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Pair of pilot projects aimed at curbing social, crime issues

Members of the City of Grande Prairie’s Protective and Social Services committee have tentatively approved two new pilot projects aimed at reducing crime and public disturbances. The city says, using information gathered from the 2020 Citizen Satisfaction Survey, internal stakeholders, and the RCMP, that social disorder, property crimes, and drug use are the most widespread community concerns.

The first project, the Mobile Outreach Program, will partner an enforcement officer and an outreach worker together, with the hopes of offering more immediate help to citizens with concerns. They will have a roving presence in the public 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

“To be in a position to more rapidly respond to community disorder issues that maybe are not to the level of criminality,” says Mayor Bill Given.

The four-month pilot project is modelled after the City of Calgary’s Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership, or DOAP team. In that city, the program works in conjunction with the Alpha House, a not-for-profit that provides a safe environment for those battling addiction.

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“They are able to intervene in situations where they may be able to be more effective than a uniformed RCMP officer,” Given adds.

The second project, dubbed the Crime Mitigation Grant, would allot funding for residents, businesses, and not-for-profits to complete projects they would believe could help mitigate crime in a meaningful way. The total funding amount available if $50,000, with individual projects not exceeding $5,000.

The Mobile Outreach Program pilot is set to cost the City around $200,000, with the cash coming from the Community Safety Initiatives capital fund that was approved during last fall’s budget deliberations.

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