Kelowna's community safety plan will try to move beyond police-oriented responses alone

New approach to policing

The City of Kelowna hopes to have a new community safety plan in place by the spring of next year.

And, if the plan comes together as community safety director Darren Caul envisions, it will "move beyond police-oriented responses alone."

"Crime and public safety are challenges confronting all Canadian municipalities," Caul told council Monday.

"For too long communities have over relied on police and the criminal justice system alone to reduce crime and victimization in our communities. Community safety cannot rest on the shoulders of police alone.

"Our knowledge of what works in crime prevention has increased substantially in the last 20 years. We need to build on that knowledge and evidence-based practices."

He says the plan, when presented to council next spring, proposes to take a systems-based approach.

Caul says community safety is a responsibility shared by all members of the community, and required an integrated approach.

A steering committee will be established for the project to help develop the plan.

The committee will include representatives from provincial ministries, Interior Health, the school board and others.

However, much to the dismay of Coun. Ryan Donn, members of the public will not be part of that planning process.

Instead, the public, along with other key stakeholders including Indigenous people, business leaders, not-for profit organizations, faith-based groups, people with lived experience and others, will be part of an engagement ;process.

"I feel we are missing the public on the (steering) committee. We are missing the outside voice and that perspective that we, as councillors, are hearing all the time," said Donn.

"I feel if we are going to call this a community plan, we should have members of the general public represented on the committee."

In response, city manager Doug Gilchrist says the public's input is critical to the plan, but added the city has already heard from the public on other, similar matters, such as development of the Journey Home initiative and the city's citizen survey.

Those responses, he said, will help shape the plan.

Donn, for that reason, was the lone councillor to vote against moving forward.

"Too often the police have been looked at as the agency to deal with all things, much on social and health items," said Coun. Brad Sieben.

"I think this is a step in the right direction to try and re-allocate those resources.

Coun. Loyal Wooldridge said police shoulder too heavy a burden, a system he says is not "sustainable or effective."

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