Report on how Kelowna should tackle downtown problems coming Monday

City’s former top cop, Bill McKinnon will present his report and recommendations to council Nov. 26

Former Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon will present his findings and recommendations about how to improve public safety Nov. 26 in a report to city council.

The now retired former top cop was hired by the city in June to work with senior levels of government, social service agencies and community organizations to find ways to ensure the public feels safe on our streets and to develop recommendations to tackle the complex conditions that contribute to public safety.

The recommendations in his report look at all aspects of public safety: from various types of enforcement, to health services, to how a lack of basic necessities for those experiencing homelessness contribute to growing issues around public cleanliness and safety.

“My primary recommendation to council encourages the city to lead a collaborative committee that would meet routinely to deal with the social impacts that are being experienced today,” said McKinnon.

“This type of initiative requires leadership from the City of Kelowna because, at the end of the day, the city is left with community outcomes such as public safety, cleanliness, security and enforcement costs, and damage to infrastructure.”

McKinnon has said he does not feel the city can “arrest its way out” of the current problems it has, especially in its downtown core.

Over the past few months, McKinnon has met with more than 60 individuals and organizations. He has already suggested a few initiatives that have already helped improve the situation in a number of neighbourhoods.

“This is an extremely complex subject—but the parties I spoke with all told me they are willing and excited to work more closely together. They see the benefit in a collaborative approach.”

Recommendations in the report are a variety of measures that can be taken until the housing and support work currently underway through the Journey Home strategy—the city’s initiative to address homelessness—is fully established. A number of the recommendations will need further study and city staff will report back to council in early 2019 with an implementation plan.

“Ultimately, the Journey Home strategy is the right approach for Kelowna,” said McKinnon. “My report outlines the actions that we can take during this crisis period to mitigate some of the social impacts we’re experiencing today. Everything we undertake today should align and support the work that is currently underway to see our most vulnerable citizens housed and supported.”

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