Kelowna’s former top cop says city can’t ‘arrest its way’ out of downtown drug problems

Former RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon is preparing a report on ways to deal with impact of opioid crisis

Former RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon was in charge of the Kelowna detachment from 2004 to 2013. —Image:Capital News file

Kelowna’s former top cop, hired by the city to look at issues surrounding the opioid crisis, says enforcement alone is not the answer.

“You can’t arrest your way out of this, it’s impossible to do that in 2018,” says retired RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon in a new video released by the city to highlight the work he is doing as a consultant for city hall.

“That may have been effective in my day, or in 2005, but it’s so complex and there are so many intricacies in what’s going on in the actual solutions,” says McKinnon who retired in 2013 after nine years in charge of the Kelowna detachment.

McKinnon is set to present his report in November. He held off presenting it before the municipal election, preferring to reveal his recommendations to the new city council to be sworn in Nov. 5.

In the YouTube video, McKinnon says everything he has looked at, and everyone he has spoken too, agree that first requirement is to get people on the street shelter.

“They’ve got to have a roof over their heads,” he says in the video. “We can’t leave people out on the street to freeze to death. And the housing can’t come quick enough, to be honest with you.”

B.C. Housing is opening 88 new units of supportive housing this year in the city and talks are underway for another 100 units next year.

McKinnon calls the opioid crisis a “real game changer” in terms of law enforcement since he was in the city’s top cop.

The video lists three main issues that are complicating the quest for solutions to the issue—mental health and addiction, an increasing vulnerable population and a changing legal environment.

“The numbers have doubled, almost tripled, from what I saw when I left (the RCMP) in 2013,” says McKinnon.

And then there is the court system.

He notes while possession of a narcotic is still an offence, the courts are treating it as an illness and as a result, feels the penalties for possession are far different than what they were in 2013.

In the video, the city lists several steps it has taken this year to help alleviate the situation downtown including:

• New security patrols

• Increased street cleaning

• On-call recovery of discarded needles

• Temporary washrooms

And it says it is also working with partners on what it calls a holistic approach to housing and support services.

McKinnon says he has a number of recommendations he feels need to be acted on and moved forward to help improve the situation and says there are also some “quick fixes.”

McKinnon report will be presented to council next month.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Reduce, reuse, recycle: Repair cafes gaining popularity in Kelowna

The Regional District of the Central Okanagan’s cafe was held at Okanagan College Saturday

Rockets held scoreless in loss against Red Deer

Rockets will look for some points in final game of road trip against Edmonton

New maintenance crew to look after Okanagan Connector

Acciona Infrastructure Maintenance Inc. will replace Argo Road Maintenance Inc. in 2019

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

New Lake Country arts council to request funds from district

The arts council will ask the district for $8,000 from 2019 to 2021

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

Hodge: The long road to recovery

Kelowna - The first week of recovery I was too consumed in pain to notice the lack of fluid.

Letter: Teaching children to be compassionate is never a bad thing

Kelowna - Teaching Mandarin in schools? That gets my vote.

Letter: Homeless Kelowna citizens need help now, not later

Long term solutions are needed and government has a role to play there.

Letter: Election loss in Kelowna blamed on racism

For decades I have written in the local press about racism.

Letter: Peachland watershed issues being recognized

We heard that an integrated response between industry and government is required

Most Read