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
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.
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.
July 14, 2022
With more than 7,500 bikes already registered in the Penticton area, it’s never been easier to sign up for Project 529 and protect your bikes.
“This is a preventative measure and a recovery measure,” says local Community Policing co-ordinator Alexis Hovenkamp. “The decal helps reduce bike thefts, as would-be thieves know it’s registered with the program and easily traced. If your bike is stolen, it allows RCMP and bylaw enforcement officers to quickly reunite you through a simple scan if it is recovered.”
The City of Penticton is placing signs in high-visibility areas encouraging people to register for the free service and the cost of the decals is covered by the City. Bike owners can scan the QR code and register right away.
“This program really works and as results we see bikes returned to their rightful owners,” says Tina Mercier, the City’s Bylaw Services Manager. “Our See Something, Say Something program also works in conjunction with Project 529. If your bike is stolen or you think you know its whereabouts, call us. All of our officers have the ability to scan and know right away who the rightful owner is. This is a simple and safe way to prevent bike theft.”
Register your bicycle – including e-bikes - for free with Project 529, the bike registration program, operated in partnership with Penticton RCMP. You can register your bike for free in less than five minutes at www.project529.com or download the 529 Garage smartphone app. Pick up your decals at the Penticton RCMP Detachment or City of Penticton Bylaw Services at no charge.
Community Policing will have a booth at the Penticton Farmers’ Market on July 23 where they can assist in registering bikes.
April 27, 2022
Penticton City Council’s decision to improve public safety and response capabilities by including additional funding for bylaw and police services in the 2022 budget is now complete with the arrival of all four new RCMP Officers, four new Community Safety Officers, one new Bylaw Enforcement Officer and one new Bylaw Intake Administrator.
In addition to providing funding for new RCMP and Bylaw members, Council also approved the now underway Community Safety Resource Review to identify long-term staffing level requirements across the City’s community safety portfolio, including RCMP, Bylaw Services and Fire.
February 15, 2022
The City of Penticton has made community safety its focus for 2022 and plans to increase policing, expand bylaw, and review protective services are already underway. Beginning today, residents have an opportunity to contribute their ideas on how to address safety concerns in the community by completing a survey.
The survey is being conducted as part of the Community Safety Resource Review which will look for opportunities to improve the effective and efficient delivery of our RCMP, Bylaw and Fire services and identify long-term staffing level requirements. The survey will run from Feb. 15 through to March 6 and is available through shapeyourcitypenticton.ca/focus-on-safety. Paper copies can be found at the Penticton Public Library, the Community Centre and City Hall. Participation in the survey is anonymous and registration is not required. The results of the survey will be shared publicly.
December 14, 2021
New recruits are on the way for the City’s Bylaw enforcement team and Penticton RCMP, adding more Bylaw street patrols and bolstering the RCMP’s ability to proactively target prolific offenders. The RCMP is recruiting three new police officers, bringing the total increase in officers between 2021 to 2022 to seven.
In addition, the City has kicked off a recruitment process for six new members of the Bylaw enforcement team, improving the City’s ability to respond to calls and complaints. This will include one bylaw intake administrator, responsible for the front desk, as well as one bylaw enforcement officer and four community safety bylaw officers. This brings the Bylaw Services team to include a total of eight community safety officers.
December 2, 2021
City Council has approved funding to conduct a community safety review. This will look at RCMP, fire and Bylaw operations to determine how to allocate resources to meet the demand for services. The review, to be completed later this year (2022), intends to identify long-term staffing level requirements across the City’s community safety portfolio.
November 24, 2021
With a letter dispatched today to the BC Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety requesting additional RCMP officers, Penticton City Council has responded to the community’s call to action for more investment in protective services by making public safety the top priority of the 2022-2026 Financial Plan.
Following yesterday’s conclusion of the annual budget process, work is now underway to implement a suite of investments intended to address safety by boosting the size of Penticton’s RCMP detachment by three new police officers (bringing the increase of officers between 2021 and 2022 to seven), adding two new RCMP civilian staff, extending the operational hours and call capacity of the Bylaw Department and adding seven new resources, including five Bylaw Officers, two Community Safety Officers and an additional intake administrator for incoming calls and complaints. These outcomes, along with a full scope of other decisions, were the focus of Council budget deliberations held November 22 through November 23.
“Among the men and women who protect our community from crime, and among the families and businesses whose wellbeing, livelihoods and properties they work to keep safe, all have clearly and consistently said, more needs to occur now to address the disorder along our streets, in our parks and on our properties,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki.
“The public safety spending Council has authorized for 2022 is a direct response to this call to action. The added funding will help address the demand for service by allowing more calls for policing and bylaw to be answered and responded to during peak hours, seven days a week. And while it’s certainly true that preventing issues like crime require a range of solutions supporting not only enforcement, but also addiction, mental health and barriers across society, the decisions made Tuesday are intended to directly target those individuals who willfully exploit gaps in our system to commit brazen and repeat criminal offenses.”
Cost to residents and businesses
For 2022, Council has approved an overall tax increase of 5.7 per cent. In addition, Council approved holding electric rates at 2021 levels. Homeowners will see an average annual increase in municipal taxes and utility fees totaling $103 for a typical residential property valued at $469,909 and an average annual increase in municipal taxes and utility fees totaling $934 for a typical business property valued at $1,188,696.
The process leading up to the draft 2022-2026 Financial Plan involved six months of preparations, starting in the spring of 2021 and concluding in November with the creation of a proposed 2022 Corporate Business Plan and draft 2022-2026 Financial Plan. Both documents were made available to the community for comment and discussion during the City’s annual budget engagement events, held November 7 through November 18, 2021.
The final version of the financial plan containing all revisions requested by Council, will be formally adopted during a Special Council Meeting, to be held in early December.
November 8, 2021
In advance of Council’s budget deliberations, scheduled for November 22, 2021 through to November 23, 2021, complete details of the City of Penticton’s Draft 2022-2026 Financial Plan and supporting Draft Corporate Business Plans are now available for the community’s review.
Along with maintaining service levels, the draft plan proposes significant investments in community safety, the top priority identified by Council earlier in the budget process.
A suggested tax increase of 4.4 per cent will provide $1.6 million in funding for the purpose of increasing policing by three new officers, expanding bylaw hours from 7am to 11pm seven days a week, adding two additional community safety officers, enhancing the City’s fire protection and response efforts, and undertaking a community safety plan to review police, bylaw and fire services, guide actions and decisions on community safety and explore options to better monitor repeat offenders.
Recognizing inflationary pressures from factors like labour, goods and RCMP contract increases, the draft plan proposes an additional increase of 4.1 per cent, bringing the recommended ‘starting point’ tax increase to 8.5 per cent. Given sustained COVID-19 revenue losses from City facilities, the plan contemplates using the remaining $2.4 million Provincial COVID-19 Restart grant to protect taxpayers from further tax rate increases in 2022.
The draft 2022-2026 Financial Plan also supports Penticton’s commitment to sustain and renew city infrastructure for roads, facilities and City’s utilities. To achieve this significant capital investment of $47 million in 2022, the plan suggests borrowing given attractive rates and the City’s low debt levels.
And finally, as Council deferred setting utility rates for water, sewer, electricity and storm water until the budget process, next year’s proposed figures are included in the 2022-2026 Financial Plan. For 2022, the plan proposes a 2 per cent ($28/year residential) increase to electrical rates, a 0.6 per cent ($3/year residential) increase to water rates, a 2 per cent ($9/year residential) increase to sewer rates and a 25.3 per cent ($11/year residential) increase to storm water rates. Council will review and finalize these rates during the budget deliberations.
“As it has been nearly five years since Penticton saw a proposed tax increase greater than 5 per cent, I encourage people to attend the planned events and read the available materials,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki. “As with all draft plans at this stage in the budget process, no decisions have been made, so for anyone wishing to provide feedback, now is the time.”
To learn about the 2022-2026 Financial Plan, open houses are scheduled at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre for Wednesday, November 17 between 4pm and 7pm and Thursday, November 18, between 11am and 2pm. Attendees are reminded that COVID-19 protocols are in place for both in-person events.
For those unable to attend the open houses, two alternative online information sessions – focused specifically on the 2022-2026 Draft Financial Plan – are also available by signing up at the City’s community engagement website shapeyourcitypenticton.ca for either the Business Information Session, November 9, from 7pm to 8:30pm or the Community Information Session, November 15, from 7pm to 8:30pm.
Starting today, residents can get a head start on reviewing next year’s budget by downloading both the 2022-2026 Draft Financial Plan and the 2022 Draft Corporate Business Plan documents off of either the penticton.ca or shapeyourcitypenticton.ca websites or, for people without internet access, there is an ability to review paper copies at the Shape Your City information kiosks, located at City Hall or the Library.
The official window to share feedback runs November 8 through to November 19. Residents can supply their comments online via shapeyourcitypenticton.ca or complete a paper feedback form at the City Hall and Library kiosks.
February 28, 2023
The 2023 Financial and Corporate Business Plan reaffirms the City of Penticton’s focus on safety, lays the groundwork for attainable housing, and maintains established service levels, all while ensuring a sustainable fiscal future.
March 22, 2021
The City’s Bylaw Enforcement Team opened a new location on Main Street, including a Bylaw response front counter and greater visibility throughout the downtown (2020). Additional officers were also deployed during December’s busiest shopping days in 2020, focusing on COVID-19 provincial health order compliance, parking and traffic enforcement, slow clearance and community safety.
October 14, 2021
The City partnered with the Downtown Penticton Association on a downtown safety project. This involved funding project costs to install surveillance cameras on commercial properties in high-crime locations.
Supporting the strategic priority of Community Safety, Council has directed staff to provide the DPA with a $40,000 grant to fund the project costs associated with installing downtown surveillance cameras on commercial properties.
Located in three to five high-crime locations, and featuring signage, two-way voice notifications and strobe lights, each camera will be monitored from 9pm to 9am with the operator, if needed, advising those trespassing or acting irresponsibly to move on or, if needed, dispatching a response from either Bylaw or the RCMP.
November 5, 2019
With Council’s strategic priority of Community Safety top of mind, City staff are set to deliver municipal services supporting a safe, secure and healthy Penticton through a variety of managerial and operational realignments designed to improve cooperation and communication across the City’s three public safety portfolios – Bylaw, Fire and Police.
“2019 saw Council commit to public safety improvements through actions involving funding for new RCMP and Bylaw positions, engagement on safety concerns, revised bylaws for the downtown and meetings with provincial officials on topics ranging from the court system to discarded needles,” said Chief Administrative Officer, Donny van Dyk. “While these public facing initiatives are generating results, staff have identified additional opportunities internally to improve public safety through more coordinated leadership and improved department collaboration.”
Creation of Director of People & Community Safety Strategy
Oversight of two municipal public safety functions – the City’s Bylaw Department and the 25 municipal staff who support the RCMP detachment – along with the City’s Human Resources function, have been combined within a single expanded leadership portfolio, to be held by Kerri Lockwood, now appointed Director of People and Community Safety Strategy.
“The citizens of Penticton are fortunate to have several teams of dedicated people looking out for their safety and well-being, but previously two of those teams lacked the benefit of being aligned under a single point person,” said Director of People and Community Safety Strategy, Kerri Lockwood. “With my appointment into this expanded portfolio, municipal staff, working either directly with the RCMP or supporting them on a daily basis at the detachment, are now united in terms of their leadership and strategic approach.”
Community Safety Steering Committee
With a mandate to improve internal department cooperation surrounding current or emerging public safety issues, the Director of People and Community Safety Strategy will lead the newly formed Community Safety Steering Committee with a membership that includes the City’s Bylaw Services Supervisor, RCMP Officer in Charge (OIC), City Fire Chief, Health and Safety Advisor and Communication Manager.
“Whether it’s for the purpose of planning, operating or responding, these four positions form the backbone of the City’s ability to carry out Council’s strategic priority of supporting a safe, secure and healthy community”, said Director of People and Community Safety Strategy, Kerri Lockwood. “Bringing these four positions together regularly will reduce the likelihood of gaps occurring by way of improved relationships, planning and discussion.”
Arrival of new RCMP Officer in Charge
Earlier this year RCMP Inspector, Brian Hunter, was appointed the incoming OIC for the Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen Regional Detachment. Inspector Hunter is a seasoned leader to take on the OIC role and brings a vast range of policing experience throughout BC to Penticton.
To date Inspector Hunter has met with members of Council, as well as the City’s Senior Leadership Team, to discuss the alignment of the RCMPs duties and functions with the City’s Community Safety priorities.
"After meeting and discussing strategies with Senior Staff and Council, it is evident that the City of Penticton is very passionate about community safety. I am looking forward to joining the Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen Regional RCMP Detachment where we will continue to work collaboratively with the City, ensuring all residents and visitors have a safe place to live, work and play,” said incoming RCMP OIC for the Penticton South Okanagan Similkameen Regional Detachment, Brian Hunter. “I’m excited to work with Council and Staff on our crime reduction strategies that will focus on holding the area's prolific offenders to account.”
Between now and when Inspector Hunter starts, Kirsten Marshall is serving as the Detachment’s Acting OIC.
Opening of Main Street Bylaw office and collaboration with RCMP
Plans are underway to move the City’s Bylaw Enforcement Team from their current location at City Hall to a new office at 284 Main Street, across from Nanaimo Square. Opening is expected in the second quarter of 2020. Designs for the new space are currently complete with construction scheduled for tender this month.
In an effort to forge closer ties across operations and duties of joint interest, the new office will include meeting space for the RCMP’s CSET – Community Safety and Enforcement Team. Also included is a Bylaw response front counter and a public non-emergency call phone with a direct line to the RCMP.
“The planning, lease acquisition and conversion of the Main Street location into an office supporting enforcement and safety activities in the downtown will provide residents and businesses with a more accessible and well placed facility to interact and report matters of concern,” said Bylaw Supervisor, Tina Siebert. “The new office also creates a valuable meeting and planning space where Bylaw and RCMP Officers can collaborate prior to joint deployments into the downtown and surrounding community.”
Greater visibility of Bylaw members
Building on the visible presence of the new Bylaw office across from Nanaimo Square, vehicles operated by the City’s Bylaw Enforcement Team now carry distinctive markings for greater visibility throughout the City.
“A priority for all Bylaw Officers is to project and maintain a presence in those locations around the community where bylaw infractions are a regular or emerging concern,” said Bylaw Supervisor, Tina Siebert. “Vehicles that carry clear markings boost the public’s confidence and awareness that these areas are being regularly patrolled”.
Activation of EOC
The leadership of the City’s Fire Department, RCMP and Bylaw Services, along with key members of administration, have discussed the use of the City’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) during incidents involving threats to public safety, including when to activate.
When activated, the City’s EOC provides operational, planning, logistical and communication support during significant incidents that threaten residents, infrastructure or the environment. How an EOC is activated, including when and by who, is a critical planning procedure when preparing for emergencies.
“EOC’s are normally activated at the request of the Incident Commander or senior municipal official to provide overall jurisdictional direction, control, coordination and resource support to the Incident Commander. It’s critical that all agencies involved in public safety are familiar and integrated into the EOC to provide our community a coordinated response and recovery effort,” said Penticton Fire Chief, Larry Watkinson. “Those with the authority to activate the EOC have recommitted to working together to ensure this important response resource is utilized to its full potential.”
While announcements from the RCMP, Fire Department and Bylaw Services vary operationally, all three functions share common goals and objectives when carrying out Council’s commitment to community safety. To ensure that information coming from each of these areas is aligned and coordinated, the City will begin hosting joint updates featuring briefings on public safety from the RCMP OIC, Fire Chief, Bylaw Supervisor, as well as the newly created Director of People & Community Safety Strategy.
“Sharing information with the community on the topic of public safety is best received when it comes through a unified and planned approach that captures the perspective of each of the City’s three public safety portfolios,” said Penticton Mayor, John Vassilaki. “I’m pleased with the internal efforts being taken by staff to improve the overall administration of the City’s public safety responsibilities. Improving internal collaboration and communication is critical to success”.
Strategic Priorities establish the framework for making collaborative decisions that shape our community. Council’s three priorities for 2019-2021 include the following: Asset & Amenity Management, Community Safety and Community Design.
About the Community Safety Priority
The City of Penticton will support a safe, secure and healthy community.
Strategic Initiatives and Actions
- Enhance safety through partnerships with other service delivery agencies.
- Improve resident and visitor confidence that a safe and secure community exists through engagement, protection, prevention and enforcement.
- Invest in appropriate human assets to keep our community safe and secure.
- Engage the Criminal Justice system through collaborative approaches to reduce the impact of prolific offenders on the community.
- Continuing engagement with BC Housing and Interior Health to reduce or mitigate the effect of the current opioid crisis on the community.
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.