Edmonton city council votes to implement task force recommendations on police

Edmonton city council voted unanimously in favour of having city administration work with police to review and develop a strategy for implementing recommendations from the Community Safety and Well-Being Task Force.

The task force was originally assembled after a public hearing where 142 Edmontonians shared their views on racism and policing in the city.

“We are not exaggerating, we are fearful for our safety when people who are supposed to protect us arrive to where we are,” said Laila Bellony, a member of the task force.

Their report included 14 recommendations that the task force calls “common sense and doable actions” they wish to be implemented.

“It’s not a menu to pick and choose, every recommendation should be carried forward,” said Rob Houle, another member of the task force. “They are nuanced so that they are different from what is currently being done.”

The recommendations are aimed at changing the way Edmontonians interact with law enforcement and social agencies.

They include changing the composition of the police commission to better reflect the community, increasing transparency and examining ways of preventing unnecessary use of force.

“Some of these are either underway or can be rapidly implemented,” Mayor Don Iveson, said. “I really appreciate the city manager’s commitment to look at what we can do within 90 days.”

The task force also recommended a freeze to police funding, increases are currently included in city budgets using an established formula.

“That funding formula was an attempt to essentially de-politicize the conversation around police funding,” said Ward 9 Coun., Tim Cartmell.

Council voted 8-5 in favour of having city administration gather further data on the recommendation that funding be brought in line with comparable cities and a portion be tied to specific performance.

The task force report stated that “Edmonton spends more per person on policing than many comparable cities in Canada.”

That report from city administration is expected in the first quarter of 2022.

“I think fair questions were raised about what, in my opinion, should be a community safety and well-being funding formula that should account for the needs and opportunities on prevention as well as predictability and safety on the front lines,” said Iveson.

A report is expected in three months on the progress of the recommendations.

“That’s also going to give the community time to come and speak to this report and the work that the city is undertaking to put the key recommendations in action,” said Iveson.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson