District of Coldstream pitches in for justice society

A local program is doing its part to restore justice to the North Okanagan.

“Ever since the first referral in January of 2006, there have been 500 persons harmed and 200 of those who caused harm involved in the service,” said Margaret Clark, with the Restorative Justice Society - North Okanagan.

Minor offences are often referred to the program, such as assaults, mischief, theft unders, graffiti and cyber bullying.

The program offers willing persons harmed and those who caused the harm a chance to meet face-to-face and all have a say in the outcome towards a solution.

“Restorative justice isn’t easy, it takes courage and expression of humanity that is amazing to witness,” said Clark.

Warren Smith, president of the society adds: “It’s amazing to see the effects of this program.”

One participant commented: “I think this was helpful in raising awareness of the harm that was done and helped the person who caused the harm see how it affected others.”

One problem that is increasingly becoming evident is cyber bullying and internet offences.

“People as young as 12 are being charged with two or three offences because they’re not aware of the things they are doing on the internet,” said Clark.

The program costs $70,000 annually to operate, which is supported mainly through the City of Vernon and solicitor general’s office.

Coldstream is pitching in $2,000 for the program this year.

Motorists issued more citations

Coldstream drivers could soon be issued a pleasant surprise from RCMP.

The thank you for not speeding program is moving into the district, where tickets will be issued to motorists who obey speed limits.

“We’ll be targeting people who actually aren’t speeding,” said Warren Smith, Safe Communities Unit, rural programs coordinator.

Working with local schools, the program is aiming to get on track in Coldstream.

The new program recently started in Armstrong, where it was well received.

“We actually had one of the councillors in Armstrong (Shirley Fowler) pulled over and she was struck with fear as she was pulled over,” said Smith, adding that she was soon relieved to be issued a positive citation.

The program is seeking sponsorships in order to offer some sort of rewards to obedient drivers.


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