Blog > My Plan for Safe Communities

My Plan for Safe Communities

Throughout the campaign, safety is one issue that’s come up time and time again. Let’s face it: not all Edmontonians feel safe in our city right now. And that needs to change. A vibrant and connected city is a safe city—for everyone, in every neighbourhood.

Community safety is a complex issue—one that can’t be reduced to a matter of just putting more beat cops on the streets. Edmonton needs a leader who gets this; a collaborative leader who will bring together all stakeholders—regional partners, law enforcement, and our non-profit sector—to the table with Council and City Administration to find the right course of action. We need a balanced and bold leader who has a track record of challenging the status quo and solving problems. I am that leader, and with my Plan for Safe Communities, we will take real action and get real results.

There are five parts to my Plan for Safe Communities:

  • Champion Regional Policing
  • Prioritize Prevention
  • Safety Through Innovation and Technology
  • Address Hate Crimes
  • Recommit to Community Policing

Champion Regional Policing

I’m committed to working with regional leaders to pursue the establishment of an Edmonton Metro Police Service. Crime doesn’t stop at city limits. Criminals don’t respect jurisdictional boundaries. In an era of digital crime and the unrestricted flow of goods and people, we need a collaborative, regional approach so we break down siloes and build up a unified front.

A regional police service will find efficiencies and cost-savings, driving down costly duplication and allowing police to redirect funds to other pressing needs—such as the current condition of our downtown core. I will work with our regional partners—including the municipalities of Beaumont, St. Albert, Strathcona County, Leduc, Leduc County, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove, Devon, and Fort Saskatchewan—and the provincial government to explore a new funding and governance model in support of a regional policing approach. This important conversation begins by bringing all municipal players together to form a task force, the seats of which can be shifted to the Police Commission to ensure all regional players have a voice to share concerns, feedback, and solutions.

I want to be clear: this isn’t about funnelling resources away from the City of Edmonton. With our communities so close together—both in proximity and shared interests—it’s time for us to finally work together and challenge the status quo to better protect our residents. That means breaking down barriers, consolidating data, and joining forces in service of safer communities.

Prioritize Prevention

The best way to fight crime is to stop it before it starts, which includes tackling the societal root causes that drive individuals to lives of crime in the first place. We know that in order to have a safe city, we must have a city where everyone can live with dignity and has a legal path to economic and social opportunities. We need an improved team approach, leveraging insights from community leaders and data models to truly understand, and address, the root causes of crime.

  1. Ensuring a safe place to sleep at night: Require minimum standards at shelters to ensure a dignified and safe place to sleep. This would include culturally appropriate shelter capacity for the disproportionate representation of Indigenous Peoples experiencing homelessness. Advocacy for collaboration and funding should continue with other orders of government, but we must be innovative in finding solutions without delay.
  2. Take concrete action on youth prevention measures: We must recognize youth homelessness and poverty as a different experience than that of adults. They have different needs and different indicators—which demand different solutions. Proper funding for youth agencies will support key preventative measures, including housing for vulnerable youth. I am committed to incentivizing collaboration across Edmonton’s youth support agencies that results in effective outcomes for at-risk youth. We must also work with key-decision makers at other levels of government to develop approaches for creating a safe community that ensure we do not criminalize poverty. This can be accomplished through increasing supports for youth to access free transit, exploring the potential for free transit zones, and creating pathways of dignity for people in encampments to find housing.
  3. Crime Prevention through Economic Opportunity: I will bring REACH Edmonton together with the City Administration to establish a transition to employment program for those most at risk for reoffending. We must ensure that those chasing their livelihoods in the illegal economy see a way to build a life and a future in the legal economy, or the interventions and outreach will not stick.
  4. Crime Prevention and Policing on Transit: I’m hearing from many Edmontonians that they simply don’t feel safe taking our Edmonton Transit System. We owe it to our residents to remove this barrier to public transportation, and we need to act swiftly. I will work with EPS and the Edmonton Police Commission to direct adequate and consistent resources for transit stations and to support our frontline transit workers.

Safety Through Innovation and Technology

It’s time to harness our local innovators and data, apply innovate approaches, and leverage the technology available to us so we can improve the efficiency and outcomes of our safety services. We must respond promptly and effectively to emerging issues such as the tough conversations we’re having about the relationship between racialized communities and police.

  1. Leveraging data to accelerate and improve responses: I was excited to learn about the accelerators recently announced by Innovate Edmonton. We will extract the data and learnings from the Community Safety and Wellness Accelerator to nimbly address society’s most complex problems in real-time.
  2. Utilize emerging technology to find cost-savings: Edmonton is a leading innovation hub, and we need to put this ingenuity to work. For example, instead of the constant use of the Air 1 Helicopter, EPS can use state-of-the-art drones for surveillance. As Mayor, I will empower and encourage law enforcement to use technology in their fight on crime. Criminals are using technology to their advantage—it’s time to fight fire with fire.
  3. Improved safety with controlled liquor store entrances: A council bylaw mandating controlled entrances to liquor stores will provide a consistent approach to a chronic crime problem in Edmonton. In 2019, Edmonton saw a 300 per cent increase in retail liquor theft. In 2020, EPS responded to and investigated 5,057 liquor theft events, averaging 15 events each day. Not only have these ongoing thefts and escalating violence left businesses with millions in lost revenue and put their staff at risk, but they are an unsustainable burden on the taxpayer. In 2020, EPS spent upwards of $4 million in frontline resources responding to and investigating liquor theft complaints. A local Edmonton company has piloted controlled entrances that utilize ID scanning—similar to the system used by bars—and has seen a 95 per cent reduction in theft in 12 months. This is an innovative, cost-effective solution for our local businesses that saves taxpayer dollars and allows our police to focus resources elsewhere.
  4. Ongoing effort to address Safety For All: Within my first 100 days in office, I will launch a joint advisory board made up of EPS and City Administration to prepare an official response and action plan following the work of the Community Safety and Well-being Task Force’s March 2021 Safer for All report. This response will outline the specific steps we can take to explore true integration models from appropriate agencies to ensure a safe experience for all and reserve policing resources for where they’re needed most.

Address Hate Crimes

A safe community is a safe community for all Edmontonians. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, where you pray, who you love or what you believe in, you have a right to feel safe in the place you call home.

The sad reality is that our neighbours are increasingly being victimized in hate-motivated attacks. From 2014 to 2020, Edmonton has had a 219 per cent increase in police reported hate crimes.

Our diversity is our strength and an attack on our diversity is an attack on the heart and soul of our city.

To address hate crimes in Edmonton, we will:

  1. Streamline the victim support program to ensure anyone who has experienced a hate motivated crime can access support services immediately, without feeling revictimized.
  2. Task the City of Edmonton’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee to work jointly with key stakeholders, including EPS, to develop an Anti-Hate Crime Action Plan within 100 days.

Recommit to Community Policing

Edmonton used to be known for our community policing approach. Members of EPS have a presence, but as community members. As Mayor, I’m committed to working with the Police Commission and EPS to continue to implement the Community Safety and Well-being Bureau. A first of its kind in Canada, this bureau moves vulnerable citizens away from the criminal justice system and towards community agencies that can provide the supports that are required. This is achieved through a strong community policing model.

For our city to realize its vast potential, all of Edmonton’s communities need to be safe communities—for everyone. We need focused, data-driven strategies—not ideology, fearmongering, and rhetoric. We need common sense innovation and solution-oriented leadership. With a balanced and bold leader, we can curb this recent spike in crime while keeping our compassion for vulnerable Edmontonians in need.

A vote for me is a vote for a safer Edmonton.