The city will work with the Calgary Police Services to ensure up to $8 million is available from the police budget to continue funding the Community Safety Investment Framework in 2022.
Councillors unanimously approved the recommendations at the June 8 priorities and finance committee meeting. It will now head to a full meeting of council for approval.
Last week, the city announced the more than 30 organizations that would benefit from $16 million in city and police funding that was being put into the framework. That was part of the city’s commitment to addressing crisis response in Calgary, with relation mental health, addictions, anti-racism and inclusion work.
They committed $8 million from the city’s fiscal stability reserve for their contribution. The Calgary Police Service also reallocated $8 million to fund the programming.
The report didn’t mention any additional cash committed beyond 2022.
Questions from councillors regarding the investment
Councillor Evan Woolley asked why the CPS was only making a two-year commitment to these investments.
“Why are we only making two-year commitments to this work? For example, the DOAP team is an absolutely proven support not only to the community but also to the Calgary Police Service,” Councillor Woolley said.
“Why wouldn’t we just say we are making a commitment to funding the DOAP and other programs that have proven themselves?”
Police Commissioner Theresa Roessel said that the budget is only approved until 2022. The Calgary Police budget runs on the same cycle as the city’s. This means the next budget review will not be held until 2023.
“Projects like the DOAP team have already proven their effectiveness. As we go through the budget cycle for 2023, we will definitely be developing a longer-term strategy to continue funding the programs that are effective through this process,” Commissioner Roessel said.
Woolley also question why roughly 70 per cent of the CPS allocated funding this year was diverted to other CPS programs.
Deputy Chief Katie McLellan said that was the mandate of the city notice of motion asking for the reallocation. McLellan said that while it’s been reallocated internally, it’s gone into areas that were part of the action plan (missing persons, or professional standards). She said they are committed to action on diversity, inclusion, equity and anti-racism.
“Although the money has been reallocated internally, it still remains committed to those four pieces,” Deputy Chief McLellan said.
Prevention versus reaction
Councillor Druh Farrell acknowledged this was a good start in addressing the problems. Still, she asked how the city was addressing root cause and prevention.
“It’s a start. It’ll be enough when we’ve dealt with trauma and poverty and housing poverty. We are chasing our tails when it comes to societal issues, as we see from the opioid crisis,” Farrell said.
“We have to somehow – if you want to use the analogy from planet youth – start saving the babies instead of pulling them out downstream.”
Melanie Hulsker, acting community director for Calgary Neighbourhoods, said investment into prevention often resulted in savings. But there were no concrete numbers at the time regarding the portion of investment that went into prevention compared to response.
The current 2022 allocations announced today do not yet match the 2021 funding total of $16 million. The city will decide whether to invest more money into the framework later this year.