Council questions MADD’s Campaign 911; refuses funds
City of Cranbrook council struggled with a letter requesting support for the Cranbrook/Kimberley Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) Oct. 22.
In an Oct. 18 letter to Cranbrook’s mayor and council, MADD’s new community leader for Cranbrook and Kimberley, Katryna Sigurdson, highlighted activities and efforts leading up to the Project Red Ribbon, which targets Christmas and New Years.
“With lots of holiday parties and events, and lots of glasses being raised for toasts, the risk for impaired driving is especially high at this time of year. Our red ribbon – tied to a vehicle antenna – is a symbol of our ongoing effort to stop impaired driving, and as a tribute to all victims who have been killed or injured in impaired driving crashes,” Sigurdson explained, noting that from Nov. 1 to January 1, MADD Canada chapters, community leaders, volunteers and supporters distribute millions of red ribbons.
With that, she asked to stage a campaign launch at City Hall at 11 a.m. on Nov. 1 and for all city vehicles to have red ribbons attached during the run of the campaign.
Council agreed to those requests. However, they declined support for MADD’s Campaign 911.
Sigurdson said the Campaign 911 would involve MADD working with the city and police “to identify key sign locations. Once these locations are approved by both the city and police, we will work with a local sign company to have the sign created and shipped to the city for installation. MADD will cover all costs associated with the signs, including printing and distribution.
“Part of the success of the program includes providing ongoing updates to the community. This includes stats from the police (number of calls into 9-1-1 for impaired drivers – semi annually after the signs are installed), TV and radios PSAs, handing out brochures and information at community events to name a few.”
Campaign 911 “encourages citizens to call 9-1-1 to report suspected impaired drivers to police,” Sigurdson said. “Campaign 911 gives citizens an important way to help police take impaired drivers off our roads, and sends the message to impaired drivers that other motorists are watching and will report them to police. Having a visible 9-1-1 program in a community also increases the perception to drinking drivers that there is a higher likelihood of being caught. We know from the research that the perception of being caught is a key factor in reducing the incidence of impaired driving in that community.”
Sigurdson concluded by asking for $500 from the Council Contingency Fund to be applied toward the Campaign 911.
Council members balked at providing funds, and questioned the potential complications of people dialing 9-1-1 if they suspect someone of impaired driving.
“Is that a correct use of the 9-1-1 number? You call 9-1-1 and if it isn’t an emergency right now, they tell you to hang up,” stated Coun. Gerry Warner.
Angus Davis was the only member of council who wanted to provide MADD with everything requested, noting their impact in the community. “It takes a lot of courage to do what they do. It’s a thought provoking thing. We should do our part to help,” he told council.
Coun. Sharon Cross said she believes MADD to be undertaking “a commendable project” but also wondered how accepting the RCMP would be to a boost in 9-1-1 calls that might not be actual emergencies.
“I have a feeling our police forces are overtaxed and I don’t know if they could respond to a lot of these calls,” she offered.
Davis admitted there could be issues with 9-1-1 but maintained his support. “A lot of these people have suffered horrible consequences,” he said.
Coun. Denise Pallesen said council must maintain a vigilant position when dealing with city funds.
“We need to really look carefully at what we are handing out with the contingency (fund),” she said.
Council voted five to one (Coun. Diana J Scott was absent) to support a motion allowing the Nov. 1 campaign launch at City Hall and to welcome MADD representatives to speak to council, but refused to provide funding for Campaign 911. Davis was the lone vote against.
For more on MADD’s Campaign 911: http://www.madd.ca/madd2/en/services/awareness_campaigns_campaign_911.html