City Council has identified Safe and Resilient as one of four priority areas.
Key to enhancing and protecting the safety of all residents and visitors to Penticton.
- Advocate for non enforcement response to social disorder issues specifically related to individuals experiencing homelessness, untreated mental health and addictions issues.
- Facilitative and supportive role to not for profit sector that supports vulnerable residents.
- Ensure Penticton is prepared for emergencies, both human-made and natural disasters.
- Support strategies that reduce crime and increase a sense of community safety
By Jo Anne Ruppenthal
Let’s face it, it’s a digital world and sometimes the only place to meet people are through apps or social media. As much as you think you are being very cautious on a dating app, you probably aren’t 100 per cent protected from being scammed.
Here are some suggestions when making your profile:
- When deciding which app to use, look at their safety features. If you can’t find them or they are confusing, try another app.
- Use a unique photo (one that is not used on any other social media platforms, as it is very easy for people to do a reverse image search and find you on other sites)
- Don’t put your last name, nicknames, address, or personal information in your profile. Do not link your profile to your social accounts. I would even suggest creating a new email account specifically for a dating app.
- Apps use your location as a way to connect you with people in your area, however ensure you have control over these settings because you do not want a complete stranger to pinpoint where you are.
- Consider using the free-trial version first before you decide to commit to a paid version.
- Message the person only inside the app, even after you meet them. If it doesn’t work out, the person at least won’t have your personal cell phone number.
- If you meet in person, pick a location that is very public, let a close friend know where you are and be aware and alert (don’t leave your drink unattended, and keep the first couple dates short) and always drive yourself to the location. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t push through that – it’s your intuition telling you something is off, so have an exit plan.
Lastly, if you are messaging someone on the Internet and they are asking for money, gift card numbers or anything of you, consider it a “red flag.” Often a scammer will continue on with a friendship and convince you that you are destined to be together, however they don’t have enough money for a flight, or their car needs some repairs – whatever the drama is, it’s the “hook” to convince you to part with your money. Be open with friends/family as they sometimes can spot a scam better than you.
Please contact the Penticton Community Policing unit at 250-770-5688/5684 for more information.
To help people in crisis and to free up police resources to focus on crime, a new crisis response team is now operational in Penticton.
The new Mobile Integrated Crisis Response (MICR) team is staffed with Interior Health (IH) mental health professionals and RCMP officers to help people in crisis who need appropriate health care services when police have been called.
“When people are in distress because of a mental-health emergency and they call police, we need to take the right steps to provide them with the care they need to stay safe and meet them where they are at,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “With the new Mobile, Integrated Crisis Response team in Penticton, people in crisis will be met with appropriate, compassionate and comprehensive care, and a clear path to the help they need, supporting them on their road to wellness.”
MICR health-care workers can provide immediate support and mental-health assessments to those in crisis and connect people with local resources for ongoing help. This initiative, a collaboration between local law enforcement and health services, strengthens community safety by ensuring a rapid, care-focused response to mental health emergencies.
“When police officers work alongside mental-health experts, it best serves those who are in a moment of crisis or distress,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “By combining front-line worker’s expertise, Penticton’s MICR team is strengthening the ability to respond to public safety challenges, better protecting communities, while connecting people in crisis to the appropriate services they need, when they need them. This initiative is a crucial component of our ongoing efforts to create a safer, more inclusive province.”
“We have had ongoing discussions with the City of Penticton and RCMP about how we can work together to support individuals in crisis,” said Susan Brown, President and CEO for Interior Health. “The collective goal with our partners is to foster an inclusive, supportive, and understanding environment, where individuals who struggle with mental health or substance use feel empowered to seek help and compassion without fear of judgment or stigma.”
Expanding MICR teams is part of the Province’s Safer Communities Action Plan, and supports the plan’s goal of creating safe, healthy communities for everyone. This initiative is part of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions’ historic $1 billion dollar investment through Budget 2023 to urgently expand access to mental-health and addictions care, including increasing early intervention and prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery services, supportive and complex care housing, and more.
RCMP Superintendent Beth McAndie, Officer in Charge, Penticton Detachment Quote:
“The launch of Penticton’s Mobile Integrated Crisis Response team marks a significant milestone in our community’s commitment to innovative public safety strategies, where safety and compassion go hand in hand. By embedding the expertise of mental health professionals alongside our Integrated Crisis Response Team (ICRT) officers, we’re not just responding to crisis, but rather providing a focused strategy to support those in need. This dedicated response will ensure those experiencing a mental health crisis receive appropriate care in a timely manner and will allow frontline police officers to concentrate on investigating and proactively preventing crimes in our community.”
Penticton Mayor, Julius Bloomfield Quote:
“This is an important milestone for Penticton, as we continue to work towards a safer and more resilient community. Having this program up and running will provide support for those in crisis and also allow RCMP to focus on serious crimes. We’ve been advocating for this program over the last two years and we are very happy to see this partnership provide a much needed service to our community. We know there is more we can all do and this program can act as a prototype for future shared efforts.”
By Jo Anne Ruppenthal
Community Policing-Resortative Justice Coordinator
Well, it’s that time of the year again ... scams, thefts and frauds; oh and plus, seasonal holiday rituals with family and friends. Don’t make this season easy for those that will take advantage of your kindness.
When out shopping, make sure you take your receipt, cover up your PIN when using debit machines, and put your bags in your trunk - out of sight.
If you can’t find that perfect gift, of course, like most of us, it’s hard to find so the next best alternative is gift cards, right? I like them as stocking stuffers, but make sure you aren’t buying an altered card.
The new scam is stealing “unloaded” cards and then putting a new barcode on the back and then replacing them in the store. So, when you purchase the gift card and “load” it at the cashier, you aren’t actually giving someone a $25 card. You are giving them a blank, because the barcode that was scanned by the cashier actually was a barcode for the thief’s own pleasure (i.e. You topped off his/her Xbox account, or their other store gift card, or whatever type of barcode s/he put on the back).
So, rule of thumb, always run your finger along the back of a gift card - if it’s flat and smooth - good to go. If it’s not, give it to a store employee, so that they can remove it from the display. I recently came upon one, actually several in a store; luckily it was me that was purchasing for a friend’s Birthday, because I saved about five people from being taken by a thief!
Hope you have a safe December and check out the “Community Policing- South Okanagan Similkameen” Facebook page for more tips. See you next year!
Following a request from 100 More Homes, the City of Penticton has agreed to provide an emergency winter shelter space and will work with BC Housing on a long-term agreement for future shelter and housing needs.
“100 More Homes has been working diligently to try and come to a resolution that would ensure those experiencing homelessness are provided proper care when the temperatures drop to dangerous levels,” says Mayor Julius Bloomfield. “With temperatures dropping, Council felt it appropriate to make sure these members of our community will have a place to stay on the coldest nights and provide space for this year while future arrangements are explored.”
Under the partnership, the City of Penticton has leased space for a 30-bed Extreme Weather Response (EWR) shelter that will operate on nights when an extreme weather alert is issued; BC Housing will cover the cost of operations and the EWR shelter will be operated by Penticton and Area Overdose Prevention Society, an experienced and locally-based provider. Space has been leased at 1704 Government Street at a total cost of approximately $20,000 and will operate from December to March 31, 2024.
100 More Homes wrote letters to Council and BC Housing with specific asks to ensure an emergency winter shelter is available this year. The letters also asked the City and BC Housing to continue to work together in collaboration on housing needs for those experiencing homelessness.
“We want to thank the City Council for taking this step this year to provide a space that will provide people a warm space during the coldest nights of the year,” says Linda Sankey, co-chair of 100 More Homes. ”We have exhausted all the options currently available and the City’s willingness to recognize the human need to provide care and to facilitate a long-term plan with BC Housing are key strides as we seek to deal with the crisis on our streets.”
A key component of Council’s decision is working towards the future signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with BC Housing that ensures a proper plan is in place before the next winter, including:
- establishing regular meetings to identify short and long-term goals;
- create a sustainable winter plan for the 2024-25 season, and;
- formalize data coordination and sharing.
“One of Council’s priorities is building strong community partnerships, so an agreement with BC Housing that provides clarity for all the partners involved – including from 100 More Homes – is very much needed,” says Bloomfield. “We all have the same objectives and by working together we can make them reality. The goal is to avoid scrambling for space next year and have a solid plan in place for emergency and longer-term housing needs.”
The Emergency Winter Shelter is one part of the plan 100 More Homes has in place for this winter with partners to support those unhoused. Other items include: daytime warming centres within city facilities and extra funds for assertive outreach gear.
The 73-bed shelter at Compass Court funded by BC Housing continues to operate.
The introduction of Community Safety Officers and the use of a ‘heart and hammer’ approach to responding to homelessness were showcased at the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness conference last week.
“This recognition reaffirms that expanding the CSO program and creating a Social Development Department were steps in the right direction,” says Blake Laven, director of development services for the City. “Council has made creating a safe and resilient Penticton a priority and these are examples of how we’re working towards that goal with innovative approaches and in collaboration with our partners.”
Angie Williams, the CSO program supervisor, and Jamie Lloyd-Smith, the City’s social development specialist, were presenters at the annual conference that brings together thousands of non-profits, government agencies, people with lived experience of homelessness and policy-makers to share national best-practices. Penticton was selected to share the City’s response to unsheltered homelessness and how the CSO program was built on blending relationships, trust, compassion, accountability and enforcement.
“We know there is much work to be done but the ability to share how Penticton’s program has developed, how our CSO’s lead with the heart first and work in partnership with the RCMP, fire and other community partners is an opportunity to reflect on how we can continue to improve,” says Laven. “The response from other communities was incredibly positive and Penticton was one of only two communities across the country to present on this unique municipal bylaw response and to share the approach we’re taking.”
Read a Day in the Life of a Community Saftey Officer here
July 17, 2023
"After nearly two years of lobbying by Council, we are pleased the provincial government has announced Car 40, which pairs an RCMP officer with a health care professional, will be arriving in Penticton.
“This program will play an essential role in meeting our priority of a Safe and Resilient community. The City, RCMP and other local agencies have long advocated for this service as a way to allow people in mental health crisis to be treated with a greater level of care and concern and connect them with the assistance they need.
“Today’s announcement is not a silver bullet but rather a major step forward and we look forward to the details on how quickly the program can be in operation in Penticton. We’re excited by the opportunity this partnership will provide and we’re ready to begin immediately.”
July 12, 2023
A made-in-Penticton plan will see more than $1-million invested in three projects to reduce the risk factors for vulnerable youth.
“An essential part of creating a safe and resilient community is having programs in place that support young people who might be at risk,” says Mayor Julius Bloomfield. “These projects are an important building block in filling in the cracks that some youth fall through. We need to show support and demonstrate in a practical way that the community cares.
“Council has set having Penticton be Safe and Resilient and Vibrant and Connected as priorities and this plan reflects those goals. The City’s Social Development Department has worked tirelessly, with community partners who support youth, and youth themselves, to create a plan that meets the on-the-ground challenges facing Penticton. It reflects what we need to do as we work towards a city where everyone feels safe and appreciated.”
The funding comes from the federal government’s Building Safer Communities Fund and is being distributed through the City’s Social Development department over the next three years. There are three programs that will work in collaboration to support connection to the land, school, peers and community.
The programs are:
Kwu Xast Program (land based supports) Operator: Ooknakane Friendship Centre
YMCA Alternative Suspension (school based supports) Operator: YMCA of Southern Interior B.C.
Youth Crime Prevention Peer (peer based supports) and Youth Community Safety Officer (community based supports) Operators: Foundry Penticton and City of Penticton – Bylaw Services
The choice of programs was developed after the City’s Social Development department conducted extensive community-based research and local engagements, with both youth-serving organizations and youth themselves to understand the biggest needs facing young people.
“What makes this project unique is the collaborative and non-competitive approach taken by all the agencies involved,” says Jamie Lloyd-Smith, the City’s social development specialist. “Everyone focused on identifying the best use of the money and then committed to continue working in partnership moving forward. There are lead agencies for the program but partners like the Okanagan Nations, School District 67, Okanagan College, and many others will play a role going forward. They will help refer clients, support program evaluation and provide support to the operators and the youth. This type of co-operation and breaking down of silos, is essential to ensure that the youth are getting the help they need. This is a win-win for youth at-risk and for the community.”
More details on the start dates for the programs will be available soon.
This program will provide all youth, but particularly Indigenous youth, with opportunities to connect with their cultural heritage through land-based activities such as hunting, fishing and traditional crafts. By promoting a sense of belonging and cultural identity, this program aims to reduce the risk of substance abuse, criminal involvement and other negative behaviours. This program will prioritize Indigenous youth, but will be inclusive to youth of all cultures and backgrounds. It will be operated by the Ooknakane Friendship Centre.
YMCA Alternative Suspension:
This program will provide an alternative to traditional school suspensions by offering structured activities and education opportunities for youth who have been suspended from school. By keeping youth engaged in positive activities and helping them stay on track with their education, this program aims to reduce the risk of academic failure and future delinquency. This program will also target youth who have not yet been suspended, but are at risk of suspension and have been identified by school counselors and teachers. The program was originally developed by The YMCAs of Quebec. The program will be operated by the YMCA of Southern Interior B.C.
Youth Community Safety and Crime Prevention Initiative:
Peer Crime Prevention Worker: This program will train and employ youth to work as peer mentors and crime prevention workers in their communities. By providing positive role models and building relationships with at-risk youth, this program aims to reduce the risk of criminal involvement and promote positive decision-making. This role will work directly with the Youth Community Safety Staff to provide supports to youth directly in the community. This program aims to connect youth with other youth. This program will be operated by Foundry Penticton.
Youth Community Safety Staff: This program will be a direct branch of the Community Safety Officers program residing within the Bylaw Services of the City of Penticton. This is a preventative program that aims to reach youth across the community, including “fringe youth” who may be becoming at-risk of being involved in crime, but have not been identified through traditional means. It will include components of outreach, engagement, advocacy and education. By providing an accessible positive and safe adult in the community, this program aims to create a connection between youth and their community, including increased and timely access to youth community supports. This role will work directly with the Peer Crime Prevention Worker to provide supports to youth directly in the community. This program will be operated by the City of Penticton-Bylaw Services.
The Safe Public Spaces bylaw that will establish expectations for public behaviours in Penticton has received final approval.
After receiving a report on the public engagement and consultation with the medical health officer, Council unanimously agreed to proceed with the bylaw that will also provide Community Safety Officers more authority to enforce the regulations and allow RCMP to focus on more serious offences.
Following public consultations and discussion with Interior Health, staff are recommending Council proceed with the Safe Public Places bylaw.
“This bylaw is designed to ensure a safer and more secure Penticton by clearly laying out expected behaviours in public places, ranging from disorderly conduct and public nuisances to public substance use, so that we can ensure community safety,” says Blake Laven, the City’s director of development services. “Overall, there is wide support for the intent of the bylaw and for providing Community Safety Officers with more authority to enforce the provisions and for allowing Community Safety Officers to respond to these types of calls, as opposed to the RCMP, which can be freed up to deal with higher level criminal matters.”
First introduced in March, the bylaw was developed over the course of two years in response to community concerns around safety and the unsustainable level of social nuisance and disturbance calls directed to the RCMP. During the development of the bylaw, the federal and provincial governments began a three-year pilot program decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of previously illegal substances. The bylaw provides exemptions for substance use in designated areas in order to direct individuals to use in safe spaces – following the intent of the drug decriminalization pilot project.
City staff met with Dr. Sue Pollock, the regional medical health officer for Interior Health, to discuss the bylaw, focusing on the public consumption of illicit substances. While recognizing the need to consider overall public safety, Interior Health raised concerns about re-stigmatizing drug use, reiterated waiting six months before proceeding and suggested not imposing punitive measures such as fines.
“The bylaw is designed to provide a safe environment for all community members, and by providing exemptions for use in designated areas, it creates a balanced approach,” says Laven. “Our goal is to ensure that everyone feels safe, including those struggling with addictions issues. We will continue to work with Interior Health and other groups to ensure safe spaces exist and continue advocating for more resources.”
Staff also conducted extensive public consultation, with the results showing a high concern around safety in the community and the need to regulate public behaviours.
“After reviewing the feedback and discussion with other groups, there is an overwhelming consensus that the bylaw is headed in the right direction,” says Laven.
The recommendation will be presented to Council at the May 16 meeting. Also on the agenda is an update from the Public Safety Working Group and the latest crime stats from the RCMP.
March 17, 2023
Establishing clear public behavior expectations and increasing enforcement authority for Community Safety Officers are part of a package of community safety bylaws being presented to City Council.
“Council has made a concerted effort over the past several years to increase resources through the addition of more police officers, more firefighters and expanding the Community Safety Officer program,” says Blake Laven, the City of Penticton’s director of development services. “These latest initiatives – which have been developed over more than a year – build on the work already done. We’re now proposing to set out what is acceptable and safe behavior for residents and visitors and providing Community Safety Officers with additional tools to enforce these standards and enhance community safety.”
Noting the establishment of the Community Safety Officer program was designed to free up the RCMP to focus on more serious matters, Laven says the statistics show the Bylaw Services office received 3,500 calls in 2022 for “social nuisance in public places” and these calls might have otherwise gone to the RCMP who saw their 17,305 calls for service in 2021 reduced by 500 in 2022.
These newest initiatives are intended to equip the Community Safety Officers with greater tools to address public nuisance and disorder calls, as was called for in the recently completed Community Safety Resources Review. Included in staff’s report to council are:
- A Safe Public Places Bylaw that establishes community standards and consequences for violations of those standards with the intent of creating a safe, inclusive community where all members feel welcome and safe.
- A proposal to designate Bylaw Enforcement and Community Safety Officers as Peace Officers, which gives additional authority and provides greater protection to bylaw officers.
- A Bylaw and Community Safety Officer Procedure Policy that identifies progressive steps for officers to follow when interacting with individuals suspected to be in breach of a municipal bylaw.
A new development is the recent start of the three-year pilot project begun by the provincial government, decriminalizing for the possession of small amounts of previously illegal substances. The bylaw provides exemptions for substance use in designated areas in order to direct individuals to use in safe spaces – following the intent of the drug decriminalization pilot project.
“Our goal is to ensure that every one feels safe, including those struggling with addictions issues. These initiatives are intended to work with and supplement other initiatives addressing addictions in the community and the City continues to advocate for more resources to help those in need,” says Laven.
“The province is very clear municipalities have the right to regulate what happens in public spaces and we want to find that balance. The bylaw covers everything from soliciting at ATMs and drive-thrus to public nudity, public urination and taking over public places such that they can’t be used as intended. We want to make sure everyone feels safe and welcome in public places.”
At their meeting on March 21, Council is being asked to give first reading to the Safe Public Spaces Bylaw which will initiate a one-month engagement process where staff will notify health officials and social agencies and seek feedback from the community.
The findings of the public engagement and suggested changes will be reviewed by Council prior to seeking further readings of the bylaw or the final endorsement of the changes to peace officer status and the proposed procedure policy.
Information about the engagement program will be provided on www.shapeyourcitypenticton.ca.
The report and proposed bylaw can be found here as part of the Council agenda package.
March 3, 2023
A report to Council will outline the City’s safety priorities for the upcoming year, addressing the findings of the Community Safety Resource Review and advancing Council’s Safety and Resilient community priority.
“Council has established Safe and Resilient as one of its four priorities and we’re well-positioned to make this happen,” says Anthony Haddad, the City of Penticton’s general manager for community services. ““The leaders of each of our protective services departments carefully considered the findings of the Community Safety Resource Review in identifying these initiatives and have put together a solid roadmap for moving forward.”
The report includes plans for each of the major protective services areas including the RCMP, Fire Services, Bylaw Services, as well as the City as a whole.
January 13, 2023
As the City of Penticton moves forwards to access federal funds to build safer communities, local youth-serving organizations are coming together to plan the use of the almost $1 million to prevent youth crime.
December 16, 2022
The Community Safety Resource Review highlights the City of Penticton’s efforts to deal with the challenges presented by homelessness, mental health and addictions, and prolific offenders but also reveals the need for significant investment in many areas that are in provincial jurisdiction.
“This is a thoroughly detailed review that looks at all aspects of the City’s safety resources - from RCMP to Fire to Bylaw Services - and presents a clear picture that the status quo of the City trying to fill the gaps in services that are a provincial responsibility is not sustainable,” says Anthony Haddad, the general manager of community services for Penticton. “The City has invested significantly over the last five years as we try to meet these challenges and provide a safe and healthy community. The report is unambiguous that we cannot afford to continue to carry the burden.”
According to the report:
- RCMP cannot proactively serve the community: Penticton continues to have a much higher level of calls for service and there has been a 56 per cent increase in mental health calls to the RCMP detachment from 2019-2021.
- The Fire Department has been removed from their core function: More than 50 per cent of calls to the Penticton Fire Department are medical and many are overdoses, reducing operational readiness.
- Bylaw and CSO need more enforcement tools: Calls to Bylaw have increased by 243 per cent since 2017. Community Safety Officers need greater authority and a long-term plan supported by other local and regional agencies who are better equipped to deal with the mental health challenges of their roles.
The report makes 54 recommendations, with many falling outside of municipal jurisdiction.
“The report provides a fact-based foundation as the City of Penticton moves forward,” says Haddad. “This is an ideas report, providing many potential starting points for the municipality and other levels of government. Staff will continue to review the report and take direction from council on what the next steps and how we engage with our provincial partners to ensure Penticton residents are getting the level of service required.”
The staff recommendation is for Council to receive the report and that it form part of Council’s Strategic Planning process around Community Safety.
The review was initiated in February 2022 to look at RCMP, Fire and Bylaw operations to determine how resources should be best allocated to meet ongoing demand for services. The review involved extensive interviews and focus groups with community members and key stakeholder groups as well as a public survey which received 815 responses. The complete findings of the review can be found at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/focus-on-safety. Paper copies can also be viewed at the Penticton Public Library and City Hall.
Residents who would like to learn more about the report are invited to attend one of two Online Information Sessions in early January. The sessions will be held on January 10 and 12, 2023 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Register in advance at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/focus-on-safety.
2023 Priorities for Community Safety
The following highlights many of the initiatives underway, including those that will be brought forward through
the upcoming 2023 budget process. In response to some of the recommendations coming out of the Review, a
number of initiatives will be ongoing and also be brought forward for implementation in 2023, including the
Car40 Program: The City will be continuing to lobby the Provincial Government to fund the Car40 program that will provide mental health supports in tandem with RCMP response to mental health calls.
Health Funding: Ongoing dialogue with Interior Health Authority will continue to highlight the need for more Provincial funding towards needed emergency health related services in our community.
Provincial Programs: Staff will look to work with the appropriate Provincial agencies to better understand the level of service being provided in Penticton.
Crown Counsel: Staff will work with Council to look at building an ongoing dialogue and working relationship between the City and Crown Counsel.
Two Additional Officers: The RCMP will be seeking to fund two addition police officers in the 2023
budget who will form the Community Safety Enforcement team. This team will work with bylaw, service
providers and Interior Health, which will enhance our interoperability and visibility in the community.
Car40 Program: The RCMP will continue to work with Council and Interior Health in an effort to bring
the Car 40 program to the community which will allow officers to focus on police work in the community.
Restorative Justice Program: The detachment currently has a robust Restorative Justice Program with a
new coordinator hired in the fall of 2022. The coordinator/program are working closely with the school
board to enhance student/police relations.
School Liaison Program: The detachment has implemented a school liaison program for all middle and
high schools in the community. Each school has an Identified school liaison member "adopt a school".
Mental Health Call Triage: The RCMP already triage their calls for service be it at the Front Counter,
Supervisor or Investigator level. If the matter should be managed by a more appropriate agency, such as
a mental health related issue, the call is referred accordingly.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Assessments – The Community Policing team
within the RCMP provides on-site assessments to support crime prevention for businesses.
Service Level Review: The Penticton Fire Department (PFD) Leadership team will present to Council
over the coming months on the current core services outline in the Fire and Life Safety Bylaw. They will
identify any gaps of service and potential for new service delivery based on findings of the past three
years of emergency response.
Emergency Management: The PFD will continue to collaborate on Emergency Management both in the
field and in Emergency Operations Centre with Bylaw, RCMP and BC Ambulance Service (BCAS). All
agency regular leadership meeting will be enhanced with the newly created Emergency Management
Emergency Health Service: PFD will seek best practices for BCAS staffing for a community the size of
Penticton and bring forward for council to consider in lobbying the Provincial Government.
First Responder Review: The PFD will conduct a detail analysis of all medical emergencies we respond
to over the first 6 months of 2023. We will Identify potential duplications of services provided by BCAS
and PFD. The Study will evaluate acuity of incident, care provided, and agency response/delay times.
Once the review is completed we will have accurate and current analytics to build a business case for
rapid response unit or other potential options for Council to consider.
Medical Training: The PFD scope of practice for medical training has steadily been increasing since the
BC Emergency Health services has allowed first responders to advance our services and endorsements in
2022. New employees will be trained to EMR level and current employees will advance their training to
parallel levels through in house training and patient contacts.
Increase Bylaw Authority: Council will be considering three initiatives to increase Bylaw and CSO
authority. The initiatives include a new bylaw that addresses the inappropriate use of public places, a
bylaw that designates Bylaw Officers and CSOs as Peace Officers and a policy that outlines the use of
force for Bylaw and CSOs. These initiatives will provide additional authority to Bylaw and CSO’s to
responded to the demand of the community and provide front line support for activities that occur in
our public spaces that do not support the creating of a healthy community.
A Day in the Life: Community safety is a top of mind issue in Penticton.
Protective services - the RCMP, Penticton Fire Department and Bylaw Services - account for more than 40 per cent of the City of Penticton's operating budget. This year saw the City add two more RCMP officers and four more firefighters; this comes on the heels of the recent expansion of the Community Safety Officer (CSO) program to operate from 7 days a week from 6 am to 11 pm.
Council has given first reading to a new Safe Public Places Bylaw which sets out clear expectations for public behaviour and increases the authority of CSOs to ensure a safer Penticton.
We spent some time with our Community Safety Officers to get a better understanding of what the job entails and how the proposed bylaw would make them more effective. Flip through the document or view as a pdf.
Performance Indicators: As recommended in the Review, a number of Key Performance Indicators
(KPIs) are being developed for the Community Safety Officer program in line to provide performance
metrics and management systems for the program moving forward.
Project 529: Collaborating with RCMP and PDSCL, Bylaw and CSOs actively provide bike riders with
decals to register and identify their bikes on the smart phone app. The community can assist in tracking
and identifying lost or stolen bikes and officers retrieve and provide bikes back to their rightful owner.
‘See Something Say Something’ campaign: Since 2018 we have repeated this public awareness
campaign with radio, social media and targeting signage geared to encourage the community to call
bylaw or police for any issues they see that present safety concerns. This has led to an increase call load
however demonstrates to the community that we are active in the response to public safety concerns
and timely triage and assign all calls from the public.
‘Hot Spot’ targeted CSO patrols: Strategic deployment of CSOs using calls for service data from the
public to locations of high call volume; ultimately reducing public exposure time to social nuisance
Intake Collaboration Tool: In partnership with 100 More Homes and Social Development, the CSOs
are piloting a standardized tool to identify vulnerable individuals in Penticton, and to gather details on
how and where they are already connected, or need to get connected to services in the community.
This tool will allow broader inter-agency case-conferencing for agencies who may be responding to
and/or supporting the same vulnerable individuals.
Sharps disposal strategy: City led community partner group to ensure safe disposal of sharps
education, removal of sharps throughout the community in public and private locations with public
access, placement and maintenance of all sharp boxes and containers in city.
Vulnerable Assessment Tool: Assist BC Housing with conducting assessments on rough sleepers
requiring housing in the community. Data reports provided directly to BC Housing from CSOs.
Youth Connection program: Lead CSO and Bylaw Manager; attendance to both High Schools biannually to present on the role of the department and services, often in conjunction and at the request
of Social Justice or Law classes. Also, Lead CSO attends Foundry on weekly basis to participate in the
RADAR program for youth. RADAR provides individual support, group programs and special events for
2SLGBTQIA+ youth ages 12-24. Getting youth comfortable with local government and offering
supports and services and basic life information being a familiar face has been very successful.
Graffiti program: The Graffiti Zero Program, which was initiated in 2015, has been able to successfully
manage all graffiti within the boundaries of the zone. The zone includes all businesses (not residential)
within the Downtown Penticton BIA, including all city property within this zone. It also includes the
north side of Lakeshore drive from the sidewalk curb down to the water. All utilities, poles, benches,
and garbage bins (city and Waste Management) are also included in the program. The goal of the
program is to clean graffiti as quickly as possible. Officers are proactive in files related to on view graffiti
and work with the contractor for removals. Doing this creates an image of a safe graffiti free
community. There is still a considerable amount of graffiti vandalism occurring but is not noticed due to
the success of this program.
DPBIA Camera program: RCMP, Bylaw and CSOs support the program by responding to locations of
issues identified on camera. This reduces calls for service to other emergency service providers but also
enhances the sense of security near locations of camera placement. New and changing locations are
recommended by officers for possible camera placements. As part of budget 2023, a proposal for
$100,000 will be brought forward to expand the camera program downtown and discussion are
ongoing with the Chamber of Commerce around opportunities for a City wide camera program in the
Performance & Impact Review: The City will review the existing contracts for Private Security to improve
understanding of deliverables and data resulting from the services provided. The development of KPI’s in
consultation with the City’s Bylaw Services and Facilities Management departments will be developed.
Social Development Framework: In 2022, Social Development began the process of developing a
comprehensive Social Development Framework to guide the priorities and principles of the department.
A Social Framework helps to support equality and social well-being through pro-active leadership and
collaborative action on City initiatives that have social impacts.
Building Safe Communities Fund (BSCF): Staff have been working with various partners to prepare a
three-year plan addressing youth crime prevention to utilize the funds in the best interests of the
community within the funding parameters. The three-year plan will involve a mix of youth focused crime
prevention program(s), primarily delivered through local not-for-profit agencies.
Penticton Outreach Coordination Table (POCT): In partnership with 100 More Homes, Social
Development helps facilitate the POCT group, which provide “on-the-ground” and “real-time” updates to
coordinate access to support services for those experiencing/at-risk of homelessness.
Sharps Strategy: The City is currently looking at opportunities to enhance and update the Penticton
Safe Needle Disposal program. The original strategy was completed in 2018 and new partnerships, such
as the one with the ASK Wellness Ambassador Program, presents an opportunity to revamp the strategy.
Community Action Table: The Community Action Team (CAT) was founded in 2019 to support local
communities’ response to the opioid and toxic drug supply crisis. It is a collaborative group of service
providers, Interior Health Authority, the City of Penticton, Penticton Indian Band, Okanagan Nation
Alliance, RCMP, and Urban Matters CCC. A Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the
CAT has allowed formalized opportunities with partners to examine what is currently successful in the
substance use system of care and opportunities for improvement. This table is leading the Penticton
Substance Use System Change program, which is experimenting with shifting the “system of care” for
those who experience using substances regularly from one that is premised on a single “one-size fits all”
pathway for care to one that embraces the nuanced complexity of an individual and can flex to offer
multiple pathways for support that meet an individual’s core needs. The CAT is currently gathering data
and prototyping new programs to support individuals who engage in substance use.
ASK Wellness Ambassador Partnership: A partnership with the ASK Wellness Ambassador Program
employs individuals with lived experience of homelessness to provide sharps disposal, debris clean-up,
and property maintenance. In addition, peers provide clean-up services to properties that have been
identified as Unsightly by the City of Penticton’s Bylaw Services Department, and in which the property
owner will not adhere to the City’s order to have the property cleaned up.
Family Reunification Fund: Social Development continues to lead the Family Reunification Fund
program, which supports individuals who are experiencing barriers to wellness reunite with their family.
Funds are available for at-risk individuals, who are connected to an existing support worker in the
community, who can demonstrate that family reunification will support the individual’s health and
Emergency Preparedness: The City is working collaboratively with the local social services sector to
establish a coordinated sector-response for Penticton during emergency activations. Currently work is
underway to understand: (1) what local not-for-profits and service organization can play a supportive
role during emergencies, (2) what role they can play, and 3) provide equitable structures to access
resources and increase safety during emergencies for evacuees and other affected parties.
100 More Homes: Originally formed in 2016 to support the community’s response to homelessness, the
organization is now being funded by the City and is the coordinating agency tasked with preventing and
address homelessness in Penticton. The group meets regularly and includes individuals from many
sectors including not-for profit housing providers, provincial health and housing ministries and
organizations, and includes business and lived experience representation. A range of initiatives are
currently being undertaken by 100 More Homes to look at: the prevention of homelessness by
supporting youth, data collection and needs assessments, and evaluating the operating capacity of
partners to deliver expand housing with supports opportunities.
Non-Profit Housing Organizations: A range of non-market housing providers existing in the
community such as Discovery House, South Okanagan Brain Injury Society, OneSky Community
Resources, Penticton and District Society for Community Living and BC Housing, provide housing
supports to individuals who are unable to participate in the housing market. This important sector
ensures individuals do not end up experiencing homelessness, and that there are adequate supports for
tenant needs. There is a need to get a full understanding of the housing needs within these organizations so that investment from the City and the Province can be made in the most sustainable
manner, with the greatest impact.
OCP Amendments: The City’s growth rates have exceeded expectations intended in the 2018 OCP. An
update to the City’s housing needs assessment and housing policy framework, based on new data from
the 2021 Census, will be undertaken in 2023 to better identify opportunities to accommodate future
grown over the coming years.
City Owned Land: As directed by Council, staff are in the process of preparing a Strategic Land
Assessment for municipally owned land that can be used for affordable housing projects in the future.
Equitable Housing Policy Engagement: In 2022, Council directed staff to apply for the PlanH Healthy
Public Policy Grant to engage with vulnerable populations in Penticton who are living in core housing
need (i.e. those who spend more than 30% of their income on shelter costs). These engagements will
help gather the real experiences of Penticton residents living in poverty/unaffordable housing to inform
OCP amendments in 2023.
Community Safety Building (CSB): This new facility is in the process of early stages of space needs / site
assessment. This facility will look at consolidating Fire, Emergency Operations, Bylaw, Community Safety
Officers and a portion of RCMP detachment within one multi-use community safety centre.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED): CPTED is based on the principle that
opportunities for criminal activity can be reduced through good urban design practices. The RCMP offers
CPTED reviews to neighbourhoods and businesses in the community to assess existing safety concerns
and provide solutions. CPTED reviews are also completed on new development applications as part of the
Technical Planning Committee reviews.
Transportation Safety technical working group: This is a group comprised of Engineering, Bylaw,
RCMP, ICBC, and others as required. The group will meet to review transportation related concerns in the
City (safety, speed, incidents etc.) and make recommendations to the Infrastructure Department for
Safe Routes to School/Active Travel Programs: The City is working with the School District to develop
and implement a City-wide safe routes to school program to encourage active transportation as a safe
transportation choice, and to help address vehicle congestion and safety issues in and around school
zones. In 2023, two schools will be selected to pilot the program.
Safety by design: As part of all capital projects, the Infrastructure Department is reviewing
opportunities to improve Community Safety. This includes increasing visibility, lighting, and other
related items that can be addressed as part of the capital project.
penticton.ca: The City’s website includes many resources to support safety in the community.
Descriptions and contacts for many of the above programs are available on the penticton.ca/focus-onsafety page and throughout the website.
City of Penticton mobile app: The reporting function on the City’s app makes it easy and convenient for
residents to alert Community Safety Officers about safety and other concerns in the community.
Emergency Information (Text SMS / Email): In 2022, the City introduced the option of receiving
emergency information by text. Residents can subscribe to receive text notices about threats at
penticton.ca/subscribe. It is also an option to receive emergency notices directly by email.
shapeyourcitypenticton.ca: The City’s online engagement platform was the central resource for
involving the community in the preparation of the Review and provides further opportunities to seek
community input in the creation of a long-term Public Safety Plan.
Engagement Program: In addition to online resources, focus groups and information sessions were
essential to the preparation of the Review and are an option to support further development of the plan.
Community Connectedness: Strong neighbourhoods contribute to a vibrant community and can
support awareness and a sense of safety within their neighborhoods. In partnership with Social
Development, Communications & Engagement are exploring options to encourage strong connections
in Penticton neighborhoods.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent Crime
All citizens are encouraged calls on all citizens to help put the brakes on property crime. Signs have been posted throughout the city providing contact information for people to report thefts or suspicious activity. Also visit the See Something Say Something webpage for information about how to file your report.
Online Reporting for Non-Emergency Issues
There are steps you can take to make sure your home or business isn’t a target for criminals. Contact the Penticton Community Policing Office for an on-site security assessment of your property, strata property, neighbourhood, underground parkade or business. Find out more on our See Something Say Something page or contact the Penticton Community Policing Office at 250-492-4300.
The City's See Something Say Something toolkit offers concrete steps you can take to improve the security of your home business. These tips are based on a method called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), which works by removing opportunities for criminals.
If you'd like to conduct this security assessment yourself, you can downloadthe forms (available for a residential property or business). Please read the full details and further tips on the See Something Say Something page.
Register your bicycle for free with Project 529, the bike registration program, operated in partnership with Penticton RCMP. This program is a bike theft prevention and recovery program, meaning it not only helps deter thieves, but if your bike is stolen, it helps police easily identify the bike's owner.
You can register your bike for free in less than five minutes at project529.com or download the 529 Garage smartphone app. Pick up your decals at the Penticton RCMP detachment, through the City Bylaw office or at local bike shop The Bike Barn.
By taking some simple steps around your home, you can help keep your home secure. This includes:
- Lock your doors and windows when you leave your home.
- Do not keep ladders or tools on the outside of your home. They can be used to gain entry.
- Always keep your vehicle locked, even if it’s parked in your driveway.
- Keep your vacation plans off social networks like Facebook.
- Get to know your neighbours.
- Join or start a Block Watch group.
- Record serial numbers, keep a log and take pictures of your valuables.
- Avoid leaving anything of value in parked vehicles.
Read more RCMP security tips.
How to Report an Issue or Crime
Want to report an incident but not sure who to call? Our See Something Say Something page will point you in the right direction.
When to Call RCMP
If your situation is an emergency requiring immediate response, dial 911. For non-emergency incidents involving a crime, call the RCMP at 250-492-4300 or use their Online Crime Reporting system.
When to Call Bylaw Services
Do you have a noisy neighbour? Is a barking dog keeping you up all night? Would you like to make a complaint about a traffic or snow removal issue? These are all examples of issues that should be reported to the City's Bylaw Services department or report the issue online.
Use this helpful chart for some examples of who to call.
Additional Projects & Initiatives
2021 – Council approved the Emergency Support Services (ESS) Facility and Spaces Plan, identifying the primary facilities that the ESS team will use when supporting residents that have been evacuated from their homes during an emergency.
2020 – Council supported the application for grant funding for the City of Penticton FireSmart program.
2019 – The City’s Fire Department, RCMP and Bylaw Services, along with key members of City administration, prepared for activation of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), which was activated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2019 – The City Implemented a sharps disposal program.
2019 – Council sought advice from Interior Health about discarded needles in the community and how their safe disposal can be better managed.
2019 – Council committed to public safety improvements through actions involving funding for new RCMP and Bylaw positions, engagement on safety concerns and revised bylaws for the downtown.
2018 – The Penticton Fire Department hosted the first Wildfire Urban Interface (WUI) Training Symposium in Penticton.
2018 – Council endorsed the establishment of a new Safety and Security Task Force, supporting a mandate to create a safe and secure city.
2018 – Received the British Columbia Local Government FireSmart Community Protection Achievement Award.
The Safety and Security Advisory Committee is made up of nine voting members appointed by City Council. Its mandate is to make recommendations to Council on all matters referred to them, including providing recommendation on public safety and crime prevention initiatives. The committee recommends actions, education and marketing initiatives that promote increased public awareness and participation in public safety in the community.
The Penticton Fire Department offers multiple safety programs to promote public education. Their overriding purpose is to help children, adults, businesses and industry become more aware of fire and life safety issues, preventative measures and appropriate emergency responses.