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Burnaby to review approach to tent checks after RCMP officer's stabbing death


Burnaby’s mayor said the city will be reviewing the circumstances around Tuesday’s fatal stabbing of an RCMP officer to see if any changes need to be made when it comes to checking on tents.

For frontline staff in some cities, wellness checks in parks have become a regular part of their daily duties, and previous safety concerns have already led to a change in approach in one municipality.

Exactly what led up to the stabbing of Const. Shaelyn Yang at Broadview Park in Burnaby is under investigation. Sgt. Timothy Pierotti with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said she was responding to a call to assist.

"My understanding is that Const. Yang was asked to assist in a notification to him, that he was not permitted to be in the park," Pierotti said. "They weren't there to remove him at the time, they were just there to notify him of that."

Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley described the park employee who was with Yang as "part of a team that goes out and looks at tents in parks...where homeless people are set up in public areas".

"It would be typical that they go together," he said. "Because usually the homeless people are known to our parks people...this RCMP officer was really experienced in this field. So they go together to try and assist the homeless person to find a different accommodation."

Hurley said his understanding is the city’s team had connected with the person in the tent before.

"We’ll be reviewing everything that happened and working with rcmp and our staff to review if changes need to be made," he said. "And they certainly will be."

In the neighbouring city of Vancouver, the approach to wellness checks on tents by park rangers changed just recently, with the park board citing safety as the reason.

Cupe Local 15 president Warren Williams, whose union represents park rangers and other city staff, said rangers are no longer supposed to open up a tent to look inside if there is no response, but can call police for assistance.

"My understanding is that park rangers are doing verbal checks," he said. "If the individuals in the tents are responsive, they ask a series of questions to make sure they’re OK."

A park board review of the safe operating procedure for staff carrying out such checks is ongoing. Williams said he expects what happened in Burnaby could also inform future approaches.

"I'm confident that they will be addressing it and will be looking at what else can be done here," he said. "To not only keep the park rangers and (police officers) safe, but members of the public also."

Hurley added the park employee who was with Yang is receiving help in the wake of Tuesday’s violent and tragic loss. Top Stories

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