The Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce, the North Shore Business Improvement Association (NSBIA) and the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association (KCBIA) collaborated on an integrated business issues survey, as an effort to work together on behalf of Kamloops businesses. The goal of this collaboration is to compile city wide business impact data regarding pressing issues for business. This year the survey focused on impacts to business from criminality and social disruptions. The detailed report can be found here.
The 3 organizations called a meeting with all levels of Government to review the survey results and discuss the impacts. In attendance in this meeting included:
- MP Caputo
- MLA Stone
- MLA Milobar
- Mayor Christian
A summary of that discussion follows:
This survey is meant to help build a forward path by providing a deep dive into concrete data that can be used to explore and present solutions to help create real change.
Downtown and North Kamloops have been significantly affected, although social issues are pervasive throughout the city.
The vast majority of respondents indicated not only that they have noticed increased criminality or social issues, but also a significant erosion of the public’s perception of safety in the community.
As for specific impacts, surprisingly, theft was the lowest ranked issue among those listed on the survey. The issues causing most significant impact are those associated with social disruption, which may not be specifically illegal, but the impact of which is felt nonetheless. Loitering and Trespassing were the most reported, followed closely by open drug use.
The data found that 85% of respondents have made changes to their security protocols and/or implemented strategies to try and combat these issues.
Significantly, social issues were reported to cost business owners a loss of $1,044,890 over a period of four years, which works out to roughly $250,000 per year. Businesses are also investing a significant amount of money on security changes, costing a reported $1,165,980. The most affected areas, again are the North Shore in downtown, although there is still reported activity in Sahali, Aberdeen, and Valleyview.
The survey also generated a rating based on business owners’ perception of the response of both Crisis Service Officers and RCMP. Both generated negative promotor scores, with 67% of respondents having called the RCMP in the last 12 months.
The last part of the survey looked at how the business community perceives both the City of Kamloops’ engagement with social issues, and the engagement shown by BC Housing. Both showed a general lack of satisfaction, but BC Housing scored lowest with a -95.41 net promoter score (a number determined by scoring engagement on a 1-10 scale, and then separating the numbers out by those who responded negatively, reflected by a negative number, and those who responded positively, who add to the score).
The underlying data tells us that people generally do not feel safe, particularly in the downtown and north shore areas, despite that these issues are pervasive throughout the city, and that social issues are causing real, undue hardship for businesses. Although these issues are not limited to Kamloops, we as a community must decide how to respond to them.
Following the review of the results, there was further discussion:
Prolific Offenders are another piece of this complex puzzle that contribute to social issues. The City of Kamloops gets weekly reports on RCMP and CSO calls, and recently identified 65 Offenders who were responsible for over 1700 RCMP reactions. In addition, they identified 17 individuals who were responsible for 417 case files, none of which any of these individuals were arrested for.
These complex care needs will need to be addressed in order for significant change to be made The City received 1700 Mental Health calls last year, 280 of which were under the Mental Health Act, and 850 Car 40 calls (Car 40 is a program that pairs a mental-health practitioner with an RCMP officer as they respond to calls involving mental-health situations). There are also complications associated with creating more public washroom spaces, as a public washroom cannot be instated without an attendant due to crime concerns.
The City of Kelowna has recently made and implemented a “Community Safety Action Plan”, which Kamloops may be looking to adopt to create a plan of our own to further address some of these safety and security issues.
So if you are a business owner affected by Social Issues in Kamloops, what can you do? Well, being actively engaged with your local Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement Associations is a great start. Answering as many surveys as possible helps to give us concrete data that we can use to lobby government for the supports we need. Kamloops’ Elected Officials are all committed to working together to lobby government for solutions, so the best thing we can do is give them ammunition, whether it be answering surveys, telling anecdotes, or providing any data you can on concrete impacts to the community. The more information we can arm our Elected officials with, the more resources they can leverage to create real, systemic change. If we all coordinate, it makes a significant, united and coordinated effort that is difficult for government to ignore.
Healthy community outcomes are outcomes that work for the whole community. Help us work to support a healthier Kamloops, and get involved in whatever way you can!