Domestic violence capital of BC

Kelowna is still the domestic violence capital of British Columbia.

Statistics Canada says police were made aware of 446 victims of family violence in Kelowna in 2013, for a rate of 243.3 incidents per 100,000 people. That puts Kelowna at the top of the list for family violence in the province, and the 10th highest city per capita in Canada.

Those numbers are actually slightly down from census information in 2011, when 575 incidents were reported to police for a rate of 319 per 100,000. At that time, Kelowna was fourth in the nation for incidents of family violence (and still first in B.C.) 

Despite gains being made in the fight against domestic violence, the struggle continues for local resources in Kelowna.

Karen Mason, executive director at the Kelowna Women's Shelter, said the issue doesn't necessarily seem to be getting better from the shelter's perspective.

"We're funded for 16 beds and we're full most of the time," she said. "The reality is, in the work we do everyday, just in our bubble, we're full all the time. We're seeing these women and these children everyday." 

Mason said higher numbers could be because of higher rates of reporting in Kelowna, and not necessarily linked to more acts of violence than other centres.

"Getting stuck on the numbers takes away from the most important point: that domestic violence and violence against women is not a 'women's issue,' she said. "The reality is that so much of our culture and our society contribute to the attitudes that lead to violence against women and lead to people being disrespectful to one another."

RCMP spokesperson Kris Clark said the census data also needs some context.

"They're taking stats from Lake Country and West Kelowna so they tend to be a bit higher than if it was just Kelowna," he said. "We've been moving forward in Kelowna with a lot of positive initiatives, including the integrated embedded domestic violence unit. We've added a second RCMP officer to the unit as well as Ministry of Children and Family personnel that work hand-in-hand with those members."

Clark echoed the idea that higher numbers for domestic violence in Kelowna could be related to higher reporting as opposed to an actual higher rate than other cities.

"Even though we've made advances in investigating violence against women and families, there's always room for improvement and things that can be done to move forward."

Clark said it had not yet been determined whether any of the new officers joining the Kelowna RCMP would go towards the domestic violence unit. 


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