The Community Support Program is a group of civilian officers (five officers and one supervisor) who do year-round foot patrol in the three Business Improvement Districts (BIDs); including Downtown, Riversdale, and Broadway in the center of Saskatoon. Our main role is to address negative street activity and work with service providers to address individual issues such as homelessness, addictions, and mental health issues. We play a key role in the collaborative partnership working toward preventing unnecessary use of emergency services, thereby freeing up police and medical responders. We work closely with organizations, shelters, and other resources in Saskatoon to advocate for vulnerable community members.
We have been appointed by the City of Saskatoon as bylaw enforcement officers for infractions relating to panhandling, parks, skateboarding, jaywalking, public spitting, urination, and defecation, littering, and bicycles. This program started in July 2012 as a two-year pilot project and in September 2015 evolved into a permanent program. Saskatoon City Council has set up the Street Activity Steering Committee to oversee the program. The committee includes representatives from the three BIDs, the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition, the Saskatoon Police Service, and a City of Saskatoon neighborhood safety planner. The program works closely with a group of local service providers.
- provide additional uniform presence and improve the perception of safety in Saskatoon;
- interact with the community and develop positive relationships with citizens and businesses in the patrol areas;
- interact and build trusting relationships with persons who cause negative street activity and try to assist in addressing the issues faced by these persons;
- work with service providers to provide supports to people in need and address the root causes of negative street activity (e.g., addictions, homelessness, health, mental health, etc.);
- identify gaps in services; and
- work on strategies to assist persons in need, thereby reducing police calls for nuisance and non-crime-related issues.
The initial response from the community has been very positive, with your support and the support of City Council we are able to provide a permanent presence in the City Centre. The Community Support Program deals with calls regarding non-criminal issues, diverting those calls away from the police. Our program reports every second month to the Street Activity Steering Committee on the outcomes we see month-to-month; those reports can be accessed on the City of Saskatoon’s website.
Following the approval to grant the program permanent status the funding for the Community Support Program continues to be drawn from parking meter revenue from the three BIDs in the amount of $450,000 per year.