SAANICH COUNCIL: Youth custody centre closure; economic cost of climate change

Saanich council discussed youth detention facility closure and the financial side of climate change at this week's meeting,

Saanich questions decision to close youth custody centre

Saanich is on board with asking the Minister of Children and Family Development to reopen discussion on the future of the Victoria Youth Custody Services Centre in View Royal.

Minister Stephanie Cadieux announced April 28 that the facility is under-utilized and will close, meaning young offenders will be sent off-Island to Burnaby. She said the View Royal facility currently averages 15 secure custody inmates in a 60-bed facility. Youth facilities serve as remand centres for youth awaiting court, as well as for those sentenced for repeat or violent offences not serving a sentence in the community.

“That just means our diversion programs are working really, really well,” said Saanich Coun. Judy Brownoff. “We’re saying ‘Let’s look at how we can repurpose some of the space.’”

Saanich will ask the ministry to consider options that would allow the facility to remain open as the provincial youth custody centre, such as utilizing space for mental health or addictions treatment programs or as a remand centre for female offenders.

“It has been there just over 10 years now, but what’s interesting about the facility is it was really purpose-built – it was built to be a service centre for youth,” Brownoff said.

On Monday night Saanich council approved sending a letter to the minister, joining other councils in the region, including Oak Bay and Victoria, to voice concern over the planned closure.

•••••

Disaster prep includes financial side: councillor

When the tides rise, infrastructure should be in place to prevent tragedy as best we can, says one Saanich councillor.

With that in mind, Coun. Judy Brownoff presented the idea to her colleagues Monday, citing reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the TD Economics highlighting financial implications of climate change and that the economic cost of severe weather is under-appreciated.

“Now is the time for all levels of government to move forward, update our targets and climate action plans in the context of these latest reports,” she said.

The TD report references estimates that every dollar invested in climate change prevention will yield anywhere from $9 to $38 worth of avoided costs in the future, she said.

“It must be cheaper if we start investing in some of these high-risk areas,” Brownoff said, citing a sewer pipeline near the waterline in Cadboro Bay as a prime example of a risk should the sea level rise. “It’s under-appreciated the kind of disasters we’re having and the economic impacts.”

Saanich supported a motion from Brownoff and will ask the province to establish a process, in partnership with local governments, to evaluate B.C.’s climate change targets in the context of the reports.

reporter@saanichnews.com

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