Pair of Calgary councillors push for review of need for Victoria Park police station
Two city councillors are calling for a review into the reopening of a police station in Victoria Park in an effort to combat downtown crime
Ward 11 councillor Jeromy Farkas, with support from Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell, says Calgary is the only major Canadian city without a permanent police presence in its core and reinstating the station would restore confidence for people who live or work in the area.
The pair is pushing for an immediate review of the station’s closure in 2017 which was located near Victoria Park.
Councillor Farkas says the station would also boost support for frontline services downtown.
"What I’m asking of council is 'Does this decision make sense given what’s happened in the last two years and crime stats and what can we do to help reopen it?'," Farkas told CTV Tuesday morning. "'Can we ask volunteers to help staff it? Can we look at city land and properties in the area? I’m positive we can do this in a cost effective way and if it means making tough budget choices, less art and fewer bus lanes, and restoring that permanent police station in the downtown I think that'd be worth it."
Farkas adds that residents in the area tell him they’re most concerned about safety, citing crime around the supervised consumption site at the Sheldom M Chumir Health Centre.
"The Calgary Police Service command vehicle, although useful for emergency incident responses and major events, is not a replacement for a brick and mortar station," says Farkas in a statement. "All options need to be on the table to address growing crime in the inner-city. Having a steady, permanent presence downtown will be a positive for the community as a whole and will alleviate barriers for those who have mobility constraints or limited phone or internet access."
Over the summer, the CPS was dealt a $7 million funding cut and, while a service optimization review is currently underway, both Farkas and Farrell say an immediate solution is needed and funding options need to be added to budget deliberations in the fall.
"At the same time as the City is making billions of dollars of investments in our downtown projects such as the BMO Centre Expansion, new arena, and Green Line, we must make every effort to keep Calgarians secure," said Farkas.
The review for request goes to city council on September 30th.