Community Safety Is a Council Priority

Jan 10, 2020

The City is committed to working with several partners across all levels of government to join forces in addressing health, housing, and social disorder. Public Safety is important to Council and a significant amount of time, resources and energy are invested into various local programs. Read on to learn about some of the programs and initiatives the City has been working on and what is planned for the future. 

Crime Prevention and Community Policing

Community Policing Programs are active and since 2017 volunteer hours have almost doubled! Dedicated volunteers are working on a bike registration/recovery program called Project 529, which has been successful in recovering and returning 40 bikes to date. They are also doing block watch, speed watch, distracted driving watch, crime watch and assisting with several community events.

The RCMP created a Crime Reduction task force for two 8-week projects—one in the spring and the other in the fall of 2019.  Using intelligence led policing, and modern crime strategies, helped RCMP Members to identify numerous individuals who had outstanding warrants which resulted in arrests, seizures of drugs as well as multiple criminal charges. RCMP Members continually take training to improve service delivery and remain compliant with legislation.  The RCMP’s Bike Patrol Unit consistently monitors activity in both the downtown core as well as other areas within Nanaimo and has strong partnerships with community groups. They also work closely with the City of Nanaimo’s ByLaw Department.  The Nanaimo RCMP is piloting a new online crime reporting tool, which allows citizens to report select non-emergency crimes. To learn more about this pilot project visit Nanaimo RCMP.

Patrolling and Enforcing City Bylaws

Bylaw officers patrol across the City and are responsible for enforcing the City’s bylaws, including:

  • BYLAW 7073 – The Parks, Recreation & Culture Bylaw protects personal safety, outlines rules about temporary shelter and identifies that those using the park must conduct themselves in an orderly manner
  • BYLAW 7250 – The Nuisance Abatement Bylaw can help recover costs associated with nuisance activity occurring on private properties
  • BYLAW 7267 – The Public Nuisance Bylaw addresses impeding or obstructing  persons or vehicles in public places
  • BYLAW 7242 – The Property Maintenance Bylaw deals with encampment outlining that transitory or permanent sheltering on private property is not permitted

Fire Prevention and Community Safety

Nanaimo Fire Rescue have responded to over 1200 overdoses since 2017, making this a big part of their daily work life. Nanaimo Fire Rescue continue to perform their own training exercises, while also training 341 community members for Bystander CPR in 2019. Public education highlighting the importance of working smoke alarms remains a key priority and Nanaimo Fire Rescue has attended 140 community events, creating awareness of fire prevent and safety matters with the public.

Keeping our Parks and Recreational Facilities Safe

Parks and facilities have made several improvements including installing additional lighting and alarm systems, clearing under brush and lifting tree canopies to deter overnight shelter, expansion of the needle box programs and reviewing and changing access points to the facilities. Staff have also have increased the frequency of playground inspections, security, trail clean-ups and patrols. Front line staff have also undergone specialized training and regular review emergency procedures.

Planning for a Safe and Inclusive Community

Municipal initiatives enhanced daytime security downtown, provided showers at Caledonia Park and implemented an Urban Clean Up Program along with the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society. The City’s Community Planning section emphasizes that partnerships are critical, such as being a part of the Community Action Team, the Nanaimo Homelessness Coalition, and the new Health and Housing Task Force, who met with the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions in August and discussed social and health matters impacting our community.

The City recognizes that there is an increased number of people with complex health and housing needs in Nanaimo. Funding is provided to the Unitarian Extreme Weather Shelter and supplements to the housing work supported by BC Housing.  The City supports a Housing First program to place homeless individuals in supportive, non-market and market rentals.  In 2019, the City issued building permits for five separate affordable housing developments, totaling 341 units.  The Affordable Housing Strategy, approved in 2018, has good progress to report with the City exceeding its target number of new purpose built rentals in 2018. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) reported a record number of rental unit completions for last year (536 units), more than double that of the year before (268 units). Overall, purpose-built rentals comprised about 56% of the total units completed in 2018.

Public Safety Next Steps

As public safety continues to be a priority into 2020, here is a list of next steps and in the coming months:

  • Motion approved to increase Nanaimo Fire Rescue training budget for six years to implement Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) training
  • Motion approved to provide funding for one additional staff member for Victim Services
  • RCMP regular members increasing from 144 to 147 in 2020
  • Action items implemented from the Health and Housing Task Force and Nanaimo Homelessness Coalition
  • Launch of HelpSeeker platform connecting Nanaimo citizens to resources and giving partners critical data to make better decisions and funding allocations
  • Continued lobbying to the provincial and federal governments
  • Continued specialized staff training on policies and procedures, opioid awareness and naloxone
  • Community and Current Planning will be focusing on resiliency by design such as creating safe interactive spaces, livable streets and continuing to include Crime Prevention through Environment Design (CPTED) principles in development approval reviews
  • Support Age Friendly Nanaimo in implementing the Age Friendly Plan (endorsed by Council in 2019)
  • Complete the ongoing regional child care needs assessment
  • Plan youth engagement activities in 2020 that builds resiliency and a healthier community
  • Official Community Planning is set to commence in 2020 where public safety will be a priority

To learn more our the Community Safety and Social Issues page. 

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