Meetings are underway between LGBTQ community and RCMP on restart of safe places program

Ready to restart 'safe place'

A program designed to provide a safe shelter for members of the LGBTQ community should be back up and running in Kelowna soon.

Under the Safe Places program, businesses displaying a sticker in their window would be a safe haven for those in distress while waiting for the RCMP.

The program was unveiled in February, but quickly halted after members of the LGBTQ community complained it was rolled out too quickly without proper consultation.

The backlash prompted the establishment of a formal working group involving the Kelowna Pride Society, RCMP and community members and stakeholders who have expressed an interest in the program.

Officials with Kelowna Pride now say many of the issues raised two months ago have been addressed by the group.

Other areas of focus have included:

  • the extent of training provided to both the RCMP officers and businesses/organizations who sign up for the Program
  • ways to evaluate, assess and sustain the program in the long term
  • opportunities to best support LGBTQ community members
  • the need for ongoing collaboration and relationship between the RCMP and the Pride community in Kelowna

“As a group, we acknowledge that this will not be an easy venture, and we are not striving for perfection," said Kelowna Pride spokesperson Fahmy Baharuddin.

"However, we do believe that, together, programs such as these can exist without additional harm, while bringing positive changes to the LGBT2Q+ and BIMPOC communities. We know there has been a lot of discussion in Kelowna regarding this Program, and we would like to thank everyone for their input, patience and support so far.”

The group says its main objective is to collaborate with the RCMP to get the program up and running again.

While there is no set date for a relaunch of the program, the aim is to have it implemented as soon as possible.

In the meantime, anyone wishing to become a part of the working group is invited to submit their contact information.

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