In response to news that Kelowna has Canada’s fastest-growing crime rate, as well as the most opioid offences per-capita, RCMP are assuring the public the city is a safe place.
Data from 2019 released today by Statistics Canada shows that Kelowna’s crime rate is growing faster than any other city with more than 100,000 people across the country.
Kelowna also placed fourth among census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in the country on the Crime Severity Index at 121.4 — a more than 20 point increase from last year’s 101.1.
Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance stressed in an email tonight that, “Kelowna and the surrounding communities remain extremely safe.”
The Kelowna CMA includes the City of Kelowna, rural Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland and Lake Country.
The superintendent said the spike in crime rate could be a result of many things.
Pointing to the fourth overall ranking, she said a number of things affect this, including size of the community, a change in how crime is reported, and new programs addressing property crime.
She attributed Kelowna’s small size, as well as the many non-violent crimes of opportunity, such as property crime from vehicles, yards, or open garages, as a ‘key driver’ behind the increased numbers. Triance also said Kelowna’s ‘small population and very proactive RCMP detachments’ affects the number of reported crimes.
“It is the non-violent crime that appears to have adversely affected our ranking,” she said, adding that Kelowna’s CMA is ranked 14th in violent crime.
Triance said one or two prolific offenders who commit crimes like this, “can have a dramatic effect on the region’s crime statistics.”
In addition, a newly-implemented training strategy to standardize reporting throughout the province was implemented last year, something that was projected at the time to increase crime rate numbers.
That being said, RCMP in Kelowna have been monitoring these numbers, and say it has resulted in a number of changes and improvements to police services here.
These include focusing more on community partnerships with health organizations, outreach groups and social service agents, to address housing, mental health and poverty.
Also, six new officers in the community safety unit were hired, putting more uniformed officers downtown Kelowna and in Rutland. Patrols have been increased on Friday and Saturday nights.
RCMP have also focused more on their investigative support teams, which they say in turn helps frontline officers tackle complex, serious investigations.
A new online crime reporting tool has also been launched for locals to use.
“It is our belief that these changes better allow us to serve our community in the region and help disrupt criminals that may be in the area,” said Triance.
The superintendent added they will be reviewing these new statistics to determine how they can actively reduce and prevent crimes of opportunity, and ultimately reduce the regions’ crime severity rating going forward.
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