Kelowna Chamber of Commerce likes what it heard in city public safety report

Chamber president says report by former RCMP superintendent reiterates its members concerns

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce says a report on public safety prepared for city council by former RCMP Supt.Bill McKinnon reiterates the concerns of its members.

Carmen Sparg, president of the chamber said her organization is “generally” pleased with McKinnon’s report , which was presented to council on Monday.

“Overall, the chamber appreciates the work that was undertaken by the former RCMP superintendent, and is generally supportive of the recommendations contained within the report, particularly the call for the city to take a leadership role on this issue and the renewed call for a community court, something the chamber has long supported,” said Sparg.

“In fact, we drafted another letter just a few months ago that calls on the province to provide the support necessary to make it a reality in Kelowna.”

She said the chamber is happy to see short-term improvements by the city such as increasing efforts to keep the streets clean and provide public washrooms for those that need them.

“We did take note of the reference in the report that adding more bylaw officers last summer may not have been the most cost-effective approach to dealing with the issues downtown as bylaw officers don’t have the authority to deal with potential criminal code offenses,” said Sparg. “Getting legislative changes to give bylaw officers more authority is something the chamber would likely be supportive of.”

She added the chamber is willing to work with the city and participate in discussions that are centered on creating a positive environment for downtown.

“While it has neither the authority nor the expertise to deal with the issues being discussed, the chamber can be a communications conduit for business owners, employees and customers who are impacted by the state of downtown.”

The chamber believes while the city needs to take a leadership role, that the provincial and federal governments also have a role to play in ensuring local governments have the financial resources and tools to address this complicated issue.”

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