Filed for publication with the Mirror
This letter is written in response to the article published in the August 07, 2015 edition of the Campbell River Mirror.
It is written with disbelief and disappointment that our community would even consider instituting a fee for Criminal Record Checks for volunteers. The Mirror quotes a city staff member: “The city recognizes that volunteers are key to the success of the community, period.” This proposed fee does not give evidence of that recognition.
I understand that the costs for completing the Criminal Record Checks are presently paid by the City of Campbell River to the RCMP on behalf of the volunteer community. Volunteer Campbell River acts as an agent, receiving and distributing completed forms on behalf of the many non-profit and volunteer agencies of our community. This program is not a drain on resources: it is an investment in the people of this community. It is a nod of approval toward the kindness and generosity of those who give freely of their time and talent. It is an acknowledgement of the priceless contribution that volunteers offer to our community. It is tangible evidence that our city cares for the safety of its people, particularly the most vulnerable.
This proposal indicates that the way has been lost. While some communities have instituted fees for completing Criminal Record Checks for volunteers, many have not. As an example, our nearest neighbours, Courtenay and Comox, do not charge a fee to volunteers.
The article noted that the City of Campbell River has already accessed a free online program (The Criminal Records Review Act) for its summer employees. I respectfully suggest that the city provide expertise to Volunteer Campbell River, enabling them to access and administer this program. Through them, the entire volunteer community could utilize this service in a timely and ‘user friendly’ manner. There is no need for each non-profit volunteer based agency to create its own account. Volunteer Campbell River is well suited to act on behalf of all the agencies it represents.
Once the program was in place, there would be no further cost to the city. There would be no need for any volunteer to pay a fee for the completion of a Criminal Record Check. Untimely waits for the completion of Criminal Record Checks would no longer exist. The burden on the local RCMP detachment would also be eliminated.
I also suggest that the City of Campbell River allocate sufficient resources so that the current backlog of volunteer Criminal Record Checks can be expedited in a timely fashion. Perhaps the RCMP detachment is in a position to collaborate with the city in processing the 139 volunteer applications currently awaiting completion. The safety and well-being of our citizens are well worth this one-time effort. Our entire community awaits a wise response.
Brenda Merk Hildebrand
Mayor forwards his reply…
Thank You Brenda,
Council has not made a decision on this this issue and it will be discussed further at the next Committee of the Whole meeting.
As a member of several volunteer organizations I fully appreciate the importance and role volunteers play in our community.
The online criminal record has been available for everyone for several years, not just the City. For the past several years the organizations that I’m involved with have done our criminal record checks using the no charge online service which has been quicker and easier. This service will continue to be provided at no charge. As you have mentioned, we will continue to work with and support the Volunteer Society and other groups to assist in accessing the online system.