A public safety program developed in the M.D. of Bonnyville was rejected for the hamlet this week.
The Vacant Home Patrol Program allows residents to notify their Public Safety department when they will be away from their homes for an extended period of time, so peace officers can watch over the home while residents are away.
Vacant homes would be added to peace officers daily patrol route so they can be monitored, however, this is one of the reasons Lac La Biche Mayor, Omer Moghrabi, did not want the program for Lac La Biche.
“Having peace officers check on the vacant homes can put a target on them,” said Moghrabi.
“People can follow them, they know they are checking these homes, and when the peace officers are gone they’ll come in.”
A program like this could lead to vacant homes becoming more vulnerable than they already are to getting broken into and having items stolen.
The other problem with the program is it could prevent peace officers from getting to the more serious problems happening in Lac La Biche.
“We do geographically have a very big area. If the peace officers have to check a vacant subdivision on the east side of the lake, and there is a problem on the northwest side, it could take them an hour to get there,” said Moghrabi.
Moghrabi admits the rural areas already are being checked regularly, but he also believes that it is a collective initiative to help monitor vacant homes and to keep them safe.
“We are the police, but only the police can enforce the law,” said Moghrabi.
“So we can be the eyes and ears for our neighbors. We can make sure that we have gates, that we put in alarm systems, we felt that this program was just not worth the money.”