it is a topic that if fleshed out a bit more should be of concern for Council, getting the background to the situation straight first, before raising a topic that could be potentially alarming for many in the community, might have been a better approach to the issue.

Particularly considering the current state of emotions in the community related to the ongoing situation related to Lelu Island.

As well, before Council starts spending time looking into motions related to armed security guards in the city that may or may not be of concern for the public, it might be best to have some facts on hand to learn if the situation is really an issue that needs to be dealt with and not just one of the ever famous Prince Rumours.

Following Councillor Thorkelson's remarks, the Mayor noted that he himself had not heard of that situation, (he may wish to review some of the comments found on his Facebook page, where a contributor to that information portal offered up a similar story on October 1, though again without much in the way of verification) on Monday evening the Mayor noted to Council that it was something that they should look into.

You can review Councillor Thorkelson's concerns from the City's Video archive starting at the 51 minute mark.

For more items related to City Council discussions see our archive page here.

Updates: In regard to the employment status of the guards that Ms. Thorkelson spoke about on Monday night, in an email to the North Coast Review, Michael Gurney, the Manager of Corporate Communications for the Port Authority provided the following statement:

"None of the Port's personnel, partners or contractors carry weapons of any kind. The private security firm alluded to by Ms. Thorkelson is in no way involved in port protection or affiliated with the Port of Prince Rupert"

As well, since this story was first posted this morning, the item noted above as being present on the Mayor's Facebook portal has now apparently been removed from that social media stream, without any response or comment from the Mayor.

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