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City wants to measure how safe you feel in downtown Kelowna

Downtown Kelowna is pictured in this photo from Flickr.
Image Credit: forester 401 via Flickr
April 15, 2016 - 4:30 PM

PERCEPTION OF DANGER JUST AS IMPORTANT AS ACTUAL RISK WHEN MEASURING ATTITUDES

KELOWNA - City officials want you to be safe in downtown Kelowna but just as importantly, they want you to feel safe and if you don’t, they want to know why.

That’s why policy and planning manager James Moore wants to insert a couple of new questions in the annual citizens survey; to help better measure that sense of safety and use it to set planning and operational priorities.

"There is actual safety as in ‘are you at risk’ but there’s also people’s perceptions of safety which can be quite different,” Moore says.

He admits such a qualitative evaluation can vary wildly depending on the person, but its inclusion in the statistically-valid survey will give planners something to measure against such quantitative indicators as local RCMP crime statistics and ICBC accident reports.

“When survey comes out, if we get sense that something is changing either way, we can look at relative to the quantitative data,” he explains.

“If people say they don’t feel safe and crime is up, we can do something. But if there’s a disconnect, with people saying they don’t feel safe but crime is down or even the other way around, then we will drill down deeper to find out why.”

The indicators from the RCMP are the number of crimes against persons and property, plus controlled substance and liquor violations. ICBC provides the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries.

While a sense of safety might seem abstract, Moore says it’s an important part of the downtown plan, adopted by council in 2012, with the goal of attracting more people and private sector investment to that area of the city.

“If the idea of the overall plan is to get more people downtown, the more people there is, the more eyes on the street there are, there’s more activity and people feel safer,” he says. “If they feel safe there, they are more likely to move there or invest there. You get a positive cycle going.”

The next citizens survey is due in 2017.

Moore will brief Kelowna council on the proposed changes on Monday, April 18.


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