The City of Chilliwack is looking to ease the burden for local police and cut the local crime rate with a new Chilliwack Community Safety Plan.
The 66-page document was presented to Chilliwack City Council this week, capping off 18 months of work by the Mayor’s Integrated Community Safety Task Force (ICSTF). The task force went into the process with a vision “to build an inclusive, accepting, engaged, and sustainable community where all residents are safe, feel safe, and have a sense of belonging.”
A report by city staff noted increasing numbers of Criminal Code offence and increasing concerns about crime and social disorder in Chilliwack. The ICSTF was formed in 2019 to look at the root causes of criminal behaviour, everything from economic changes to homelessness, addictions to mental health concerns and beyond.
The Chilliwack Community Safety Plan provides a road map for how to deal with those issues and achieve five goals:
– Improve safety and the perception of safety.
– Reduce the stigma around homelessness, mental illness, and substance use.
– Set up a full range of social services to meet local needs and help people use a variety of services.
– Improve the capacity of the justice system to seek and approve criminal charges.
– Increase focus on early interventions and trauma-informed practice.
To achieve those goals, the plan identifies five areas where a municipal government can impact community safety:
– Increase homelessness prevention, shelter diversion supports, and affordable housing
– Improve community safety communications
– Continue to fund the Community Response Team
– Support the Situation Table and adjust to Chilliwack context
– Support community based agencies in their work to ameliorate the conditions of those affected by adverse childhood experience
“Community safety is complex with multiple factors playing a role,” said Councillor Bud Mercer, chair of the ICSTF and a man who spent 34 years as an RCMP officer. “As a result, the plan identifies many different organizations that must work together. I would like to thank the Province of B.C., the RCMP, Fraser Health, BC Housing, and the various community groups that participated in the thoughtful creation of the Chilliwack Community Safety Plan.”
“Chilliwack is a community that is known for effective inter-agency collaboration, specifically through Chilliwack’s Homelessness Action Plan,” added Mayor Ken Popove. “I know the same type of collaboration will have a positive impact on community safety.”
Having the plan isn’t enough if it isn’t acted upon, so the City is also creating a Community Safety Governance Committee to support and monitor its implementation.
The Chilliwack Community Safety Plan can be viewed in its entirety in the City Council agenda package for the May 31 meeting. Information about the plan starts on page 328 and the plan itself starts on page 332.