Survey says: Crime concern growing in Kelowna

City sanctioned survey shows sense of safey drops at night

Kelowna city council will review a survey about perceptions of crime at its meeting on Monday. (Capital News file)

A survey conducted for the City of Kelowna shows while most residents feel very safe in their neighbourhoods and homes during the day, their sense of safety drops substantially when night falls.

The survey, conducted by NRG Research Group as a “deeper dive” following increased perceptions of crime in the most recent annual Kelowna Citizen’s Survey, showed while a total of 99 per cent of respondents said they felt very safe (72 per cent) or somewhat safe (27 per cent) in their neighbourhoods during the day, only 43 per cent of respondents felt very safe at night, with another 39 per cent saying they felt somewhat safe night.

The survey breaks the city into four areas—central Kelowna (including downtown), east and east central Kelowna, north and north east Kelowna and south Kelowna. And according to its findings, residents of central Kelowna are “significantly less likely” than those in other areas to feel very, or somewhat, safe in their neighbourhood at night.

The survey showed that 51 per cent respondents blame the homeless and drug users for what they believe to be an increase in crime.

READ MORE: Kelowna finally responds to downtown crime report

Overall, 28 per cent of respondents said they have been the victim of a crime in the last 12 months in the city.

In recent years, the Kelowna RCMP has said the overall crime rate in Kelowna has dropped, but some aspects of crime, such as property crime, remain high.

The survey showed nearly one quarter of respondents believe the property crime rate has increased in their neighbourhood and 50 per cent across the entire city fell it has gone up.

As for crimes against individuals, overall, just over eight in 10 people (81 per cent) said they never, or rarely, worry about being robbed or mugged on the street. Two-thirds of respondents (67 per cent) said they never, or rarely, worry about having their car stolen or their home burglarized.

When respondents were asked to identify where they feel crime occurs, they most often mentioned the Rutland area and downtown.

Perceptions about downtown crime has driven business and the police to increase level of security in the area in the last year and the issue of downtown crime was key during the last municipal election in October.

In 2018, the city hired former RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon to look at what can be done to address crime downtown and he came back with 21 recommendations for the city to follow.

READ MORE: Kelowna needs to take the lead with crime and homelessness, says former top cop

In its conclusion, the survey report says while eight in 10 residents feel their neighbourhood in the city is clean and well-maintained and a large majority feel safe during the day, going forward the city should focus on crime prevention plans dealing with property crime.

The survey was conducted Feb 7 to March 6 and 300 people over the age of 18 were contacted by phone. The survey has a margin of error of 5.7 per cent at the 95 per cent level of confidence.

The full survey results can be seen on the city’s website here.

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