New initiative aims to help 'at-risk' residents

An inititave designed to help those deemed 'at-risk' in Kelowna quickly get the help they need is underway. 

Kelowna RCMP Corporal Leslie Smith says Kelowna Outreach and Support Table - or KOaST - involves many social agencies from police and youth justice - to public health, housing and income assistance.

Smith says the idea is to immediately identify individuals who are at elevated risk "and once we've established that, the team comes together and finds out exactly what that indivdual needs - do they need housing, do they income assistance, do they need their drug and alcohol addiction counsellor - what does that individual need to move forward so that we can reach them before it gets to a crisis response siuation."

The initiative is funded by the City of Kelowna and the province.

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says "many of the issues that negatively impact community well-being and safety, such as chronic social issues, public health concerns and crime, require collaborative multi-agency responses and evidence-based, best-practice approaches like these help front-line workers anticipate when a coordinated effort can prevent significant harm to vulnerable people in a specific community.”   

Smith says KOaST - created in Saskatchewan in 2011 - has been adopted in cities across Canada including in Penticton, Surrey and Mission.