OUR OPINION

Al Warkentin and his son, DJ, behind the razor wire that was installed to protect their storage yard in the Penticton industrial area.

At first glance, Warkentin Stucco and Acrylic could be used as the set of a prison movie.

But, for owners of the small business tucked away on Commercial Ave., they really don’t have any choice ... even if it means rewriting city bylaws.

Al Warkentin operates a storage and equipment yard on the property and rents the remaining half to industrial tenants. Over the past two years, his tenants have been robbed, once for scaffolding valued at $3,500, the other time a truck was stolen.

Standard fencing isn’t much of a challenge for a thief who’s in good physical shape. Video cameras are often inconclusive. The industrial area is quiet at night without a lot of cars and pedestrians coming and going.

Taking matters into his own hands, Warkentin installed razor wire above the fence. It’s easily six feet off the ground and the only individuals who could injure themselves would be wannabe thieves.

Since installing the sharp wire last August, there have been no thefts on his property.

Following the complaint of a neighbour, the issue ended up in front of city council.

After considerable debate, council went against a staff recommendation and voted 4-3 to allow the razor wire with Mayor John Vassilaki, Julius Bloomfield, Frank Regehr and Campbell Watt in favour.

Whether we want to admit it or not, Penticton has a crime problem. There, we said it and yes, it has come to this.

Council does try, but we haven’t seen much evidence of success. RCMP believe the solution is hiring more police, rather than restructure their present staffing model. The courts are too lenient and during the COVID pandemic, bad guys know even if they kill someone, they will get house arrest while awaiting trial (which could take years.) Social workers believe the solution is compassion and services for those with drug and mental health issues.

Here’s a compromise.

If all of the above mentioned can get crime under control to a reasonable level within one year’s time, the sharp wire must be removed.

James Miller is managing editor of The Penticton Herald. Email: james.miller@ok.bc.ca