The City of Kelowna unveiled its five priorities for its new Community Safety Plan at a council meeting on Monday, Oct. 8.
The plan aims to tackle crime issues in the city and has been under development since September 2020. According to a city staff report, the plan will prioritize five key areas of concern based on results from their public engagement efforts:
· Crime prevention, intervention and sense of safety;
· Domestic and intimate partner violence;
· Housing and homelessness;
· Mental health and problematic substance use (including alcohol); and
· Racism and discrimination.
Crime was noted as the most concerning community safety theme according to survey results.
City staff also announced how it will be addressing the five key priorities. For each priority, staff will look at strategic approaches and determine action items for each approach. Staff will then establish strategies to address the action items, striking a balance between long-term solutions and short-term solutions meant to reduce harm.
Last year, city council endorsed the development of a new community safety plan to shape the way crime is handled and responded to in the city. The plan is proposed to reduce the vulnerability and the number of people at risk for coming into conflict with the criminal justice system, according to a city staff report. It will also focus on providing supports and resources that will prevent those in disadvantaged groups from suffering.
“The Community Safety Plan is an upstream preventative plan. Its objective, among others, is to ensure that vulnerable individuals, families and communities are identified earlier and receive timelier, targeted and more appropriate supports before costly crisis intervention is required,” said Darren Caul, the city’s community safety director, during Monday’s city council meeting.
The completed Community Safety Plan is expected to be presented to council in 2022. It is expected to be in duration for five years if approved.