Rapid population growth and a large influx of tourists are behind Kelowna’s rising crime rate, the city’s top cop says, after Statistics Canada reported a dramatic rise in the crime rate. city crime over the past year.
“There are all kinds of tourists coming to our central Okanagan region to experience this incredible place – you see an increase in police-related incidents matching these tourism numbers and these daily population numbers,” said the Kelowna RCMP superintendent. Kara Triance.
According to Statistics Canada data released Tuesday, the central Okanagan city, one of fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country, which is home to more than 222,000 people – recorded one of the highest crime rate in Canada in 2021, at nearly 12,000 cases per 100,000 people.
That’s 7% higher than Kelowna’s crime rate last year, and the highest among B.C.’s four metropolitan areas – including Vancouver, Victoria and Mission-Abbotsford – highlighted in data from Statistics Canada, each having recorded over 6,000 criminal incidents per 100,000 population.
According the federal agency, Kelowna—with Lethbridge, Alta. – also had the highest rates of opioid-related crime, including possession, trafficking and production of the substance.
“Drug trafficking or organized crime – these are things that will affect our safety and our city,” she said.
However, Triance adds that she believes further action is needed to help tackle crime.
“I don’t believe it’s just a police response that’s going to solve this problem,” Triance said on CBC. South Dawn.
“It’s usually about complex substance abuse, mental health and addictions issues…housing [and] homelessness can also be a factor in this regard. »
Comparisons with Whistler, Niagara Falls
Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran says he understands the frustration over the rising crime rate, but the city needs to hire more police as its population grows.
The City of Kelowna says its spending on the RCMP has increased 84% over the past six years, from $28 million in 2016 to about $51 million in 2022. During that time, 49 new constables have been hired.
“It’s going to take continued investment and continued conversation,” Basran said.
He added that he, along with other mayors across the province, were talking with the provincial government about whether increasing the number of police officers would help solve the problem of prolific offenders.
But local businessman Tom Dyas, Kelowna mayoral candidate in October’s mayoral election, says simply hiring more police won’t solve the city’s high crime rate.
He disagrees with the idea that tourists are driving up the city’s crime rate.
“If that were the case, there would be communities like Whistler, Vancouver and Niagara Falls that would also be in that position, but that’s not the case,” Dyas said.
“You have to come up with additional new ideas, and you can’t sit back and wait for someone else to handle these situations on your behalf, because it’s our community that’s affected.”