The devil is in the detail when it comes to crime statistics, Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray warned future city councils on Monday.
A presentation on how well Kelowna is meeting targets set in the Official Community Plan revealed the Kelowna RCMP are doing a bang-up job of reducing crime, though the number of criminal code offences reported per 1,000 people did appear to rise in 2012, despite a downward trend overall.
“With policing, the public should understand we’ve really added to the police. As you add more and more police, you therefore add more resources for dealing with files,” he said.
The mayor pointed out the blip in the number of files being dealt with does not necessarily mean more crime, it just means more crime fighting.
He then went on to praise the city’s staff for largely meeting or exceeding the demands of the OCP, as laid out by Kelowna residents in a lengthy consultation process which culminated in the OCP document in 2011.
The OCP spans the next 30 years and sets targets in areas like the city’s walkability, affordability, how well the natural environment is preserved and its economic growth.
Of 17 indicators the city uses to track its progress on the plan, the municipality was only losing ground on four. The number of vehicle crashes reported per 1,000 people; the supply of residential land; the rental vacancy rate; and the percentage of new commercial square footage located in urban centres are all areas that need some improvement according to this checkup.
The safety element caught Coun. Luke Stack’s attention and he questioned whether some new partnerships between different levels of government responsible for dealing with road safety might be worth pursuing.
“I think it behooves us to look at it,” he said. “If it’s trending the wrong way, we’re seeing more carnage on the streets.”
City planner Graham March did point out that none of the data gathered thus far represents a true trend as it has only been collected for three years. Nevertheless, at 68.2 crashes per 1000 people per year, the statistic was one of the only down notes in the report.
Kelowna is otherwise becoming significantly more urbanized with less sprawl. There is more affordable housing and our neighbourhoods are more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly.The percentage of the population living within 400 metres of a park also continues to increase.
The next major review of the OCP is set to begin in 2017.