Public safety is a topic that’s trending in Nanaimo these days and it was the subject of a community forum this week.
The City of Nanaimo held a public safety engagement session Wednesday night at the Beban Park social centre.
Public disorder, RCMP priorities, emergency management, derelict buildings, the Community Policing and Services Office, city bylaws, public safety education and home safety were the chosen topics, discussed in a world café format where members of the public rotated from table to table over the course of the evening.
Vancouver Island University masters of community planning students facilitated and city staff and members of council were there to participate.
Coun. Gord Fuller said a range of topics were discussed at his table, but much of the conversation was about the increased number of people experiencing homelessness and related safety and security concerns. He said he’s noticed, “big time,” that public safety is top-of-mind in Nanaimo lately.
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He said people at his table also talked about possible impacts of more supportive housing, and asked for increased lighting in certain areas of the city.
At other tables, residents asked for more police, bylaw enforcement and mental health support. A few tables mentioned long-term solutions were necessary, with a need for housing cited a few times.
“One of the things we talked about is education, and this can be education for community members who are coming here with a specific issue in mind and then learning about other things,” Fuller said.
He said there’s a tendency for individuals or groups to want something in particular when sometimes what’s needed is for different groups and community members and levels of government “to put all that aside and come together and work towards accomplishing a mutual goal. It doesn’t matter who gets credit for that goal, but working towards getting there.”
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong cautioned that with some of the solutions proposed, there could be “roadblocks.” She said the city was anticipating a report on the engagement session in a week or two.