The City of Victoria is funding two Victoria police officers to join an integrated mental-health team.
Victoria Council asked that police work with service providers and those with mental-health issues, addiction, and homelessness to develop the criteria to assess the pilot project. The first year is being paid for from the city's 2016 budget surplus.
Some of the homeless population can exhibit anti-social behaviours. Others require early, focused, and intensive intervention to prevent them from falling further into crisis. These behaviours may affect the public's perception of safety that, in turn, can affect local businesses.
"With or without a home, we all need to feel safe and part of the community" said Chamber CEO Catherine Holt. "Police are already a critical front-line service-provider in helping the street-entrenched population. Having additional officers who specialize in mental illness will make this effort more effective."
The City of Victoria has a disproportionately higher population of homeless compared to other Greater Victoria municipalities. Further, 90% of services for this population are concentrated in Victoria. The City of Victoria does what it can to address this issue with a tax base of 80,000 residents.
As with many other regional issues, a plan for funding and services shared throughout the region would be a healthier way to address the problem.