As we’re working together to create a thriving, vibrant, economically resilient, healthy city, we must understand the social issues we are dealing with not from a fear-based perspective, but from a place of knowledge.
Polarization isn’t leadership. Our city is facing complex issues that will require courage and open-mindedness to solve them.
At the end of the day, the city’s portfolio around serving people and safety is the number one power of the city and job of the city to ensure. The reality is our city is already experiencing increasing rates of crime and violence, and residential break-and-enters, drug-related violence and offences, gun violence and thefts are all expected to trend upward in the coming years.
Calgary is a wonderful city that many of us truly enjoy. However, we are also aware of the social problems happening. These social problems may impact us at different levels depending on who and where we are.
There is no such thing as believing that one neighbourhood over another is going to not be confronted with violence. Domestic violence, for example, is in every quadrant, in every neighbourhood, in every socio-economic demographic in our city. Similarly, the opioid epidemic is surfacing in families and communities throughout Calgary. Personally, I know of four young women that families have lost this year alone. We’ve all seen the police helicopters circling—street and gang violence are up, sexual violence and trafficking is happening to a ballpark of 800 Calgarians per year (and yes, across socio-economic status), and street harassment and racially motivated violence is putting women, LGBTQ+, and minorities at risk on our streets and on transit.
How do we make life safer for all Calgarians? It is by having the courage to tackle an issue head on and deal with it. Pretending it doesn’t exist or relegating it off to the side is not dealing with the problem.
Certainly, we need to look upstream rather than downstream—to look at the ways we can prevent and mitigate social problems from happening in the first place. Many of the social problems we’re dealing with, if left unattended, end up costing taxpayers dollars much more.
It is my experience that when you treat people with dignity and you offer a basic standard of living in a way that reduces stigma and breaks systemic oppression—whether that is systemic racism and other areas of violence—your community becomes safer. When people are healthy and are given opportunities to contribute to their communities, more often you see a reduction in the use of formal services and systems including emergency room visits, the justice system, policing services, etc.
If elected, I will work with the next council to:
It is important to remember not all crime makes it into our police statistics—crime still happens even if it is unreported or undocumented. Community organizations have visibility into the reality Calgarians are facing but often that reality doesn’t make it into the reports council sees or the media reports that inform public understanding.
I believe we need a full, accurate picture of this reality before we can effectively address the problem. The Community-Based Public Safety Task Force Creating Safe and Connected Communities is a good example of work being done to bridge the gap between reported and experienced crime, and to come up with community-based solutions to make our city safer.
Community problems are not solved by policing, to do that we must fund our community organizations sufficiently. At the same time, defunding our police service does little to fix systemic racism in our police force. We must look at the issues we are trying to solve and understand holistically the funding and resources going to that specific issue—these issues do not exist in silos and we must not treat them as such.