Calgary city council unanimously voted Tuesday to approve a new community-based public safety task force that will address an increase in violent crime.
The notice of motion was originally brought forward by Ward 5 councillor George Chahal and Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
Chahal envisions a collection of community stakeholders and volunteers who would review existing programs and services related to gangs and gun violence, as well as crime prevention, and report back to council with advice and recommendations.
“It’s about sitting around a table, learning, working together and bringing innovative ideas forward,” he said.
Members of Calgary police and representatives from the police commission will also be part of the discussions.
Chahal said the city will work over the coming weeks to develop the mandate and scope of the task force and identify organizations and agencies that may be interested in being part of the team.
“We already had a number of community members interested in participating, but I think it has to be broad-based. We’ll be looking at folks from academia to community organizations so we have the right balance and fit,” he said.
“We also want don’t want the task force to be too large, which is not manageable. We want to make sure we get the right size and the right members of the community to provide the right insight into the work we’re looking at doing.”
Chahal said that because the task force is a collection of volunteers, the only real costs he anticipates are for setting up meeting spaces. Nenshi said those minimal expenses could be paid for by the mayor’s office.
According to a recent report, criminal activity involving firearms in Calgary remains significantly above the five-year average.