Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Council shows enthusiasm at potential for introduction of Situation Table program in Prince Rupert

The theme of taking the pressure off front line responders when it comes to social issues made for an extensive review at Monday evening's City Council session, as Ms. Shannon Tucker from the provincial Office of Crime Reduction and Gang reduction.

The review makes for a timely update on an issue that was raised during a December appearance from Sergeant Pascal Baldinger of the RCMP, who provided some details towards how much of the interaction of the members of the local detachment, comes through working through social or substance abuse issues in the community.

Ms. Tucker's presentation on the provincial program called the Situation Table provided for a comprehensive overview of the initiative which has recently been introduced to the Terrace area, though that community has yet to implement the program elements.

As for what it could offer Prince Rupert, Ms. Tucker took Council through the various elements of the Situation Table process, highlighting how it is designed to help all agencies build and sustain multi-sector collaboration.

She noted that 50 to 70 percent of calls for Police service are for issues that are for non-chargeable or not criminal in nature, with the table designed to reduce that load on the police and deliver those people to the services that they require.

The goal of the program is to work towards Risk intervention, that would identify and reduce the risks that are present in the lives of vulnerable people.

The make up of the Situation Table would consist of a number of participants, including Police, School District, Social Services, Health Agencies.

They would meet regularly for 60 to 90 minutes, with each individual situation allocated 6-8 minutes for discussion through a pre determined protocol.

Any plan for intervention would come within 24-48 hours of reaching the situation table.

The ability to redirect those in need to the proper care is the main focus for the program, with the success of it one which will take the stresses off the Police, Fire, Ambulance and health care personnel who currently find much of their duties consumed by attending to such situations.

The province offers up start up funding of up to 65,000 dollars with travel assistance towards 5,000 dollars, the provincial ministry also offers up a web presence and assistance with information sharing materials.

Ms. Tucker noted that the closest Situation table in place to Prince Rupert is in Williams Lake and the travel grant could offer an opportunity for Prince Rupert officials to explore their program further.

Council members expresses some strong enthusiasm for the potential of the project in Prince Rupert, with Councillor Adey leading off the discussion to the theme, he spoke of some of the previous work in the community on the proposed project and how it moves beyond the RCMP and takes the social issues to the services that are best able to address them. He also observed that some of the member agencies in Prince Rupert were quite interested in exploring it further.

Among his inquiries was a question towards the nature of the quick intervention towards client needs and if there was a way to address  more immediate concerns outside of the scheduled Situation Table meetings.

Ms. Tucker noted that the province usually recommends a weekly meeting process in order to provide for the best results when it comes to acting on situations.

When it comes to moving forward with the project, the next stage is for the City to apply for the program and to ensure that the requisite partners are lined up to become involved in the program.

Councillor Randhawa explored themes of how to promote the program, while Councillor Cunningham inquired as to how the program has been rolled out in other communities.

He also observed how the local RCMP need additional support towards the local situations and if there is additional funding available for those agencies.

Ms, Tucker observed how the Situation Table could help to identify where services are lacking or there is little in the way of resources and where the need for additional funding may be required.

Mr. Cunningham also asked if any Federal agencies were involved in the project and how they should have a role in assisting with the program. He was advised that at the moment the program was purely a provincial initiative.

Councillor Skelton-Morven noted that the initiative could be a way to tie the services in the community together.

Councillor Niesh asked what the province requires from the City to get the process in motion and how the city can help to move it forward.

In reply, Ms. Tucker observed that first she would have to meet with Inspector Blake Ward of the local RCMP and along with Councillor Adey look to address any gaps in the potential partners and then forward the application for the City to put forward its plans to participate in the program.

The guiding document from which much of the program has been designed from, is titled Getting Serious about Crime Reduction.

It was part of a Blue Ribbon report chaired by MLA Darrly Plecas and delivered to the Legislature in 2014.

The report explored many of the themes that have helped to move the Situation Table Initiative and highlighted how there is a need in the province to address the growing level of social issues that can put pressures on those agencies that deal with the situations on a daily basis.

You can examine that document here.

More on the report can be reviewed here.

The full presentation to Council by Ms. Tucker is available from the City's Video Archive page, the conversation begins at the 33 minute mark.

For more items of note related to Monday's City Council Session see our archive page here.

A wider overview of City Council discussion themes can be reviewed from our Council Discussion archive.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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