A new online survey aimed to help develop a well-being and community safety plan for the Cariboo Chilcotin region will be available online until Oct. 31, 2019.
The Cariboo Chilcotin Well-Being and Community Safety Survey launched Monday is the result of a partnership with key stakeholders and the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention.
Dave Dickson, manager of community safety, RCMP Williams Lake detachment, said the survey results will help as the region continues to work on its community safety plan.
“Talking to other communities in Ontario, we’ve learned it is a good practice to do a survey to see what people think of their community,” Dickson said. “What are the issues? How can we do things better? As we move forward building a strategic plan, if we have an understanding it helps us better align the challenges with the plan.”
Dr. Felix Munger, managing director of the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention, will be in Williams Lake on Saturday, Sept. 14 and has meetings planned with some local Indigenous communities, young mothers and homeless people, Dickson said.
“We met with Anne Burrill last time of Housing First and some of the people she works with. Homelessness is a big issue, not only in Williams Lake, but then you couple that with addictions and it makes it difficult for a person to get a place to stay.”
Dickson said there are lots of great services in Williams Lake, and the hope is to build a community plan that ties all the services together.
“If we can have a common goal to deal with the vulnerable people in our community, I strongly believe we can reduce crime — if we can help the people that we see in the park, that are laying on the street, begging or panhandling, or doing petty thefts to support their addictions.”
Recently the City of Quesnel adopted several new bylaws to restrict loitering in specified downtown areas between May 1 and Sept. 30 with fees charged to offset the cost of responding to repeat calls.
Reacting to the bylaws, Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said he did not see how homeless people could be fined.
“How can homeless possibly pay they don’t have money,” he told the Tribune.
“We are trying to help homeless people here in Williams Lake. Some don’t want to be helped, but if they have other issues we are trying to help them and find them accommodation. To fine them would be senseless.”
Dickson said Surrey has a well-being community safety plan, while Burnaby and Williams Lake are working on theirs.
“It all ties into working with vulnerable people to identify the problems and how we as a community, not just the city of Williams Lake, but all the surrounding communities, can work on a plan that we can all buy into with a common goal to make it safe and help people become well,” Dickson said.
The survey, which is only available online, takes about 10 minutes to complete and contains questions about one’s health, education, recreation, employment and about living and working in the region.