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Few members of the public able to speak at Vancouver council meeting on crime, public safety

Click to play video: 'Addressing violent crime and public safety concerns in Vancouver' Addressing violent crime and public safety concerns in Vancouver
Vancouver's mayor has called a special council meeting to discuss violent crime in the city, a motion first put forward by Vancouver city councillor Melissa De Genova. She joins Global News Morning to discuss her concerns. – Apr 26, 2022

Vancouver City Council held a special meeting Thursday night with a focus on public safety.

The meeting was meant to offer residents a chance to voice concerns and propose solutions to violent crime and public safety issues in the city.

However, after extensive statements and questions from council to key stakeholders, little time was left for the public.

Only a handful of public speakers were able to share their thoughts and concerns, with more than 50 people who signed up to speak deferred to a second meeting scheduled for May 10.

“It’s taken me two years to convince this council that’s something we need to do,” Vancouver Coun. Melissa De Genova, who spearheaded the initiative, told Global News.

Read more: Vancouver council rejects use of CCTV cameras to combat crime

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“Public safety is a core service in the City of Vancouver. And residents, people who work in Vancouver, anyone who wants to come into Vancouver and doesn’t feel safe can sign up on the city website.”

Along with residents, representatives of Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Police Department, the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association, and several other groups spoke and took questions from council.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver council debates expansion of CCTV cameras over crime concerns' Vancouver council debates expansion of CCTV cameras over crime concerns
Vancouver council debates expansion of CCTV cameras over crime concerns – Apr 27, 2022

Crime and public safety are shaping up to be an election issue in the coming October municipal vote.

Vancouver police say the city is seeing about four random assaults per day, and business owners, particularly in the downtown core, have reported increases in violent shoplifting, broken windows and graffiti.

Vancouver police crime statistics paint a more nuanced picture.

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Read more: ‘Unacceptable’: VPD says 4 in 10 non-emergency calls going unanswered

Violent crime was up 1.5 per cent citywide in the first quarter of 2022 over the same period of 2021, however, there were double-digit increases in robberies and sex assaults in the downtown core, robberies on the west side and assaults in southeast Vancouver.

Robberies were down by significant margins across East Vancouver, however, as were sex assaults in southeast Vancouver and assaults on the west side.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver city councillor proposes free parking to curb crime in Chinatown' Vancouver city councillor proposes free parking to curb crime in Chinatown
Vancouver city councillor proposes free parking to curb crime in Chinatown – Apr 7, 2022

Over the same period, property crime was up 24.5 per cent citywide, with large increases in theft, theft from vehicles and theft of vehicles up across the city. Break-ins, however, were down seven per cent citywide and more than 30 per cent downtown.

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Read more: ‘It’s a fortress’: Why Chinatown is seen as a bellwether for business security in Vancouver

Over a longer time period, reported crimes have actually remained stable or decreased since 2019.

In the last full pre-pandemic year, the 5,820 violent crimes were reported to the VPD, or 8.4 per 100,000 population, compared to 5,865, or 8.46 per 100,000 population, in 2021.

In 2019 there were 44,582 reported property crimes, 64.34 per 100,000 people, reported in the city, compared to 28,733, 41.45 per 100,000 people, in 2021.

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