Included in Wednesday, May 26th print edition is our Women in Business magazine where we highlight South Okangan women who are making a difference in the community and in the business world. Below is our feature on Penticton’s top bylaw officer Tina Mercier.
Women in law enforcement haven’t had an easy road to respect, but Penticton’s bylaw services supervisor Tina Mercier is one of many women changing how people traditionally view the forces behind law and order.
Mercier admits that many people see bylaw as an occupation traditionally occupied by men, but in her career, she’s been able to use gender to her advantage rather than a roadblock.
“I think typically there is a bit of a notion that it’s more of a man’s job, but a lot of the work I do is around scheduling, deployment, operations and budgeting so there is a lot to the job where it really doesn’t matter and sometimes being a woman can be helpful,” Mercier said.
Mercier has worked hard to make Penticton a better place since taking over as bylaw services supervisor in 2014 after moving to Penticton from Calgary, where she worked for the local transit security services.
Since moving to Penticton, Mercier has been able to put her passion for serving the community to good use.
“It’s a really unique role in the community. I love the city we live in and this job field because you make a difference out there every day with the work we do,” she said. “My heart and my passion are helping make the city a better place.”
It hasn’t always been easy, but all of her tireless work and commitment is starting to pay off and earn her much-deserved recognition.
In October 2020, Mercier was recognized by the Licence Inspector’s and Bylaw Officer’s Association of British Columbia as the province’s top bylaw enforcement officer of the year.
The award honours a licence inspector or bylaw enforcement officer who has made an outstanding contribution by way of exhibited leadership and vision, positive role-modelling, education and training, trustworthiness and integrity and demonstrated skills in bylaw enforcement and investigation.
When she first started the job there were only two other bylaw officers in Penticton. Mercier has worked hard to expand bylaw services in Penticton, with the city now employing eight full-time officers and a handful of part-time officers. She sees expanding bylaw services as one of her biggest successes during her time as a supervisor.
Penticton has changed significantly since she first took the job seven years ago, she said.
Bylaw officers are now constantly dealing with the direct result of the opioid crisis coupled with a growing homeless population in Penticton.
In April 2021, Penticton’s bylaw services responded to 63 calls for transient camps in the city. Regularly dealing with people who are battling addiction and mental health issues can be challenging, Mercier said. However, it’s a challenge she takes on with pride knowing it’s a complex issue and that she’s helping people who are often at a low point in their lives.
“The opioid crisis has really changed the work we do in the community,” Mercier said. “We’re dealing with individuals that are not stable and have very much entrenched their lives in drug activity.”
Meeting the public’s expectations of keeping the city safe, secure and clean is what Mercier calls bylaw’s biggest challenge currently in front of them.
“Trying to get help for some of these individuals that are the most vulnerable in the community is a big challenge because we come across them every day and we really don’t want this to be a long-term thing but they’re down the path where this is a long term thing and need a lot of support and services.”
Making sure no permanent encampments are started in the city, helping people find housing and responding to overdoses, are just some of the daily duties performed by bylaw officers in Penticton, Mercier said.
“We have naloxone training and it has become an important part of our job,” she said.
Moving forward, Mercier hopes to continue serving the public.
“I love the Okanagan and I love living and working here,” she said.