Inuvik RCMP have identified three youth involved in a June 6 fire on Kugmalit Road that destroyed an unoccupied row house and are working to rehabilitate them.
Const. Stephanie Leduc, who is the chief investigator of the fire, told Town Council June 24 she was working with the three youth and their families to help them understand the gravity of their actions.
Coun. Ray Solotki had asked during the meeting if there was a plan for the youth to apologize to the firefighters, as had been done in the past. However, Leduc said the police had a duty to protect the identity of minors.
“Embarrassment is not the way to educate children,” explained Leduc, who has a degree in both Criminology and Psychology. “Or to get them to follow the rules.”
Leduc said she is engaged in weekly meetings with the youth and their parents and said the youth are very apologetic. She noted she was acting as a diversion officer, as the current diversion department was not taking new files on.
She added she was looking at a number of fire safety programs to put the oldest of the youth through, whereas the other two are young enough that they cannot be held criminally responsible — but their parents got them involved in a sort-of community service response anyway.
“Their parents wanted them to go through something, so they spent three hours with me last week cleaning up parks in the community and fixing damage that was done at the skate park,” she said. “So they have completed their diversion, which I think was appropriate for their age. The older youth is going to take a bit more time because I am implementing the diversion myself and that’s on top of all my other calls and investigation files.”
She noted she was also looking into the possibility of getting the youth to write letters to the community and noted she was trying to come up with ways to communicate to the community that the three youth are sorry without exposing their identities.
The June 6 fire ripped through one of two row houses owned by landlord Talal Khatib. The fire required 19 personnel and five vehicles to put out. It was demolished following the fire.
Site not cleaned up yet
With nearly a month passed since the building — which contained lead paint and asbestos — was demolished, councillors also expressed concern over the nearby playground.
Coun. Clarence Wood asked during a June 15 meeting if the town was able to put fencing around the site to keep children out while the town navigates the paperwork of cleaning the site up safely.
Senior and administrative officer Grant Hood told council he was awaiting a response from Environment and Natural resources as to the next step in the process. In the interim, he said the town was keeping the site wet and could step up enforcement in the area and would look into the costing and timing of putting up a fence.
Coun. Steve Baryluk pointed out parents had a responsibility to educate their children on the dangers of playing in sites contaminated asbestos and other hazardous substances.
“It’s not necessarily up to the town to be looking after everybody’s kids,” he said. “Parents need to take some responsibility and talk to them about staying out of there, and explain the reasons why it’s dangerous to their health.”