Calgary Police shuttered the last remaining police station in the Greater Downtown in November 2017 making Calgary the only major municipality in Canada without a downtown police station.
Downtown vacancies, opioid crisis and COVID-19 pandemic have impacted community safety
The unprecedented wave of overdose deaths, and personal and societal distress due to the opioid crisis had begun even before the decision to close the Victoria Park Police Station was announced in November 2017. Meanwhile, surging vacancies caused by the economic downturn were further exacerbated by the pandemic and increase in working-from-home— resulting in fewer eyes on the street Downtown. This has decreased the sense of safety for Calgarians. Ward 8 needs a councillor who will make community safety a priority, leading our Downtown’s economic recovery and expanding our network of services to help people in crisis.
But we need more than a police station to achieve the community safety needs of our downtown core. Our neighbours are hurting. People who are houseless or have precarious housing, who are struggling with addiction, and who need more than one safe injection site or a few already overwhelmed shelters. We need to reimagine and then create a holistic action plan for community safety. One where Calgarians from all walks of life feel welcome and safe in the heart of their city.
Stephen Avenue Safety Hub is a good first step
The Calgary Downtown Association in partnership with the City of Calgary is piloting a new Safety Hub on Stephen Avenue. (Source: Calgary Downtown Association)
This September, the Calgary Downtown Association and The City of Calgary took an important step towards improving safety with the opening of the Stephen Avenue Safety Hub. Rather than a traditional police station, the Safety Hub will provide space to support operations for Calgary Police Service, Calgary Community Standards (Bylaw) and Calgary Transit right in the Downtown and surrounding area. Future plans include other community partners, such as Alpha House, to operate services out of the space.
Ward 8 needs a champion for more holistic community safety
As a community organizer in Ward 8, I have led successful initiatives to create safer communities in collaboration with the Calgary Board of Education, The City of Calgary and Calgary Police Service. The Stephen Avenue Safety Hub is a great first step to reversing a short-sighted reduction in resources for safety in Ward 8 and Downtown, while also acknowledging that safety is more than just more policing. We all know that much more is needed across Ward 8.
Ward 8 needs a councillor who will champion a more holistic approach to community safety. We need to have the courage to address the root causes affecting public safety, such as mental illness and houselessness, and pursue solutions that use the best tools for the job.
The continued use of public money to subsidize the operation and maintenance of utilities and services for sprawling development is spreading us thin. In order to continue paying for sprawl, the City has to cut funds elsewhere. We are paying the price in more than one way, compromising the safety in our Downtown and inner city neighbourhoods. Ward 8 needs a councillor who will stand firm in opposition to subsidizing more sprawl on the far-flung edges of town.
The success of Calgary’s recovery depends on a vibrant and attractive Downtown and the ability of our city to attract talent and investment. This cannot be accomplished without a more holistic approach to community safety. If elected, I will ensure this is a priority in Ward 8.