Kelowna Pride Society, RCMP meet to discuss 'Safe Place' program

RCMP meets Kelowna Pride

The RCMP met with Kelowna Pride on Thursday morning to address the recent controversy around the RCMP Safe Place program.

The program was halted Tuesday after the Kelowna RCMP received backlash for not including anyone from the LGBTQ community in its rollout.

The Safe Place program would allow ally businesses in Kelowna to display a poster in their window indicating to members of the LGBTQ community that if they are in distress, they can enter that business and safely wait for police.

The LGBTQ community raised concerns about safety and how police would screen members of the program, leading Supt. Kara Triance to apologize for the "misstep" and lack of consultation.

General Manager for Kelowna Pride Dustyn Baulkham called his group's meeting with Triance on Thursday "good" and "the result was what we hoped for."

"They had all of our questions in advance, so there wasn't any surprise as to what we were going to ask them."

Kelowna Pride went through their list of concerns with police, which Baulkham says were acknowledged.

"Part of [the meeting] was us understanding some of the process on the RCMP side of things and learning about their training," Baulkham continued.

There have been no official changes to the Safe Place program yet, but Baulkham says a 'working committee' was discussed, which would involve the RCMP, Kelowna Pride, and some other members of the community to ensure the program does exactly what its intended to do: keep members of the LGBTQ community safe when they are in unsafe situations.

"The key takeaway is that we will start a discussion and that they are open to our suggestions," Baulkham adds.

Tonight at 7:30 p.m., Kelowna Pride will host a town hall on its Facebook page to engage with the community and get more feedback from the public about this issue. Next week, Kelowna Pride will take the points made by the public at tonight's town hall to police at a second meeting.

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