Dear Mayor and City Council:
RE: Community Safety and Well-being Strategy and Police Service Funding Formula
The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce is supportive of the proposed Community Safety and Well-being Strategy. Edmonton will be one of the first jurisdictions to take a system-wide approach – we recognize the new and comprehensive nature of this strategy means many partners in our community working together in creative and collaborative ways and the Edmonton Chamber will continue to look for ways for the business community to participate.
The Edmonton Chamber has called for governments at all levels to support inclusive economic growth, promoting a business environment of inclusion and expanding economic opportunity for marginalized and under-represented groups. We would like to take this opportunity to mention a few of the example actions which overlap with recent Chamber advocacy: we are strong vocal supporters of urban reserves, including the most recent MOU between the Bigstone Cree Nation and the City of Edmonton. We are likewise committed to building our relationships with Edmonton’s Indigenous community and working towards further actions in response to the recommendations of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We have advocated consistently for downtown vibrancy and see it as a critical part of Edmonton’s economic recovery. We added our voice to the calls for affordable, accessible, and highquality early childhood learning and care. We have advocated to the Government of Alberta for more supportive and affordable housing and increased supports for addictions and mental health challenges and to deliver these services in a coordinated and compassionate way.
As you heard at council this week, it is an urgent priority of the business community to improve the safety of Edmonton’s public spaces across the city, particularly in our business districts and transit system. Businesses have been struggling to manage the impacts of the pandemic and as they work towards recovery, they are also facing extreme safety and security challenges. Commuting workers are reporting a significant increase of crime and disorder on Edmonton’s transit and on streets and parking lots. Many businesses are experiencing harassment of staff and customers and increased theft and vandalism.
Within the Community Safety and Well-being Strategy, businesses in all areas of the city need immediate support from police, peace officers, transit security and multi-disciplinary response teams. Long-term strategies that will result in lower demand for policing must be put in place but businesses need help now. Following the discussion on police funding at committee this past week, we are very concerned that the loss of the Traffic Safety Automated Enforcement Reserve fund will result in significant reductions to overall police funding in coming years unless Council looks for alternative funding sources. While this is an issue we will continue to raise with the provincial government we urge Council in the strongest possible terms to work with Edmonton Police Service and the Commission to ensure there is adequate funding to maintain front-line services. It is paramount that we have enough police presence in all business districts where it is needed. We are supportive of the motion made by the mayor to expand the multi-disciplinary response team programs like Human-Centred Engagement & Liaison Partnership (HELP) and YEG Ambassadors from the allocated downtown vibrancy funding.
While it is critical that police be adequately funded it is also essential for transparency and accountability to accompany this funding. Council discussions about setting the right funding amount should be supported by clear and consistent long-term data so there is confidence that resources are being used efficiently. City Administration must work with Edmonton Police Service and the Police Commission to ensure this information is publicly released and available in a manner that is accessible by the public. Thank you for the opportunity to give feedback. The Edmonton Chamber is eager to be part of this broad and ongoing conversation on community safety and well-being and we understand there is no one solution. While we undertake this work, it is critical the city maintains the core services Edmontonians need.
Edmonton Chamber of Commerce
President & CEO