Edmonton’s Downtown Core and Transit System Safety Plan
Read the comprehensive plan containing 16 concrete actions and 5 core asks that I sent to Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro.
Today Minister Shandro received our plan to address public safety, which details the City of Edmonton’s extensive actions to improve public safety on our core streets and across our transit system. The Downtown Core and Transit System Safety Plan outlines twelve recent actions that the City of Edmonton has taken to support public safety from a perspective that includes: enforcement, collaboration, bylaws, cleanliness, and communication.
The plan also describes four streams of longer-term work that will improve integrated services, program access, community development and economic development. In addition, it confirms that Edmonton has a strong framework to guide decision-making, thanks to other plans supporting community safety and well-being, and transit safety and security.
Let me be clear, though we created this document in response to the letter from Minister Shandro, the work in here is not new. Your City Council has worked with administration, the Chinatown community, Downtown stakeholders, and law enforcement since the beginning of our term. I believe that by building trusting relationships, we can effectively address any concerns communities have.
We have shown many times that Council can move quickly when we respond to asks from community. On May 24th, 2022, we dedicated $300K to address Chinatown safety and in February, we also immediately addressed transit safety concerns with $3.9 million for Community Transit Outreach Teams, as well as deploying Peace Officers to hot spots. We have even shifted longer-term strategies in response to feedback, such as amending our Neighbourhood Renewal actions for areas that have identified safety as a main goal.
Just this week, your City Council voted to maintain Edmonton Police Service funding and create a new funding formula to ensure policing is properly funded as part of the City’s safety ecosystem. Council also committed to cover the large gap in the City’s share of photo-radar revenue after the province upped its take of the fund’s cash in fall 2019.
- Strategies to increase public cleanliness, improve streetscape, encampment clean-up, and community vibrancy
- Creating a Healthy Streets Operation Centre that will be located in Chinatown
- Increasing Police Officer and Peace Officer presence, coordination between City and social service agencies, and enhancing transit safety
As Policing costs increase for municipalities, we are not seeing a meaningful increase in support from the province. In fact, the province has not increased its contribution to policing in any municipality since 2004. Their per-capita funding for Edmonton has stayed at $16 for 18 years, despite inflation and labour costs spiking.
The province has also not increased the Police Officer Grant since its creation in 2008, leaving Edmonton taxpayers to cover costs associated with the 105 officers covered by the grant. These costs have nearly doubled since the grant was created. This plan asks the province to keep pace with increasing costs rather than downloading them to property taxes.
The Minister’s letter notes that the provincial government would support initiatives that would boost the City’s safety efforts and work with us to address the underlying causes of social disorder. To make the City’s needs clear, we have included asks for the provincial government that would effectively decrease the workload on police and would reaffirm the province’s responsibility to fund the services that make cities strong.
Our asks for the provincial government:
- The province increases its contribution to the Edmonton Police Service to match their funding with inflation and population growth.
- The province steps up to improve emergency shelter conditions (provide additional funding to shelter providers to implement the City’s Minimum Emergency Shelter Standards.)
- The province increases the availability of shelter spaces and transitional housing.
- The province funds wrapped around services for supportive and permanent housing. The province increases Homeward Trust’s funding by $8.9 million on an ongoing basis, starting in 2022, and continues to increase that funding to give us the same support they provide to Calgary.
- The province deals with the ongoing drug poisoning crisis through investment (data collection, funding for addiction response, mental health supports, etc.)
I value transparency and accountability. That is why we have decided to release this plan in full on the City of Edmonton website and include a full listing of the referenced strategies, bylaws, and supporting documents totalling over 300 pages.
I encourage you to go and read through to see exactly what we are doing now, in the future, and what we are asking of our provincial government.
Edmonton deserves better, and I believe that our Council and administration, in collaboration with community leaders, businesses and other orders of governments, have the tools and will to create a safe Edmonton for all for us.