A long and troubled road
Rae mayor wants to curb transportation of alcohol and drugs

by Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 27/98) - With drugs and alcohol among its biggest problems, Rae is no different than any other community, according to mayor Dan Marion.

The difference, however, may be that the source of these woes. Much of the supply to this alcohol-restricted community comes via the road from Yellowknife. Another RCMP highway patrol officer would be of great benefit, in Marion's opinion.

"If the police did a lot of road checks and everything they're supposed to do, that would put a dent in trafficking," he said.

"I do believe we have a drug problem in Rae and I do believe Yellowknife has a super one," Marion said.

"We will be writing a letter to the RCMP saying that there should be an RCMP highway person. Look at our traffic, look at everything."

RCMP superintendent Terry Elliott acknowledged the unmanageable road, but said "G" division is suffering from a lack of personnel.

"We don't have the resources to put anybody else out there at this time," Elliott said.

However, an RCMP submission to the GNWT is being prepared to appeal for an increased presence in co-operation with the Department of Transportation, said Elliott. "That road is getting busier all the time," he noted. "We recognize that it's a concern, for sure."

There is just one constable, based in Yellowknife, who patrols the highway. His jurisdiction, which includes Yellowknife proper, runs as far as Boundary Creek (approximately 60 kilometres towards the 160-kilometre stretch to Rae) and to Tibbitt Lake, along the Ingraham Trail.

According to Staff Sgt. Dave Grundy, there are often a "phenomenal" number of tickets issued between Yellowknife and Rae.

In Rae, there are six RCMP officers, but like their counterparts in Yellowknife, they are too busy to deal with the highway, Marion said.

The hauling of alcohol and drugs isn't the only concern Marion has in regard to the highway. He said speeders and irresponsible truck drivers are also a periodic problem on the winding road.

"It's a very bad stretch between Yellowknife and Rae-Edzo," said Marion, noting that several lives have been claimed along the route, including a local drug and alcohol counsellor a few years ago.

"Once you have an apparatus working the roads, then you pick up a lot of things. sometimes people can even give tips," Marion said.

Elliott confirmed that input from the public is crucial in curtailing drug trafficking and bootlegging.

"It all comes down to public co-operation. If we have information ... we'll certainly be out there to try and intercept them," he said.

"We need reasonable and probable grounds to be searching vehicles."

The municipality of Rae is taking up a number of other initiatives to make the community a safer place, including an application for a community constable, auxiliary police patrols and more participation with Crime Stoppers, Marion said.

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