Community police

Kelowna has two community police stations but one of them should be closed for lack of public use, city officials will suggest to council on Monday.

The community police station that serves the Lower Mission has been closed for a year and nobody has complained.

But there's strong demand among residents and business owners for expansion of services at the Rutland community police station.

City council will consider a recommendation from crime prevention supervisor Colleen Cornock on Monday to cancel the lease for the community police station on KLO Road. The station was opened in 1996 but has been little used and the number of people coming into the building has even begun to decline.

Between 2017 and 2020, visitor counts were monitored to establish the station's usefulness and relevance to the community.

When it's open, barely one person a day comes into the KLO Road station, which operates out of the regional district offices, and the phone rings only four times a day.

The city spent $124,000 in 2013 to equip the office to RCMP standards. Based on what's said by Cornock to be a "conservative" estimate of $20,000 annually to operate the office, it costs the city $260 to serve every person who comes into the office.

Reasons for the low usage, she says, include the station not being located in a "higher needs/crime area", or in an area with a lot of pedestrian traffic. It's also only open whenever the regional district offices are open.

Shuttered since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, there have been "no complaints" from the public about the locked doors at the station, Cornock says.

The city would save $135,000 by cancelling its lease for the office with the regional district. Permanent closure is recommended by Cornock as a way to achieve a city objective to "Improve or stop lower value activities".

In contrast, the city has already budgeted extra money this year for the Rutland community police station so it can offer full-time counter services. It has historically relied only on volunteers to provide limited service to the public.

The phone rings about eight times a day at the Rutland community police station and it's visited by more than 100 people a month. It's "clear", Cornock says, that Rutland residents "want enhanced policing services in their community".