Kelowna has made some strides to turn around its reputation as a crime hub, but its record is far from untarnished, says a report detailing the overall health of the city.
The Central Okanagan Foundation released its Vital Signs report Tuesday, and on a page titled “are we secure” they point out that Census Metropolitan Area that falls under the umbrella of Kelowna, has a crime rate that surpasses both the provincial and national average.
“The 2014 Kelowna CMA crime rate is a 4.7 per cent above the provincial rate and 56.5 per cent above the national rate,” the report reads.
There were 9,035 violations per 100,000 people in 2014, which amounted to a slight dip in criminal activity from the previous year where there were 9,093 per 100,000.
The good news, however, seems to be that the type of crime that’s most prevalent in the area isn’t violent.
In fact, that’s an area where Kelowna is underachieving, when stacked up against the provincial average.
In 2014 there were 1,038 violent Criminal Code violations per 100,000 people in Kelowna’s CMA. That’s 110 fewer violations than the province’s 1,148 per 100,000 record and one less than the national average, of 1,039 per 100,000.
There were also fewer sexual assaults in Kelowna for 2014 than there were in 2013. In 2014 there were 30.8 sexual assaults per 100,000 people in Kelowna, which is a 50.8 per cent decrease from 2012. In 2014 there were 43 incidents.
The category of crime that seems to flourish locally is property crime. There were 4,792 property crime violations per 100,000 people in Kelowna CMA in 2013, which is a 0.8 per cent increase from 2013. The rate is 1.9 per cent lower than the provincial rate, but 54.8 per cent higher than the national rate.
While the facts and figures don’t offer a rosy summary of this city, there are a few items that show how the community has come together over the years to successfully turn that on its head.
“The Youth Restorative Justice Program, operated by the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, has been restoring relations between young offenders (ages 12-17) and victims of crime,
since 2001,” reads the report.
“To date, the program has served 785 youth – most having committed a property-related offence, such as shoplifting. In cases where both the offender and the victim agree to the program’s terms, minor interpersonal offences – including physical bullying and cyberbullying – can also be processed through a restorative justice approach.”
Opposed to punishment, the program focuses on healing relationships of trust.
“Youth are required to restore relations with the victim and repair the harm done in the community, inspiring them
to take responsibility for their community and their role as active citizens” Sarah MacKinnon, Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs centre director is quoted saying.
The Vital Signs report is a bi-annual community “check-up,” which looks at locally derived data to highlight the vitality of our community. The study is conducted by the Central Okanagan Foundation and 2015 marks the fourth year the Vital Signs report has been published.
The report also looks at the racial makeup of the region, physical health and economic drivers. To get the full picture go to http://www.centralokanaganfoundation.org