Kelowna’s top cop Supt. Kara Triance is apologizing on behalf of the local RCMP for a misstep in launching a program to protect members of the LGBT2Q+ community without consulting those who it would benefit.
The Safe Place program was launched on Feb. 22, in Kelowna, as a way to give LGBT2Q+ community members who may be victims of crime, feeling unsafe or in distress to come into a building or business and have a safe shelter to wait for police assistance.
While the project has been part of a provincial program for the last five years in consultation with the provincial LGBT2Q+ community, the Kelowna detachment did not consult with the local pride society before its launch.
The Kelowna Pride Society reacted with ‘disappointment’ and ‘concern’ that local officers did not reach out and consult the community before the Safe Place Program was launched.
According to the pride society, it did not know about the initiative until it was made public through media reports.
“Historically, the relationship between the RCMP and the LGBT2Q+ community has been tumultuous. This is why we are disappointed and concerned about the lack of community consultation, which leaves us with many unanswered questions at this time,” stated the Kelowna Pride Society.
Supt. Triance held a press conference Tuesday afternoon following the pride society’s statement.
“The connections that were built (provincially) through that program are ones that I brought from other communities I worked in, and I really deeply apologize for how we have moved forward in rolling out this program,” Supt. Triance said.
She added that she spoke with the Kelowna Pride Society, and they accepted her apology for how the program was launched. She will be meeting with the society later this week to discuss how the program should move forward.
“We will work in collaboration to ensure this is done respectfully and making sure safety is taken into consideration as we move forward, that all of our areas of concern are addressed,” she said.
Several businesses within Kelowna have already signed up to be part of the Safe Space Program and, at this time, can still welcome and harbour any LGBT2Q+ community who need a safe space to call RCMP.
However, RCMP is putting the program on hold and will not be accepting additional businesses that may wish to sign up to the program at this time.
Supt. Triance said she would work with the Kelowna Pride Society to ensure what has been rolled out provincially is aligned with how the program is launched locally.
“Equity, diversity and inclusion are so important to me that we move forward with this perspective in mind in everything we do,” said Supt. Triance. “I am not standing here saying we are going to get it right every time, but I am standing here to tell you I am committed to listening to people and ensuring we are assessing how we are doing our work, reexamining it where appropriate to do so and moving forward that we are taking into perspective a lens that I clearly didn’t have on this as early as this morning.”