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Do you feel safe in downtown Kelowna?

Click to play video: 'Survey says some don’t feel safe in downtown Kelowna'
Survey says some don’t feel safe in downtown Kelowna
Survey says some don’t feel safe in downtown Kelowna – Nov 7, 2017

Do you feel safe in Kelowna’s downtown core?

According to the most recent city survey most people do but some do not.

Twenty per cent of survey respondents said they did not feel comfortable about their safety.

Leon Avenue is where people feel most unsafe followed by City Park.

They are areas where open drug use has been on the increase.

The man who runs Kelowna’s Gospel Mission says the safety concerns are based on optics, adding people shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on what they see.

“What we’re seeing on the streets today are indications of a lack of housing,” said Randy Benson. “People don’t have anywhere to go. So I think the visibility is much greater today and that raises the level of unrest and uncertainty in people’s minds.”

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RCMP Sgt. Greg Woodcox’s beat is the downtown area. He says the safety concerns are a reflection of a growing city.

“I think throughout the whole city there’s more people, whether it be the chronically addicted people or homeless individuals. It is alarming and I think that’s just because the city is growing at such an exponential rate,” Woodcox said.

Clay Bonthoux lives on the streets of Kelowna. He says if people want to feel safe downtown the government is going to have to step up to the plate.

“People out here just want to survive. They want a place to stay. It’s a city-wide problem and the only people that are actually going to solve it are the higher class citizens and the politicians,” Bonthoux said.

The mayor concedes there are legitimate safety concerns in the downtown area but says the city is trying to do something about it including increasing enforcement.

“Over the last four or five years the City of Kelowna has hired 23 new RCMP officers to help deal with the influx of crime and have more boots on the ground,” said Basran. “Secondly, we’ve hired more bylaw officers to help enforce bylaws.”

He says the city is putting together a homeless plan involving all levels of government.

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Judging by the optics that plan can’t come soon enough.

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