UPDATE: Kelowna mayoral candidates talk about crime

Candidates talk about an issue on many city residents’ minds—how to deal with crime downtown

Update 6:20 p.m.

Joshua Hoggan has dropped out of the mayor’s race which leaves four men vying for the city’s top elected position.

Hoggan was the mayoral candidate who pledged to live homeless for a year if elected. He also pledged to donate the $106,000 mayor’s salary to charity.

He thanked his supporters and said the the mayor should be a person of “incredible character and strength, amongst all the storms that may face them.”

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Original

Every Friday during the run up to the Oct. 20 civic election, the Capital News will ask candidates a question about a local issue. The first question is: Are you concerned about crime in your city? What would you do to create change if you were elected? Here are their answers, edited for size. Three of the four mayoral candidates responded. Bobby Kennedy did not respond.

Bob Schewe

The short answer is yes, I am very concerned about the escalation of crime in Kelowna. To begin with the RCMP staffing level has to be brought up to the national per capita average to help get a handle on the criminal matters. Communication and co-ordination between the city bylaw department and the RCMP has to be restored to where it was a decade ago, so they can both be more efficient and effective in their jurisdictions, dealing with problem people and properties.

Tom Dyas

Yes, I am concerned about crime in our city, more specifically I am concerned about crime in the downtown core and the continued invasion of organized crime.

After the Bacon shooting in 2011, Kelowna formed an organized crime task force, but it was disbanded due to lack of funding, leaving local RCMP alone to fight organized crime. I will push for the reinstatement of the task force . Crime is a complex problem related to drug use, homelessness and prostitution. Unscrupulous individuals prey upon those who suffer from addiction and mental illness therefore escalating crime and vandalism in our city. We need to:

• Re-introduce and re-establish an integrated community court

• Lobby other governments for reactivation of the auxiliary policing program.

• Re-establish meetings with BC Housing, RCMP, Interior Health and community representatives that the city walked away from six months ago

• Align key agencies to support victims and people suffering from mental illness.

The Journey Home plan, of which I was part of, has some great long-term strategies, but not everyone has been included in these discussions. Millions of dollars have been invested in revitalizing the downtown core. If we do not control what is happening within our city, it will take years to recover any momentum we have gained. We can do better protecting our citizens. It is key leaders being at the table with community partners that will find the solutions.

Colin Basran

When I first ran for city council in 2011, as well as for mayor in 2014, I spoke clearly about the importance of having a city where everyone feels safe and secure. With that in mind we have to focus on the inevitable challenges of a growing city where some feel there is an increase in crime rates when, in fact, proportional offences have not changed.

Here is a quick snapshot of investments made during my time in office:

• $48 Million into state-of-the-art police station

• Created and filled 50 new positions across RCMP, bylaw, and firefighter services

• Increased summer bike patrol to four teams

• Launched the police and crisis team

• Increased RCMP and bylaw foot patrol

• Invested in needle pick-up programs

Criminals who prey on the homeless, the addicted and mentally ill, as well as those committed to property crime will not be tolerated and we will continue to dedicate resources to dealing with these threats. Council’s hiring of former RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon, further demonstrates our intent. His report, to be completed this fall, will outline measures to increase safety in our downtown core.

Homelessness is a different matter and impacts every community in our country. We learned through The Journey Home program we need to build more housing, provide additional social services and align the investments of senior governments. That’s why 88 units of supportive housing for the chronically homeless will come on stream later this year, with an additional 100 units next year. This will provide housing for almost two-thirds of the chronically homeless in Kelowna, and will allow for the closing of the Cornerstone emergency shelter in March.

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