City and business clash over public safety issues in Kelowna - InfoNews

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City and business clash over public safety issues in Kelowna

April 13, 2019 - 7:30 AM

KELOWNA - Lance Kayfish doesn’t know what all the fuss is about with Kelowna’s business community.

The City of Kelowna’s Director of Community Safety did meet with representatives of business groups to talk about his plans to tackle crime and homelessness. After that meeting, those groups issued news releases attacking his approach.

“We had a conversation and still didn’t end up seeing eye to eye,” he told iNFOnews.ca. “I’m not quite sure where the disconnect is. We’re absolutely committed to moving forward and I very much value our relationship with the Chamber of Commerce and the (Downtown Kelowna Association).”

At issue is his response earlier this week to former RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon’s November report on public safety.

“The Chamber doesn’t understand why the City has chosen not to endorse a key recommendation (by McKinnon) that called for the City to take a leadership role in bringing together all stakeholders, including those businesses being impacted by increased crime and vandalism,” reads the news release signed by Chamber of Commerce President Nikki Csek and Executive Director Dan Rogers.

From Kayfish’s perspective, forming another committee to go with the 40 already operating in the city may be needed but it’s not his first priority.

“One of the most pressing issues our community is facing right now is the question of what our needs are in respect to shelters, including the best place to locate them,” Kayfish said. “We decided the best way to deliver on that very important issue quickly was to use a proven methodology and process that was used in the Journey Home process. We refer to it as a design lab but, really, it’s a big facilitated committee. It’s a very structured, proven methodology of getting feedback, input and collaboration occurring. We’re in the process of vigorously planning to hold one shortly, maybe as early as next month.”

The process will be led by the Journey Home society, which is focused on tackling homelessness. Business will be included.

That’s not the focus of the Chamber’s concerns, Rogers told iNFOnews.ca.

“The work Journey Home is about to undertake and is undertaking has been very supported by the Chamber,” he said. “Much of what we’re hearing from our members is related to increased vandalism and criminal activity and drug dealing. It’s not the homeless. It’s the criminals that are infiltrating the downtown that are causing concern. That’s an RCMP issue and we’ll continue to raise it with the RCMP.”

The Chamber’s letter also points to Kamloops where a former mayor led a community committee. Rogers said that was a good example of political leadership being effective.

Kayfish countered by saying that different cities do things differently. But, he’s not disregarding the suggestion and will investigate further.

“These are challenging issues,” Rogers said. “We thought having everybody at the same table (was the best way to go). But they’re going to choose a different way to engage and we’ll work through that and make sure the voices of our members and the people we represent are heard.”

Kayfish said there are different ways to lead. Sometimes that means supporting others, like Journey Home, who lead on certain issues.

“We felt, from a strategic perspective, the best way to deliver on the intent of the recommendation wasn’t a single committee but rather a variety of approaches to make sure that collaboration and engagement occurs,” Kayfish said.  “The city is committed to leading. We just want to do it strategically and effectively. Sometimes, to build a good team, to build a good mechanism to get to a solution, is going to take some time.

Anecdotally, Rogers said, the business community throughout the city is not seeing any reduction in vandalism or crime and that is creating some frustration.


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