Calgary dedicates $1.9 million to citizen safety downtown

At the heart of Calgary’s downtown core, the concern for safety and crime has risen over the last years. With social disorder increasing along LRT lines, the City of Calgary plans to invest $1.9 million to amplify public safety. In the past, the Government of Alberta provided provincial funding to Calgary for downtown core safety. The funding helped add more task forces and police patrols. The City plans the operating plans and budgets with a four year timeline, and with decisions made in fall 2023, the Ciry settled on enhancing safety by increasing security, lighting and surveillance cameras. With the City’s 2023-2026 plan, the there has been outlines about what they are watching—such as public transit, encampments and street harassment—what the Council has directed, and comparisons of service. “Bylaw Education & Compliance continues to promote equitable access to service and will evolve with Calgary’s increasingly diverse population,” the plan read. The plan outlined that the City plans to use technology in order to create more modern and efficient response services and increase accessibility for Calgarians. The total net operating budget the City plans to use in 2024 is roughly $11,000, pending Council approval. The City’s civic partners will be receiving grants to continue fostering a community of safety. These recipients include Vecova Centre for Disability Services and Research, Contemporary Calgary Arts Society, Arts Commons, Calgary Public Library, MNP Community Sports Centre, Fort Calgary Preservation Society, and Telus Convention Centre. Lori Kerr, manager of major partners, made a statement on Feb. 27, saying that with the funds provided to the civic partners, Calgary can continue to be a safe place for people, staff and customers. “Our civic partners provide important programs and services downtown and near transit and contribute to the vibrancy of our downtown. We want to ensure they can focus their resources on providing their essential services,” Kerr said. In a city survey conducted in November 2023, 500 Calgarians were selected to provide their input on safety on transit and their safety downtown. About 72 per cent of respondents answered positively about their safety on the LRT during the daytime, a 67 per cent increase from the last survey conducted six months prior. However, only about 39 per cent of respondents said they feel safe using transit at night and 34 per cent of respondents said they feel safe waiting for the train at night. One Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts) student says that while she finds the LRT access from AUArts and SAIT is extremely convenient for her commutes, she times her arrivals and departures with purpose. “I’ve just had a few unnerving experiences at night on the CTrain, so I would say I take it less at night unless I’m with friends or in a group,” she says. “I’d say certain areas of Calgary make a difference, but I’ve never really felt comfortable riding on transit at night.” On March 6, the city released the outcomes and recommendations of their Downtown Safety Leadership Table. The table focused on seven areas of concern and evaluated the current state of the areas, the resources, and the gaps. These areas were identified as addiction, mental health, and homelessness influence perceptions of safety, transit safety, congregating and loitering, environmental design and structural condition, coordination and communications, emergency shelters and the centralization of services and criminal activity and law enforcement. More information about the city’s timeline and goals can be found online in their Downtown Safety Leadership Table.

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