Community safety is our top priority in 2022. As part of this year’s budget, the City has identified a number of key initiatives to address concerns about safety in Penticton. Follow this page for updates on these initiatives and other ongoing efforts to support community safety.
- Community Safety Resource Review: This review will look at RCMP, Fire and Bylaw operations to determine how resources should be best allocated to meet ongoing demand for services. This will involve identifying long-term staffing requirements and providing direction for how to address future needs.
- Enhance Bylaw Services: The City is hiring six new members of the Bylaw enforcement team, including four Community Safety Officers. This will extend their services until 11 p.m. daily, providing more street patrols and greater ability to respond to calls and complaints.
- Increase RCMP: The RCMP added four police officers in 2022, bringing the total increase in officers from 2020 to seven and bolstering the RCMP’s ability to proactively target prolific offenders.
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.
July 12, 2022
“We’re all concerned about community safety and understand the frustration that many are feeling in our community as they sense our city is changing for the worse.
“Any crime that makes any one of us feel less safe impacts the entire community – whether that’s stolen property, harassment on the street or something more serious.
“We all agree on the need to work together on solutions and to push them forward. But this must be done in a co-ordinated fashion; we don’t need to operate in ways that create more stress in the community.
“Ensuring a safe, secure and healthy community is a priority for the City of Penticton. We’ve taken steps through the hiring of additional RCMP officers, increasing the number of community safety bylaw enforcement officers and conducting a community safety review.
“The community has taken steps by joining groups like Citizens on Patrol, by signing up for programs like Project 529 to help stop bike thefts and Lock Out Auto Crime, conducting a CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) and supporting restorative justice programs. We will be looking to expand these programs and deliver new ones.
“But it’s not enough just for the community to come together – we need more partners.
“The province needs to step up and deliver what we’ve been promised. It’s time to stop the catch-and-release program that sees a small group of people consuming a high percentage of police time. We need BC Housing to deliver on the promised recovery centre on Skaha Lake Road and we need Interior Health to provide effective wrap-around services to those in need.”
“Together, we can make change and I hope to hear ideas from residents on how to achieve these goals through practical and legal methods.”
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.
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.
- 2022-01-13: Bylaw tackling social issues: Community Safety Officer recruits aiming to help expand Penticton's bylaw team to cover social issues
- 2022-01-10: New Penticton Community Safety Officers will focus on social issues
- 2021-12-15: No time to waste hiring new bylaw staff
- 2021-12-14: Penticton bylaw department increasing hours and days of service
- 2021-12-09: City of Penticton to conduct $75K community safety review
- 2021-12-05: Penticton to review community safety
- 2021-10-03: Penticton’s mayor pushes for more cops and bylaw officers to combat crime
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.
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.
Further Information & Resources
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.