Property crime appears to have jumped around new supportive housing projects in Kelowna - InfoNews

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Property crime appears to have jumped around new supportive housing projects in Kelowna

Heath House, a supportive housing project, in Kelowna.
July 11, 2019 - 6:00 PM

KELOWNA - Crime in the neighbourhood of two recently opened supportive housing projects in Kelowna seems to have gone up by as much as 38 per cent – but exact numbers are not currently available.

Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers puts out a map every four weeks showing property crimes recorded throughout the city. It includes bike and car thefts, theft from cars and assaults.

A review of those maps shows an increase in crime for one comparable time period of about 38 per cent in the neighbourhoods surrounding Hearthstone (on Commerce Avenue near Highway 97) and Heath House, a couple of blocks away on the east side of Highway 97.

That’s for the time period of May 28 to June 24, 2018, before either facility opened versus the same four-week period this year. It shows 18 crimes were recorded during those four weeks this year versus 13 in 2018.

Hearthstone opened in October 2018 and Heath House in January. They are supportive housing with a total of 86 units to house the homeless. Residents are allowed to consume drugs and/or alcohol in their own rooms.

While the 38 per cent number appears dramatic, it is a snapshop of one four-week period. Analyzed over a longer time frame, the real number may be closer to eight percent, and even that may be affected by the format of the data. took maps provided by Crime Stoppers for 2018 up until the most current one ending June 23. We took, as the affected neighbourhood, an area roughly bounded by Highway 33 and McCurdy Road, Mill Creek and Gerstmar/Dallas roads.

That meant counting the number of symbols on each map for crimes in that area. Since not all weeks were included and not all maps covered the same length of time, we calculated the average number of crimes per day.

From Dec. 25, 2017 until the end of September 2018, there was an average of .53 crimes per day in that area.

From Nov. 5, 2018 – after Hearthstone opened - to June 23, 2019, the average rose to .57 crimes per day, an 8.2 per cent increase.

The numbers are also for crimes committed but not calls to the police that might be complaints about loitering, trespassing or drug use.

Crime Stoppers could not provide the raw data for the crime stats, saying the maps were compiled by the RCMP. The RCMP, in an email, said they are “unable to accurately track the stats surrounding supportive housing complexes, due to the complexity of the process at this time. Although we can count the calls to a particular address or addresses, that does not necessarily accurately account for the crime in the surrounding area(s).”

But, in his April 26 quarterly update on crime stats to city council, RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle did separate out an increase in downtown property crime and downtown person offences.

In response to a followup request for the raw data used by Crime Stoppers, RCMP Cpl. Jesse O'Donaghey said, in an email: "Respectfully, the raw crime stat information is police data and not available for release."

In contrast, an RCMP report to Nanaimo city council in April provided their council with stats on calls for service in the vicinity of two temporary housing projects that opened in late November and early December 2018. Those showed a 250 per cent increase in calls for the Labieux building and a 66 per cent increase for Terminal Park.

Those two buildings, however, totaled 170 units and were put up to house people living in the Discontent City tent camp so may not house the same kind of residents as those in Kelowna.

Crime Stoppers map of crimes from May 27 to June 23, 2019
Crime Stoppers map of crimes from May 27 to June 23, 2019
Image Credit: Submitted/Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers

Crime Stoppers map of crimes from May 28 to June 24, 2018
Crime Stoppers map of crimes from May 28 to June 24, 2018
Image Credit: Submitted/Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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