The Vancouver City Council held a special meeting Thursday night focusing on public safety.
The meeting was designed to give residents an opportunity to voice their concerns and propose solutions to violent crime and public safety issues in the city.
However, after extensive statements and questions from the board to key stakeholders, little time was left for the public.
Only a handful of public speakers were able to share their thoughts and concerns, and more than 50 people who signed up to speak were postponed to a second meeting scheduled for May 10.
“It took me two years to convince this council that we need to do something,” Vancouver Coun. Melissa De Genova, who led the initiative, told Global News.
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“Public safety is a core business in the city of Vancouver. And residents, people who work in Vancouver, anyone who wants to come to Vancouver and doesn’t feel safe can sign up on the city’s website.”
Representatives from Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Police Department, the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association and several other groups spoke with residents and answered questions from the municipality.
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Crime and public safety will be an electoral issue in the upcoming city council vote in October.
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Vancouver police say the city sees about four indiscriminate attacks a day, and business owners, particularly downtown, have reported an increase in violent shoplifting, broken windows and graffiti.
Police crime statistics in Vancouver paint a more nuanced picture.
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Violent crime rose 1.5 percent citywide in the first quarter of 2022 in the same period of 2021, but there were double-digit robberies and sexual assaults in the inner city, robberies on the west side and assaults in southeast Vancouver.
However, robberies declined by significant margins in eastern Vancouver, as did sexual assaults in southeast Vancouver and assaults on the western side.
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Over the same period, citywide property crime increased by 24.5%, with large increases in theft, theft from vehicles and vehicle theft across the city. However, the number of burglaries fell by seven percent in the entire city and by more than 30 percent in the inner city.
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Over a longer period of time, reported crimes have even remained stable or decreased since 2019.
In the last full year before the pandemic, 5,820 violent crimes were reported to the VPD, or 8.4 per 100,000 population, compared to 5,865, or 8.46 per 100,000 population, in 2021.
In 2019, there were 44,582 property crime reports, 64.34 per 100,000 people, reported in the city, compared to 28,733, 41.45 per 100,000 people, in 2021.
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