'Enough is enough': Kelowna mayor calling for change after release of prolific offender

Basran: enough is enough

Madison Erhardt

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran is pointing the finger at the provincial government after the release of a prolific offender into the community.

"How is that possible? This person is clearly a danger to our community. That is why the RCMP has issued this warning and enough is enough the provincial government needs to take action," Basran said.

RCMP arrested Justin Wayne Collins, 45, on Sunday for assault, mischief, theft of mail and breach of probation. The following day, he appeared before the courts and was released with conditions.

Basran says he is pushing the provincial government for systemic change.

"Something has to change. Part of making change is through really strong advocacy. So I am really proud of the fact that myself and other mayors across the province have banded together to really force the provincial government to take action that really should have been done a long time ago."

"We are waiting now on a report from the provincial government on potential charges to our justice system that will hopefully close this catch and release loophole once and for all because this is not acceptable," Basran continued, adding he is asking the provincial government to consider mandatory treatment for individuals with mental health and addiction issues.

On Tuesday, Kelowna RCMP commander Kara Triance called for compulsory mental health and substance use programs.

Detachment spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera said Collins has not shown the "capacity or willingness to be treated through out patient programs."

"If our justice system is shifting to not incarcerating people with complex mental health and substance use concerns that lead to criminal acts and unsafe behaviours, the stream needs to be through health. Individuals such as Justin Collins who do not participate meaningfully through out patient programs, need to be compelled to health care or incarcerated to stop their behaviour," Mike Della-Paolera added.

Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray echoed a similar perspective, calling the "revolving door in our criminal justice system" unacceptable.

"While at the same time, we must be mindful of the complexity and intersection with homelessness, mental health, and addictions. That’s why I introduced a Private Members Bill, Bill C-283, to address addictions/mental health and ensure individuals are able to receive treatment for addiction when they are sentenced to federal penitentiaries," Gray told Castanet.

Last week, David Eby, BC NDP leadership candidate and the frontrunner to be B.C.'s next premier suggested compulsory or involuntary mental health and addictions care should be rolled out in the province. His challenger called the concept "wrong" and "uncompassionate."

Gray says all levels of government are needed to put forward new measures.

"Our research has shown that over 70 per cent of people who are incarcerated to federal penitentiaries have addiction issues and many reoffend."

Collins, meanwhile, has generated 421 files since 2016.

"The problem is, there is no place to put him. He continues to be released onto the streets of Kelowna and he has to take care of himself which he doesn't have the ability to do and the system is not there to support him," said Della-Paolera.

Della-Paolera says the issue is both a provincial and federal matter.

"They are citizens of Canada. They are on our streets, in our city and we just need support from the various levels of government to help support these people in a more proactive way."

Police are asking the public to call them immediately if Collins is seen breaking the law.

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