Premier must provide real action on public safety In Alberta

With a few weeks until the provincial election, rumours are circulating that Premier Danielle Smith may announce temporary Sheriffs this week for public transit in Calgary and Edmonton. Temporary because they are likely to leave RIGHT AFTER THE ELECTION, just like the other 12 temporary Sheriffs sent into Chinatown. 

While some may welcome a few more temporary security personnel, to "solve" these problems, (many of which have been caused by the provincial government cuts, freezes, or neglect over the last 4 years)... More of the disorder we are seeing on the Southside is a result of displacement from downtown. We need ACTUAL action on mental health, addiction, poverty and disorder.
Band-aid announcements are not enough. I will share a few of the actions we are taking as city council, and try to provide you a deeper overview into the complexity of the issue.

Transit safety is really important to me, and I'm tired of pre-election gimmicks. Let's unpack the safety issue a bit further...

While some may welcome a few more temporary security personnel, to "solve" these problems, (many of which have been caused by the provincial government cuts, freezes, or neglect over the last 4 years)... We need ACTUAL action on mental health, addiction, poverty and disorder. Under the UCP homelessness has nearly doubled from 1586 in 2020 to 2865 in March 2023. It's estimated another 8 people a month are becoming unhoused. Many are youth aging out of government care and losing supports.
Sometimes I've felt unsafe. I hate it. Everyone has a right to feel safe & welcomed on transit. Everyone deserves a fast, frequent, safe, reliable, trip. Everyone must follow the rules. Overwhelmingly for the vast majority of trips (1.25 million/week!) that is the case.
Last budget City Council raised taxes and hired an additional 25 Transit Police (in training, starting soon), hiring social workers, bridge housing, provided millions more for Edmonton Police.
Mayor Sohi wrote up an excellent budget summation here:
  • An additional $7 million for 2023 to the Edmonton Police Service to improve enforcement.
  • Since 2019, the Government of Alberta reduced the City’s share of automated enforcement revenues from 73.3% to 60% effectively reducing the EPS budget by $7- $8 million annually. In order to deal with this funding shortfall and to permanently reduce EPS dependency of this unpredictable and declining revenue, Edmonton City Council made a significant decision to replace traffic enforcement revenues with a $22.3 million annual property tax levy.
  • $15.2 million for the Healthy Streets Operations Centre located in Chinatown to improve safety in the Downtown core, Chinatown, and other nearby business districts.
  • $13.5 million over four years for additional transit enforcement and social services support, including hiring new Transit Peace Officers.
  • An additional $35 million in capital funds and $18.7 million annually in operating funds for Affordable Housing and Homelessness Prevention.
  • An additional $6.6 million annually for the Affordable Housing Grant Program that provides municipal property tax relief to affordable housing providers. The Government of Alberta continues to collect its share of property taxes from affordable housing providers.
  • $10.8 million over four years for 24/7 Crisis Diversion to reduce pressure on EPS resources.
  • $3.7 million annually for the Public Washroom to improve cleanliness and public health.
  • $1.2 million annually for the Problem Property Initiative.
He also provided a recap of the decision to extend the Community Outreach Transit Teams in partnership with Bent Arrow: https://medium.com/mayorsohi/edmontons-successful-cott-program-to-be-expanded-and-renewed-for-three-years-4496ed1005c5

Edmontonians didn't cause these problems, nor do we have the tax baseto fix them.
We see more people in the streets, addiction, untreated mental illness, more desperation. We have a premier more interested in $2000 millions for orphan well owners (See R-Star) than youth in care, more interested in judicial interference on behalf of her friend under house arrest than justice system reform.
There will be people sleeping out in malls, LRT Platforms, the library, emergency rooms, as long as we have a lack of appropriate affordable housing options. Here's a copy of a media advisory we released prior to Transit Camp about the need for systemic action on Transit Safety.
We spend record amounts on police and prisons - arrest, remand, repeat cycle.

We're going broke until we address causes. Read police reports - drivers of crime is really public health. Even Police Chief McFee admits that we will never police our way out of crime.
It's not HOUSING or ENFORCEMENT. Alberta hasn't even tried HOUSING in a meaningful way.

More people are becoming homeless every month. Edmonton needs 3000 supportive units now, and 60,000 units of affordable housing units by 2026. Calgary likely the same.
Edm Fire? Only 7.3% of their calls last year were fire suppression.

Three quarters of their calls are health related, again, filling the gaps for the provincial health care and EMS system. This includes drug poisoning following the UCP closures of safe consumption sites.
It didn't used to be like this. Even five or ten years ago, we weren't seeing the carnage under Redford or Prentice or Notley. The stats show that things really took a nose dive after 2019/2020.
On Transit, no one should not be doing drugs, peeing or fornicating, sleeping. Close the train. Problem solved?  They just shuffled the problems into your alleyway, Chinatown to Whyte Ave, to Riverbend, to the mall, from Remand back into Chinatown. 
Every city in North America is struggling with these challenges post pandemic.

One thing they ALL say doesn't work? Short term bandaid solutions, especially cynical pre-election ones. The Premier must stop people, especially youth at risk from ending up in trouble in the first place.
We'll be posting the videos from Transit Camp shortly on www.michaeljanz.ca/transitcamp2023 and you can hear national experts like
David Cooper talk about Transit safety and how we can actually build a society that is safer for all of us!

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