My first introduction to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) occurred back in 2004 as a member of South Australia Police. As a general duty member, I was expected to use basic CPTED knowledge, and provide education for break and enter victims to help reduce recidivism.
Fast forward almost 20 years, as a Community Safety Advisor with the City of Kelowna, CPTED plays a pivotal role in our team’s day-to-day duties. During my time here, it became apparent that further education was required both among City employees and the community at large. Misconceptions still exist, whether that be the belief that CPTED is inherently hostile or aggressive, or the complete misunderstanding of CPTED as a process to the point where we often hear “just do a CPTED”.
With these limitations in mind, our team identified the need to not only increase our ability to conduct security audits and reviews, but also to grow essential CPTED knowledge across the entire organization and throughout the community.
In October 2020, the City’s Community Safety Services Branch contracted Steve Woolrich of ReThink Urban, to deliver a five-day, full-spectrum workshop. Twenty-two staff from a variety of departments in the City and RCMP attended, including Community Safety, Bylaw Services, Active Living and Culture, Civic Operations, Parks, Planning and the RCMP Community Safety Unit. The curriculum included the foundational principles of CPTED, and second and next-generation CPTED principles crucial in building a safe and inclusive community.
These twenty-two individuals comprised Kelowna’s first CPTED Cohort, of which I am extremely privileged to lead. I am proud of the work done by the Cohort thus far, not only doubling the number of yearly audits and reviews but, more importantly, we have observed increased cross-organizational collaboration during planning and development stages of municipal projects, resulting in meaningful and effective changes within our community. We have found outstanding successes by bringing together a diverse group of individuals, with subject matter expertise in a variety of fields, and providing them with CPTED training.
Acknowledging that more work is needed to address our community’s sense of safety, we are looking ahead to opportunities for increased collaboration and innovation, for example:
- Providing CPTED training and development opportunities for existing and new members of the Cohort,
- Making greater use of data and analytics to inform CPTED projects and implementing performance metrics to track progress,
- Continuing to incorporate CPTED principles during engagement, planning, and operational phases of supportive-housing, emergency-shelter and outdoor-sheltering sites throughout Kelowna,
- Providing residents with CPTED education through the City’s robust Block Connector program,
- Implementing more community of practice sessions dedicated to CPTED in response to demand from residents.
As one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada, Kelowna faces numerous challenges including increasing social disorder, mental health issues, problematic substance use and homelessness. Is CPTED the silver bullet? Realistically no, however, when implemented appropriately and meaningfully it provides us with a valuable toolset, one we are well positioned to use more often and to greater effect than ever before.
Guest Feature written and submitted by Jason Bedell, Community Safety Advisor, City of Kelowna, BC.
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