Do you feel safe?
Crime used to be a fairly small part of our Kelowna society. But not anymore. Last week, Statistics Canada confirmed what many of us are feeling – that our city is becoming less safe.
Kelowna saw a double digit increase to our violent crime severity, with our percentage increase coming in at a whopping 14%! To put this in perspective, that is almost 12,000 violent crimes for every 100,000 people. That’s up by 7% over last year alone.
And we know that prolific offender and repeat offenders are an issue. In a letter from the Urban Mayors’ caucus to the Attorney General (David Eby at the time) this spring, it was noted that 15 offenders are responsible for over 1000 police interactions!
No wonder we aren’t feeling safe.
But this is not simply a policing issue. The budget for Kelowna’s police department has gone up by 84% over recent years. Throwing more money towards policing isn’t going to help unless there are other supports in place.
Our RCMP officers go into policing to solve crime, and to increase public safety. They need to be equipped and resourced to see this happen. Despite the arrests they make, the rest of the system is not functioning as it should, and these officers see these same offenders day after day. How could this not be demoralizing?
We need a different solution. Simply doubling down on a broken system with more money isn’t going to fix the problem. During the five years of (then) Minister David Eby’s time as Attorney General, violent crime severity is up 45%. And under David Eby and the BC NDP government, BC has seen a 75% increase in the rate of no-charge assessments and a 26% decrease in the number of accused being approved to go to court.
Meanwhile, in Kelowna, we are less safe. The system is broken, and we need to fix it.
I have written before on the need for complex care and believe wholeheartedly in this being a necessary part of the solution. This was promised and even announced in Kelowna but has not yet been financed or come to fruition. And again, this is solely under the government’s purview.
And our crime rate increases.
When the system is broken, people begin to take matters into their own hands. Here are just some examples as of late. A shop clerk runs out after being robbed and apprehends the suspect. A facebook group starts up to maintain a watch on theft and crime in Kelowna, called “Take Back Kelowna”. A retail worker recently quit citing unsafe conditions due to all the robberies and attacks – in their store in the mall.
Talked about in car pools and over dinner with neighbours, crime is a massive topic of concern for Kelowna. The RCMP are doing their part, but there is much more that could be done by government.
My question for you is two-fold this week: Do you feel safe in Kelowna, and what do you feel should be done to increase your safety?
I love hearing from you! Please email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call me at 250-712-3620.