City needs full-time manager to take lead in fighting homelessness, crime in downtown in Kelowna: report - InfoNews

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City needs full-time manager to take lead in fighting homelessness, crime in downtown in Kelowna: report

A Kelowna RCMP officer and a Kelowna bylaw officer on patrol in downtown Kelowna.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
April 04, 2019 - 4:59 PM

KELOWNA - Lance Kayfish is taking the lead when it comes to increasing safety in Kelowna.

Formerly known as the City of Kelowna’s Risk Manager, Kayfish was shifted into the Acting Director of Community Safety in October and is recommending to city council that he take on that position full time going forward.

“It’s putting a dedicated resource there rather than having it off to the side of one or two people's desks,” Kayfish told iNFOnews.ca today, April 4.

In his acting role, Kayfish was assigned the task of reviewing the community safety report presented to council last fall by former RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon. His response was released with the council agenda today and will be discussed by council Monday.

In it, he has responses to all 21 of McKinnon’s recommendations.

Topping McKinnon’s list was a directive that the city no longer sit back and let community organizations and other agencies deal with crime and homelessness. Instead, it needs to take an active role in coordinating and leading those efforts.

There are now more than 40 committees, agencies and working groups dealing with these issues, Kayfish states in his report. Those include health, law enforcement, shelters and human services.

“As new tables and organizations are formed… it only makes sense the system of community committees is reviewed to ensure ongoing relevance, efficiency and to avoid duplication,” Kayfish wrote.

Work has been done to “map” the current committee structure but more needs to be done.

He’s recommending a Social Policy Framework be drafted to set out roles and responsibilities for these groups and focus on priorities.

He also plans to meet periodically with business groups to “share information and ideas about community perceptions of safety, enforcement needs and upstream solutions to respond to the opioid crises, homelessness and other issues.” That will start in May.

His report outlines the need to improve information and data sharing between agencies. The city has hired a consultant to “address gaps in communication around social issues.”

He suggests the city should work with other local governments to lobby senior governments for support.

A full-time Security Manager to oversee private security needs should be filled sometime around June and Kayfish plans to ask for more money for private security before the final budget is approved this spring.

He is asking council to help efforts to create a Community Court by lobbying the B.C. Attorney General.

Kayfish is considering creating a permanent safe injection site. Currently there is a mobile unit.

A “Homeless Simulator” is being created to combat the stigma around homelessness.

A “design lab” will be organized to advise the City on issues around emergency shelters.

Efforts are being made to find alternative housing for the homeless when the Cornerstone Emergency shelter closes in June.

There are no immediate plans to build more washrooms or water fountains downtown or improve transit options for the homeless.

Results of Kelowna’s first survey of public perception of public safety will be presented to council April 15. An RCMP plan for operations during the peak tourist months this summer will be presented to council this month as well.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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