The results of a recently released citizen’s survey in Penticton, B.C. reveals residents feel the city is less safe than when respondents were previously polled in 2013.
The 2019 Citizen Survey was voluntary and ran from April 18 to May 3. The online survey was completed by 1, 171 citizens and the results will help city council develop their strategic priorities.
Overall, 68 per cent of participants rate their quality of life in Penticton as good (4/5) or excellent (5/5) although 58 per cent believe it has decreased over the past three years.
According to the survey, residents said the perception of Penticton as a safe place declined from an average score of 4 out of 5 in 2013 to 2.9 in 2019. Just 36 per cent of participants gave Penticton a good (4/5) or excellent (5/5) rating as a safe place to live.
WATCH: Dozens protest Penticton’s plan to ban sitting on downtown sidewalks (May 2019)
When it comes to the top three city priorities, improving safety and security ranked at the top, followed by smart growth and development and advancing environmental initiatives and practices.
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“We’re thrilled that so many citizens took the time to give us their feedback,” said Mayor John Vassilaki.
Issues of homelessness, vagrancy drug addiction, and petty crime have been thrust into the spotlight in recent months as winter shelters close and complex societal issues are more visible on the streets of Penticton during the summer months.
In June, a Penticton mother called for action after her daughter was struck by vehicle while attempting to cross a busy highway in an effort to avoid a person using drugs in the Skaha Lake road underpass.
Another Penticton woman also came forward calling on the city to clean up public parks and beaches after her niece allegedly stepped on a discarded needle.
Alarmed by the increase in discarded needles, concerned citizens Tyson Miller and Jennifer Young started a new community group called Project Penticton to organize community beach clean-ups.
WATCH: Growing calls to combat discarded needles in Penticton after child allegedly poked in park (June 2019)
In May, city council endorsed a plan to ban sitting or lying on sidewalks in the downtown core during the tourism season to discourage loitering, prompting protests by anti-poverty advocates who said it was discriminatory.
Vassilaki said the citizen survey results quantify how wide-spread concerns about public safety are in the community.
“The findings confirmed Council’s view that feelings of safety and security in the city is the most pressing concern,” Vassilaki said in a news release. “They also showed that we need to pay attention to how we manage growth and how we impact the environment as we look ahead.”