The City of Regina will be implanting a new plan that will tackle some of the biggest issues facing the Queen City.
City council approved the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan (CSWB) designed to address Regina’s health, social, and economic concerns.
The plan includes several important parts:
- It provides background information on crime prevention, community safety, and well-being.
- It outlines the plan development process, including collecting data for a community safety assessment and identifying key CSWB priorities.
- It provides an implementation plan, including recommendations and actions to address priorities.
- It offers a recommendation for plan governance and considerations for increasing the likelihood of success and sustainability of CSWB work in Regina.
The development of Regina’s CSWB Plan involved an in-depth community safety assessment with several data collection methods that were used to inform plan development.
The plan outlined six major priorities and also issued recommendations to address these priorities.
Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence – During the community safety assessment, many residents identified domestic violence and intimate partner violence as a concern in Regina, with elevated concern since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2019 to 2020, Regina family/domestic violence victim support services have seen a 20 per cent increase in referrals and a 23 per cent increase inactive files.
- Establish Community Action Table for domestic violence and intimate partner violence
- Implement initiatives to prevent domestic violence and intimate partner violence
- Strengthen services to identify and offer support in situations of domestic violence and intimate partner violence
- Ensure adequate emergency response supports are available for those fleeing situations of domestic violence and intimate partner violence
- Establish supports and services for survivors, perpetrators, and their families to facilitate healing
Food Insecurity – Residents identified food insecurity challenges in Regina, including limited access to affordable, healthy food and a need for more supports for those with low income. This was echoed in the survey responses and quantitative data indicating that requests for service from the Regina Food Bank increased dramatically in 2020.
- Establish Community Action Table for food insecurity
- Ensure basic food needs are met while establishing approaches to address food security, strengthen food systems, and support residents in achieving their diverse food needs
- Increase access to healthy food and water for all residents
- Address issues of food affordability, particularly for those with low incomes
- Support and develop opportunities for urban agriculture
Problematic Substance Use – Community members highlighted concern over problematic substance use, who emphasized the need for harm reduction facilities, including safe consumption sites, overdose prevention sites, needle disposals, and greater access to Naloxone kits and other harm reduction supplies along with more accessible detox and treatment services. This issue was reiterated by survey respondents, of which 3/4 indicated that the use of opioids/fentanyl in Regina is problematic/very problematic, and police data indicates that overdose deaths in Regina have increased 300 per cent between 2018 and 2020.
- Establish Community Action Table for problematic substance use
- Prevent and reduce the harms associated with drug use, drug-related offences, addictions, and overdose
- Decrease the presence of needles and other drug paraphernalia in public places
- Reduce the stigma surrounding substance use and addictions
- Increase education on and public awareness of problematic substance use
Racism and Discrimination – Racism and discrimination were frequently highlighted as CSWB challenges in the community safety assessment. Community members indicated these issues are highly prevalent in Regina across various sectors and in general (i.e., being followed, stared at, or yelled at when walking down the street), and greater efforts are required to address them. These findings were also emphasized in the 2019 Vital Community Conversations Report, which indicates that hate crimes in Regina and the surrounding area have increased since 2014.
- Establish Community Action Table for racism & discrimination
- Recognize and reject racism and discrimination in Regina
- Support individuals in accessing safer spaces and services
- Provide opportunities to create diverse and inclusive communities and workplaces
Safety – Official crime rates indicate that Regina’s Crime Severity Index has recently increased (higher than the national average). During the community safety assessment, residents also indicated concern related to safety in Regina, specifically related to going out alone at night (especially downtown, including Heritage, and in North Central), general infrastructure design in certain areas of the City, abandoned houses, vandalism, unclean streets, and lack of lighting. According to the 2014 Safe Cities Profile Series report from Statistics Canada2, just over one-third of Regina residents were very satisfied with their personal safety from crime and less than half felt safe when walking alone after dark.
- Establish Community Action Table for safety
- Focus on upstream prevention and early intervention to reduce risks, harm, crime, and victimization and improve overall well-being
- Address social disorder and crimes committed out of despair
- Address residents’ concerns around physical safety in Regina
- Engage residents by providing information and awareness on the realities of community well-being and safety in Regina
- Enhance the incident response and recovery to support community healing
Service System – Service System refers to networks of organizations and agencies that support individuals and groups in various ways, including mental health, substance use, employment, food security, education, etc. Many community members highlighted a need for more accessible, sustained, local programs with extended hours to address addictions, mental health, homelessness, gangs, trauma, poverty, among other challenges.
- Establish Community Action Table for service systems
- Pursue a collective impact approach for the Regina human service system
- Increase the accessibility, inclusion, and centralization of services
Other important issues brought forward included housing and homelessness, inclusion and cultural development, neighbourhoods, policing and crime, recreation and leisure, and roads and transportation.
Ward 3 Councillor Andrew Stevens said that the plan was a long-time in the making.
“I think it is going to be a gamechanger in the long-term in how the city responds to these important issues,” he said. “I think it really does set up for more collaboration, more strategic collaboration with community organizations, the provincial government, and the federal government when it comes to dealing with important issues like domestic violence, inequality, racism, housing and security, homelessness, and other anti-poverty initiatives.”
The plan was first discussed in November 2019, when Regina city council brought forward a motion to develop a CSWB Plan for Regina. This decision was made based on the municipality’s level of crime and violence at the time, along with various underlying social issues, including poverty, addictions, mental health, and inequality within vulnerable populations.
The plan was brought forward at a special council meeting last month but was only approved in principle, as the council wanted to discuss the plan further. More specifically, council wanted to discuss the governance and how the plan would be implemented.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, council approved $800,000 in annual funding to create an external, non-profit organization that would take the lead in implementing the plan. That organization would be funded by the government but answer to a board of directors.
Now that the plan was been approved city administration is now tasked with the governance model for the external organization, as well as, gathering members from community members to create ‘tables’ to help address the issues laid out in the plan.
The entire plan is budgeted for about $1.38 million in the 2022 budget.