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Crime

Kelowna calls in reinforcements to increase safety in the downtown core

The City of Kelowna is ramping up patrols of the downtown core.

RCMP say property crime is on the rise in the area, and a city survey report released in November 2017 showed that 19 per cent of people felt unsafe at times in some areas of downtown Kelowna.

“Well, I think we’ve heard from citizens, we’ve heard from businesses, we’ve seen it ourselves,” said Deputy City Manager Joe Creron. “I mean, there seems to be a huge influx of people in the downtown [area] and we’re really here to first of all help the homeless, but if they’re involved in criminal activity, we need to make sure we deal with that.”

READ MORE: Highly anticipated homelessness strategy approved in Kelowna

The City of Kelowna has announced new measures to combat criminal behaviour, at least for the busy summer months.

Four joint RCMP and bylaw bike teams will be on patrol all summer, seven days a week.

There will also be a more visible police presence in Kelowna on foot and in cruisers.

“Two of our officers were school resource officers and once school was out, those officers joined the bike patrol unit and that’s where they will serve the summer months,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

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In addition, city council has approved the hiring of four additional RCMP officers and four new bylaw officers this year, and is in the process of filling those positions.

READ MORE: Groundbreaking for controversial homeless housing complex in Kelowna

“And I suspect this year you’ll see the RCMP asking for more RCMP officers because they, too, have seen an increase in the needs of the community,” Creron said.

As for helping the increasing homeless population, city council also endorsed the “Journey Home” strategy to facilitate more affordable housing in Kelowna.

As a start, the construction of 46 modular housing units with around-the-clock support services has begun on Commerce Avenue.

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