In response to Kelowna’s reported spike in crime, the mayor says community safety is not the sole responsibility of the RCMP.
Mayor Colin Basran said Friday (Oct. 30) he’s concerned about the reported increase, but like the RCMP also stated yesterday, believes there are many factors that affect this.
He pointed to the fact the 2020 Citizens Survey shows 87 per cent of citizens say they feel safe in Kelowna.
This comes after 2019 data released Thursday 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 placed second in non-violent crime, and 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.
Since then, Kelowna RCMP has responded, saying the crime rate spike is largely to do with an increase in non-violent crime, and the City’s small population. They assured the public the city remains safe.
While the City works to address criminal behavior in Kelowna, Basran said they need senior levels of government, “to address the underlying problems of health, housing and poverty that contribute to these downstream issues.”
He added he has been involved in recent discussions with the B.C. government about the need to improve services that address mental health and addiction, affordable housing, municipal financing and public transit.
“Community safety cannot rest on the shoulder of police alone. A multi-pronged preventative approach is needed to reduce crime and improve community sense of safety in our city,” said Basran.
However, he said he is encouraged by, “the many other initiatives” RCMP and the City are doing to address community safety. He pointed to recent news that a Community Court is coming to Kelowna, something he hailed as “a huge win” for the community.
He assured that public that they, as well as other local safety groups and health organizations, are working hard every day to address concerns. He also pointed to the City’s investment of one quarter of all tax dollars in police and bylaw services. And, he said since 2015, 24 RCMP, 20 firefighters, 10 bylaw, and 31 safety support staff have been approved by Council.
Going forward, Basran said they will continue to ensure, “the public feels safe to enjoy our downtown and other public spaces, that criminals are dealt with through enforcement and that those who need help receive compassionate assistance.”
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