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Victoria mayor pitches new community safety plan

The entrance to city hall in Victoria, B.C. (CTV News) The entrance to city hall in Victoria, B.C. (CTV News)

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto is pitching the creation of a new "Community Safety and Wellbeing Initiative" that takes a multi-pronged approach to safety in the downtown core.

The initiative would look at ways to improve downtown safety, both through city's own efforts and its behind the scenes support of partner agencies.

"Mayor and council recognize that increasing community safety and wellbeing for people living in Victoria requires a collective approach to multiple complex issues, such as declining civility and social cohesion, increasing social disorder, inadequate housing supply and homelessness, poverty, inequality, addictions, mental and physical health challenges, criminal activity, and other factors," reads the motion to be tabled by Alto.

"These efforts should include immediate interventions to reduce crime and chaos while creating longer term solutions."

The motion will be considered by city council on Thursday.

If the plan is adopted by council, it would give the city guidelines on how to approach issues like vandalism and assaults, and could include alternate ways of policing.

"[Police] have told us many times of their own frustrations about how much they are being asked to do for which they are not trained and do not have the capacity, from a resources perspective, to deal with," Alto told CTV News on Wednesday.

"We acknowledge that and so we want to make sure that we build on what policing can do well, which is a great deal, but to completely reimagine the way we resource and present different programs to deal with wellbeing and community safety," she said.

Alto's proposed initiative focuses on six pathways to improving community safety, according to her motion.

  • Support a range of civilian, bylaw and policing crisis response and prevention services.
  • Beautify, support and enhance Victoria’s downtown and urban villages.
  • Advance city policies that support accessibility, equity, diversity and inclusion through a social justice lens.
  • Develop and implement a community safety plan.
  • Support innovative, wellbeing solutions to reduce harm for housed and unhoused people living in neighbourhoods where there are shelters.
  • Work with partner agencies and governments to create life opportunities for unhoused people.

If adopted, the plan would be developed over the next 12 to 18 months.

The motion comes just weeks after city council approved a nearly $1 million plan to beautify downtown, largely by using revenue generated by recently increased parking fees. Top Stories

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