The head of the Kelowna RCMP detachment issued an apology Tuesday afternoon for the way the RCMP went about rolling out the provincial “safe place” program locally.
Supt. Kara Triance admitted the RCMP botched the rollout of the initiative when it launched the program in Kelowna without consulting locally with the community the program is meant to help.
The program is aimed at providing safe spaces for people in the LGBT2Q+ community if they need a place to call police and wait for help to arrive.
Businesses or organizations wishing to be part of the program would apply to the RCMP and display a decal.
However, the general manager of the Kelowna Pride Society said he first heard about the local RCMP rolling out the program from the media.
Dustyn Baulkham said that left him thinking: “What the heck is going on? Like why was the LGBT community not consulted?”
While the Pride Society said it appreciates the RCMP’s intention, it was concerned about the program being launched without input from the local community.
“We have all these unanswered questions about the program and the process,” Baulkham told Global News Tuesday morning.
“What support do businesses get? And the RCMP members who are showing up to this call, what training do they have?”
The lack of consultation also left the Pride Society wondering how the businesses are being vetted.
“There needs to be some vetting process; you can’t just submit your email and get a sticker dropped off,” said Baulkham.
“Putting lipstick on something doesn’t make it better; it might look good from the surface, but that’s about it.”
After the Pride Society publicly shared its concerns, the head of Kelowna’s RCMP detachment issued a mea culpa about how the provincial program was launched locally.
“Today I’ve had the privilege of speaking to the Kelowna Pride Society and offering my sincerest apologies for how we moved forward with the rollout of this program,” said Triance, at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.
The detachment said it’s now planning to put the program on hold and work with the Pride Society on the future of the initiative.
“I wish I could circle back and start this over again and have had those discussions beforehand,” Triance said.
“That was a poor rollout on my part, so I’m here today to say we are going to put a pause on it. Tomorrow we meet to discuss some of the really valid concerns.”
Police said more information about program details, like vetting of participating spaces, will be available in the coming days.