Regina City Council discusses ‘unwanted guest’ policies at special meeting

REGINA –

A program designed to help address downtown safety and security spurred by a review of “unwanted guests” is the only topic at Thursday’s special meeting of Regina City Council.

The Community Support Program is led by the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID) and launched in June on a pilot basis.

The issue for the council is to approve a one-time grant of $ 200,000 to support the program into 2022 with a major discussion on its funding future also expected during the meeting.

A submission to the council by RDBID CEO Judith Veresuk said that this program is the answer to a previous “piecemeal approach” to security issues at the center such as providing input to the Regina Police Service (RPS) on the statute for unwanted guests, teaching and advocating for better lighting in Victoria Park.

“Every effort we made was important, but every effort seemed to be interrupted from the next,” Veresuk said in his submission.

The submission goes on to detail how the program is modeled after a similar program in Saskatoon and a list of some of the early successes it has been seen, including:

  • Collects more than 200 needles.
  • Distribution of water and snacks to the needy.
  • Deescalates several quarrels in Victoria Park, reducing the need for police action.

“We are delighted with the progress the team has made over the past summer,” Veresuk writes. “As we head into a very cold winter, our team will continue to be present and accessible to our most vulnerable populations.”

WHAT IS ‘THE UNWANTED GUESTS BYLAW’?

According to the administration report before the Council on Thursday, Unwanted Guests Bylaw refers to an initiative implemented in 2015 by RPS to address “disruptive behavior” in businesses. Among other things, tickets can be issued to people who repeatedly return to a company after being issued a ban.

The Council instructed the administration in 2020 to take the initiative for review, which led to the development of the Community Support Team.

The report said that through consultations with various groups, including RDBID, the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry and more, concerns were raised that the policy “contributes to criminalizing homelessness and dependence and reinforces stigma and discrimination that the predominantly racist and poor individuals, who received a ban, already facing. or tickets. “

RPS was also involved in the process, which the administration said has resulted in changes in the way police respond to breach issues.

“Recent changes in the enforcement of the initiative show a decrease in the number of inquiries to the police,” reads the administration report. “Ongoing commitment to increase support for alternative approaches to response can reduce the potential negative consequences of this initiative on vulnerable populations in Regina.”

The items to be considered by the Council during the extraordinary meeting starting at 13.00, is set for approval.

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