VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – “We could have done a better job, but we handled the situation immediately.”

That’s what a former mayor of Vancouver has told the Missing Women Inquiry. Philip Owen, who was mayor from 1993 to 2002, believes the city acted on dozens letters from concerned family members of women missing from the Downtown Eastside.

Some of the letter said things like “There’s a serial killer stalking Vancouver’s skid row” and “Mr. Mayor, I implore you to come up with a task force.”

Others offered a $100,000 reward. Owen, who chaired the police board, says the board and Vancouver Police Department were inundated with information, but handled things swiftly.

“I was concerned about Vancouver being on the hook and I had no authority on the Police Board to go and say, ‘I’ll committ Vancouver to $100,000 [reward]. Coquitlam RCMP were also involved.”

Owen also testified that the onus falls on officers to take any concerns of a serial killer to the Board. “We had public meetings, we had in-camera meetings. There were opportunities for police officers to inform us of things and if it was not leading to something satisfactory, we would have been informed about it.”

Other members on that board in the 1990′s were also defending how they handled the situation.

Elizabeth Watson says the board had little ability to interfere with what the police were doing, or even ask about it.  

“You then have your police chief, some deputies, maybe an inspector telling you, ‘This is what we’re doing. It’s good policing, it’s a good approach, et cetera, et cetera.’”

Owen also puts blame on the RCMP in Port Coquitlam, where Pickton lived. He says turf wars, egos and poor communication all contributed to the poorly managed investigation. He recommends that a closer look is taken at regional policing to avoid any gaps in the the future.