The West End-coal Harbour Community Policing Centre (CPC) is moving back to its former office in the Davie Village after less than a year on Davie near Denman St.
The CPC originally serviced only the Davie Village, but after expanding its territory last year to include the entire West End and Coal Harbour, the CPC board hoped to find a larger, more centrally located office.
In September 2005, the CPC moved from its tiny headquarters attached to the Shopper’s Drug Mart store at 1125 Davie St, to a much larger space at 1750 Davie St. But that new space is now undergoing renovations and the landlords have notified the CPC board that the rent will increase sharply once construction is complete.
“We were told they want market rent, but we can’t afford that,” says Vince Marino, CPC board president. “It’s very difficult to find permanent space in the West End.”
Shopper’s Drug Mart has offered the CPC its old space rent-free, as it did before the move last September. Although the office lacks a street-front presence and is really too small for the CPC’s needs, it will allow the CPC to stay open while it searches for new digs. Marino says the money the CPC will save in rent will be re-budgeted by the board and that services will not be impacted by the move. CPC volunteers were in the process of moving back in as Xtra West went to press.
“The area [the CPC covers] is so large that a more central location would be better,” Marino says, “but it should not make a difference. Our patrols go all over. What we need is for the West End and Coal Harbour have a police presence. What’s key is that people are aware of where the CPC office is, how to get in contact with us, and what services we provide.”
But Ron Stipp, of West Enders Against Violence Everywhere (WEAVE), believes queers need a community policing centre in their own neighbourhood. “In the long term, I really believe that the Community Policing Centre needs to stay in the Davie Village to protect people in our community, including queers and seniors,” Stipp says. “Moving to Robson St or Coal Harbour would be detrimental to the community.”
Stipp also says the CPC should broaden its services to be more responsive to the community’s needs. “They need to be open when people actually need to have the centre open, like in the evenings when it’s busy on Davie St, from 5 pm on during the bar hours,” he says.
Still, Jim Deva, a former president of the CPC, believes the location of the office is ultimately unimportant. “It’s not the location, it’s the representation [of gays and lesbians on the CPC board] that matters, and I don’t see that changing,” says Deva.
CPC board vice president Don Ransom stresses that a queer-positive service will be maintained wherever the CPC office is located. “Just to be truthful, I don’t think our approach has changed at all,” he says. “All of our volunteers are well-versed that people who come in may be gay, seniors or even tourists.”
The move also comes as the board has appointed Pat Short as acting executive director to replace outgoing executive director Pam Dudoward, who stepped down in June after less than a year on the job. Ransom says the temporary appointment will give the board an opportunity to review its staff structure.
CPC volunteer coordinator Peter Symons says services will not be affected by the move. Phone and fax numbers will remain the same, and most of the volunteers are already familiar with the Shopper’s Drug Mart space. “As far as delivery of services, everything will continue as now,” he says.
Shopper’s Drug Mart owner Bill McConnachie is pleased to have the CPC back in his store. “It’s been really good for us as well as the community,” he says. “Shoplifting is huge in the area and we noticed a difference having the CPC here.”