Can improved urban design help to quell property crime?
The city thinks so and hopes to see Kamloops RCMP partner with the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, North Shore Business Association and Kamloops Chamber of Commerce to promote crime prevention as property crime continues to rise in Kamloops.
Mayor Ken Christian said property owners can do their part.
“I think we’re at a juncture,” Christian told the city’s community protective services committee on Monday afternoon.
The city meets regularly with protective services and social agencies. Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky reported that in the third quarter of this year (July 1 to Sept. 30), reported property crime increased by 3.5 per cent over the same time last year: 2,690 offences in 2019, compared to 2,596 in 2018.
In addition to beefing up street checks by more than 25 per cent, the city is looking at involving the public.
A city staffer has been working to become CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design)-certified and Lecky told the committee police are working with a local hotel to use it as an example of how to best protect property from crime.
Coun. Dale Bass pointed to longstanding businesses in Valleyview reporting more theft. She wondered if businesses will face more issues as the thermometer drops, given a gap in shelter space due to Out of the Cold continuing to search for a new home.
“I can’t make that connection just yet,” Lecky said, though he noted most theft/break-ins occur to gain access to quick money and not for a warm night’s sleep.
Out of the Cold previously operated two nights per week out of St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral downtown during the coldest months of the year. However, the agency continues to struggle to find a new location. Conversations continue throughout the community.
“At this point, we don’t have a spot,” city community and protective services director Byron McCorkell said.
As shelter space remains up in the air, the city is also working to tackle the issue of homelessness via its Safe and Secure Working Group, which meets every two weeks. Other social initiatives underway include a riverbank clean-up program by residents of The Branch in North Kamloops (The Branch shelter will continue to operate until the Emerald House supportive housing project downtown opens), a West Victoria Street clean-up program by Mustard Seed and mapping discarded sharps to identify locations to add collection boxes.
Kamloops and other communities have been mired in an opioid crisis. Kamloops Fire Rescue, however, reported a decline in Naloxone administration in the third quarter of this year. It was administered 15 times from July through September, compared to 37 times during the same period in 2018 and 39 times in 2017. KFR Chief Mike Adams said there is higher awareness and more people are now educated in how to administer the life-saving medicine.