Six years ago, Mayor Sharon Shepherd created a new committee for the City of Kelowna called the Women’s and Community Advisory Committee. Made up mostly of women, from all different walks of life, the committee’s role is to provide advice to council on social issues. I have learned so much from these dedicated committee members while working alongside them to make Kelowna a better place for women, which in turn makes it a better place for everyone.
Because some of the members worked with women who had been victims of violence or had been victims of violence themselves, the committee decided to host a community forum on the issue. The number one recommendation coming forward from the forum was the need for an RCMP Domestic Violence Unit. Subsequently, Kelowna Council approved the funding for one officer to take on this position about three years ago.
Since that time, three different officers have taken on the role. It’s a tough job and burn out is to be expected. Hundreds of case files are opened each year and some are ongoing for months. The backlog is enormous. It’s more than a one person job.
Economic times are tough but domestic violence rises under these conditions. It’s not the time to cut back services for women – in fact it is the time to increase them. Make sure that Kelowna City Council hears this message when they deliberate the budget in January.
November 25th is the International Day For the Elimination of Violence Towards Women. What can the City of Kelowna do to recognize this and move forward with solutions? It’s time to fund a second officer position for the RCMP Domestic Violence Unit. No excuses.
By Michele Rule
Councillor, City of Kelowna