In response to questions asked by The Phoenix News regarding our articles on the Mona Wang case, Mayor Colin Basran has provided a statement on important updates and initiatives happening within the Kelowna community which we will share below with his permission.
Dear UBCO Students,
In the last few months, City of Kelowna staff and I have initiated discussions with other levels of government, and between health and police officials to explore options for more appropriate ways to conduct wellness checks.
The role of police in addressing issues related to mental health and addictions is not a Kelowna-specific issue – it’s an important conversation occurring across the country.
So far, we’ve met with Interior Health about how to better serve those experiencing a mental health crisis and avoid involving police in non-criminal events. Those discussions are ongoing, and we will be pleased to talk about any new approaches as they emerge.
Similarly, I have had discussions with the Premier and some of his Ministers about the need for more support for the upstream social issues – addictions, poverty, housing – that lead to crises downstream in our cities.
Recently, a new alliance of B.C. mayors called on all provincial parties to address these social
concerns in their election platforms.
The B.C. Urban Mayors Caucus called on the next provincial government to conduct a Police Act review that considers alternative approaches for responding to mental health and addictions calls in the community on a 24/7 basis.
We also demanded the immediate expansion of the full range of addictions and mental health treatment and recovery options in our communities for youth and adults, including appropriate facilities for those with complex needs. We need treatment on demand, so people get it when they need it. And we need action in months not years.
As I said before, we need a more coordinated approach to health and social situations like
mental health checks, and that requires the involvement of all levels of government to address the upstream conditions that lead to these crisis points.
At the same time, we are also doing what we can locally to influence new directions in law
We will welcome Insp. Kara Triance later this month as the new Officer In Charge of the
Kelowna RCMP detachment. I believe Insp. Triance is the right person to see us through the
social change we’re experiencing in our community, with modernized approaches to reduce
crime. Crime reduction requires a collaborative approach and her willingness to work with
diverse groups across all areas of our community will help bring about positive change.
Also, locally, Council has launched the development of a Community Safety Plan that will bring together leaders of upstream systems integral to enhancing community safety in Kelowna. Together, we expect to develop a shared vision for change, a common understanding of problems and joint approaches to solutions through agreed upon actions and adopt shared measures.
We’re making progress and we will continue our advocacy for more upstream prevention, more collaborative and integrated approaches, as well as interventions delivered by the most suitable agencies as determined by the situation, and what most effectively supports vulnerable people in our community.
Mayor Colin Basran
* Statement has been edited for context and approved by Mayor Basran