Panel looking into safety in downtown Calgary releases recommendations

Click to play video: 'Outreach, police station recommended to improve safety in Downtown Calgary'
Outreach, police station recommended to improve safety in Downtown Calgary
A panel tasked with finding ways to improve safety in downtown Calgary is putting forward its first recommendations for the city to act on. Adam MacVicar reports – Jan 11, 2024

The Downtown Safety Leadership Panel, which has been tasked with looking at ways to improve safety in Calgary’s downtown core, released its first recommendations Thursday.

The recommendations include returning a police station to the core and creating a specialized outreach services for people experiencing homelessness. The panel also suggested more funding for housing and specialized facilities for people struggling with mental health and addiction issues.

“What we did five years ago isn’t working, and I think we’ve heard very clearly through the consultations that we need to do things differently and we need to do things better going forward,” said Heather Morley, executive director with Inn from the Cold.

In a statement, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said “the initial recommendations provide tangible first steps that can be built upon to improve the downtown experience for all.”

The Calgary Police Service also welcomed the recommendations, saying the service is already working to expand the safety hub downtown, making the process of reporting crimes much easier.

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“To be able to address all concerns like more increased officer presence in the core but also accessibility so people can come and talk to us about their concerns,” Supt. Scott Boyd said.

The panel has consulted with more than 40 stakeholder groups since it was launched by Gondek in July 2023.

“We have found like-hearted like-minded people to be able to deliver on what needs to happen for the most vulnerable in our community, while taking into consideration the business concerns and the economics of downtown,” said Mark Garner with the Calgary Downtown Association.

The panel is expected to release a full report with findings and detailed recommendations in March, which will then be presented to council.

“There’s been a lot of reports that have been done over the years and they sit on shelves, and I think our core focus is this not going to be one that sits on a shelf,” Garner added.

— with files from Adam MacVicar

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