In late 2018, the City contracted Randy Churchill Consulting for Municipalities to complete a Safer Community Plan providing recommendations to address crime and disorder, which resulted in the Quesnel Safer Plan.
The following are the Quesnel Safer Plan recommendations and the actions taken by the City:
The Safer Working Group is a team from multiple city departments that reviews concerns put forth by the Public Safety and Policing committee with the goal of addressing issues of nuisances and community disturbances. This team will advise on various tools available to address these issues and areas where policies or tools may need to be improved. This team will also obtain connections to various partners and stakeholders in the community whose resources may assist in solutions such as health agencies, business associations, housing agencies, etc.
UPDATE: The team has been established and have begun identifying areas of concern and opportunities to address identified problems.
Spirit Square Bylaw Enforcement Office
Randy Churchill was pleased the City had already initiated the Spirit Square Bylaw Office to increase visibility of bylaw enforcement and RCMP in the downtown to minimize disturbance and crime. It was encouraged to create this as the official office space of the Bylaw Department.
UPDATE: The Bylaw Enforcement Team relocated to the Spirit Centre downtown over the summer season. In addition Council increased the number Bylaw Enforcement officers to 3 full time and 2 seasonal officers. As a result of this increased presence in the community we have had reports from the downtown that there has been a decrease in some nuisance behaviours.
Private security patrollers to be “eyes”
Currently the City uses private security for special events to increase presence. These have been isolated cases and typically the additional security works in isolation or with some limited connections with city resources such as bylaw, RCMP and public works.
At the recent curling championships effort was made to increase communications between all these groups to expand information on any issues of disorder that occur. The goal was to strengthen information sharing, insuring all were more aware of the atmosphere and potential causes of concern. The increased presence of security in the evenings and these heightened communications contributed a successful event with minimal disturbances reported.
UPDATE: Continue to work on developing relationships between our private security companies, Bylaw Enforcement and RCMP.
‘Who do you Call’ information brochure
A ‘who do you call’ information card for the downtown was distributed to businesses along with a repeat of the information businesses need to know about panhandling and what to do when there is aggressive panhandling.
The Safer Quesnel Plan identified that our RCMP members have significant amount of call volumes. This hampers their ability to complete strategic initiatives on crime reduction.
UPDATE: As part of the 2019 budgeting process Council approved adding 2 officers to the authorized complement of officers funded in the City.
Continue the Community Caring for Persons with Addictions Roundtable (CCPA) and the implementation of actions.
The CCPA was initiated two years ago to help the community work through issues related to supporting persons with addictions and the growing opioid crisis. Communication and collaboration of a multitude of stakeholders is required to deal with the health and social services delivery of persons impacted with addictions and mental health issues. The committee commissioned the development of a Quesnel Health Services Review. This review identified a number of recommendations to improve health services for persons with addictions to improve their chances for recovery.
ACTION: The City obtained and is administering a grant for the Community Action Initiative for a health services coordinator to administer the actions from the Health Services Review. The Coordinator is working with CCPA to ensure the actions are researched for viability and are championed with a lead agency.
Utilize Good Neighbour Agreement Process to address neighbourhood issues and build respectful relationships.
Good Neighbour Agreements are a best practice to address community concerns when fulfilling needs for Health & Social services. The agreement is to set out parameters and processes for addressing any issues that may arise, ensuring there is complaint and communication process, and ultimately building good relationships.
ACTION: A Good Neighbour Agreement was reached between the Shelter and Support Society, City and the RCMP for the new Elliott Street supportive housing facility. The Quesnel Shelter and Support Society whom operate the facility held their first meeting to introduce the agreement and will hold additional meetings as the development proceeds.
Additional work to support the Health and Social Services Role.
UPDATE: The City is supporting the United Way and Canada Mental Health Association in requests for funding for two positions which will help support mental health outreach and food security in the community.
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design is a set of design principles used to discourage crime. When CPTED is put into practice the results discourage or impeded criminal behaviour while at the same time encouraging honest citizens to keep a watchful eye.
Engage professional to focus on areas of current stress from disorder.
There are individuals and organizations whom have become experts in reviewing properties and sites to provide actions that can be taken to discourage criminal/nuisance behaviors from occurring.
Obtain training for City and Police Staff.
City and Police staff with training in CPTED will be better able to advise on the creation of spaces or modification of spaces that will reduce their susceptibility to criminal or nuisance behaviour.
UPDATE: Staff are looking for funding sources to assist with a number of activities that will advance this initiative including:
- training for staff;
- assessment by a professional of areas of crime and disorder;
- educational materials for the community on safeguarding property;
- resources for the dissemination of educational materials.
Nuisance properties in city neighbourhoods contribute to distress and as a result impact the health and wellbeing of the community. The City is in the process of reviewing and updating our current bylaws and policies including drafting a bylaw to deal with upkeep and minimum standards of rental properties in the community.
UPDATE: The Minimum Rental Standards Bylaw
Council has adopted a Minimum Rental Standards bylaw to improve the standard of rental properties in our community. This bylaw will require landlords maintain rental properties in a livable condition.
Council has also directed staff to prepare policy to 1)deal with vacant buildings that need to be maintained and not deteriorate the value of surrounding properties; 2) discourage occupying pedestrian spaces in high traffic pedestrian/tourism areas; 3) addition of nuisance abatement fees to recover costs related to high service call volumes.
Enforcement personnel deal with arresting individuals committing acts of crime that may not be addressed through the criminal justice system, even in the case of repeat or prolific offenders. Support of the Provincial Courts is required to protect the community from predation by prolific & chronic offenders.
ACTION: The City has provided correspondence to the Crown expressing concerns regarding convictions and an apparent lack of resources to prosecute offenders. Council will continue lobbying efforts to encourage additional resources be added to the court system.
ACTION: Consider the use of Provincial Court injunctive relief where appropriate.