Despite community efforts, Van Camp transferred

Despite the community’s push to keep him here, Const. James Van Camp has received his official transfer papers.

The Van Camp family is expected to leave for Kelowna within about a month.

The standard posting at the Ucluelet RCMP detachment lasts four years. Van Camp applied for, and received, a one-year extension but was unsuccessful in obtaining a further extension.

Van Camp will leave the community with wife Edwina and son Lucas, a grade 8 student at Ucluelet Secondary School.

"I have nothing bad to say about Kelowna I hear it’s a great place… but I really have a strong connection with Ucluelet there’s no doubt about it," Van Camp said.

"The truth is we’re sad to be leaving Ucluelet. I hope Kelowna will be as good as Ucluelet has been."

Over 100 locals signed a petition circulated in October last year calling on the RCMP to allow Van Camp to stay and Ucluelet Mayor Bill Irving lobbied for a change to the RCMP’s transfer process during 2013’s Union of BC Municipalities convention.

While these efforts went unrewarded, Van Camp was flattered by the community’s push. "That’s a fantastic feeling…We don’t always get to see the result of our work so that made me feel that my time here in Ucluelet was spent doing the right thing," he said.

"I’m grateful for people that were willing to stand up. To me that comes across as them voicing their appreciation and it’s very flattering; it just makes you want to stay that much more."

While Van Camp and his family are sad to leave, he said other officers deserve to experience Ucluelet.

"Ucluelet is such a great place, it’s not hard to fill this spot, I was lucky enough to get it, we’re all lucky enough to be here. It’s probably one of the best postings in Western Canada in my opinion. You’ve got to give other guys the chance to come into great little communities like this," he said.

"They gave me one extension and I certainly wish I could have had another but I think they’ve probably got a lineup of people that want to come in so we’ve got to keep some room for that."

Van Camp began his policing career in Calgary before joining the BC RCMP and going to Campbell River.

"The opportunity came up to go to Ucluelet and we knew right away that we would rather come to Ucluelet than do anything else and we were right on the money," he said.

"I can’t believe five years has gone so fast; we’ve met some fantastic people.

"I was not expecting to get so connected to a community that’s for sure. With all the moving around we’d done I thought Ucluelet was going to be just another place where you go and hang out for a little while and then leave but it wasn’t that at all," he said.

"This is certainly the best place we’ve ever lived all the way around no question…It’s the people and of course the surroundings; it’s such a great little place to live."

He said he has enjoyed working with Ucluelet’s detachment commander Sgt. Jeff Swann as well as Ucluelet’s municipal councils and even locals he’s dealt with on patrol.

"Even people that we encounter policing, you get to know them and there’s no problems," he said.

Van Camp served as the detachment’s fire investigator and said he gained much experience and knowledge thanks to the support he received from Ucluelet’s volunteer fire brigade.

"What an amazing group of individuals, they’re as good as it gets," he said of the local fire crew.

He believes the experience he has gained in Ucluelet will be a strong asset in his new beat and he will arrive in Kelowna well equipped with community policing skills.

Sgt. Swann encourages his officers to form community relationships and infuses his detachment with an understanding of how important those relationships are.

"There’s opportunity for growth in Kelowna and the fact that I get to go there now with the knowledge that building relationships in a community works and it’s a good idea, that part actually does excite me," Van Camp said.

"Just because Kelowna is bigger doesn’t mean we can’t try and do the same thing in Kelowna and that’s certainly going to be my goal."

reporter@westerlynews.ca