The task force and City of Trail held an all-day session in June to review public input and develop a community safety plan with consultant Gordon A. McIntosh, PhD. (City of Trail photo)

What was the Trail Times top story of 2019?

Readers say crime, Union Hotel demo, and KBRH construction were the top 3 stories of 2019

According to the Trail Times year-end poll, the most popular story of 2019 was “crime increase in the Trail area.”

Of all the votes on the Times’ website, 40 per cent said crime increase stood out as the most prevalent subject matter over the past year.

Unlike “Trail acid spills,” the top story of 2018 that involved a singular topic, this year’s coverage of “crime” was far-reaching and became part of a whole gamut of stories, involving many people.

This was for a number of reasons, one of those being that community safety and crime reduction strategies were central to city council’s 2019 agenda.

Trail Mayor Lisa Pasin announced in early winter that a new municipally-led initiative, called the Community Safety Task Force, would get off the ground in January.

A number of stories were subsequently generated from this step-by-step process, which involved the appointment of Coun. Sandy Santori as committee chair, the city’s hiring of a consultant, an open session to gather community concerns about this issue, and the culmination of a “Community Safety Action Chart.”

These happenings of course made the news, as did the outcomes Santori reported from task force meetings that had committee members, who are mostly workers representing frontline agencies such as the RCMP and Interior Health, convening at city hall every few months.

Another significant factor throughout 2019 – and this one carried a lot of weight in the Trail Times newsroom – is that local acts of “crime” were regularly reported out by the Trail and Greater District RCMP.

This is the first time in recent memory that the Trail police started issuing weekly news briefs to the media.

These reports covered cases from Rossland to Trail and the Beaver Valley, and specifically started coming from Sgt. Mike Wicentowich shortly after he settled in as head of the detachment in the fall of 2018.

His news releases describe some of the incidents officers deal with in any given week. As well, when there was a serious, one-off criminal incident, the sergeant was quick to report, and answer questions, on those situations.

He also recently released crime statistics from the first nine months of the year. While some may question if crime is on the rise, or if regular reporting gives it that appearance, his data does reveal tangible evidence that certain offences, like the number of reported property crimes, did increase this year.

For example, this category of crime currently sits at 131 reports. In 2018, this figure sat at 90. Granted, most of this increase is due to double the number of “theft from motor vehicle” reports.

Moving on from crime to construction, according to readers polled, the second top news-maker in 2019 was “tearing down the Union Hotel.”

Just over 29 per cent of respondents voted for this story. Of course, watching the brick establishment come down over two months this summer made for some great content and photo opportunities, given the newsroom office is right across the street.

Big construction at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital took third place with almost 20 per cent of the votes. This subject was at the forefront for several months because access to the hospital was quite burdensome for patients and visitors due to a re-configuration that resulted in a long walkway around the build zone. Adding to that problem, was, of course, more parking woes than usual.

After these three top stories, the federal election followed with 6.5 per cent of the vote, and closing the list was “climate change” at 4.5 per cent.

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