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City Council Approves Transit Safety Plan

City Council Approves Transit Safety Plan

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City Council has approved the Transit Safety Plan including a three-year pilot program to expand the Community Outreach Transit Team (COTT). This plan builds upon the previous work and foundational investments made in 2018 and will help further ensure a safe experience for transit riders and users of the downtown pedway system. The recommendations in the plan will also help vulnerable people in our community receive the support they need.
“We all deserve to feel safe on transit, and today we took a good step forward in ensuring this becomes a reality,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “As we look to welcome back even more riders as public health orders are lifted, a plan that addresses safety is critical for economic recovery, downtown reactivation and community safety and well-being.”
The plan outlines several initiatives that see increased coordination and integration between the main partners, and increased social support provided by the Community Outreach Transit Team. The COTT program began in September 2021 in partnership with Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society with the aim of building relationships and connecting individuals to specialized community services, such as housing, mental health care, substance use resources and financial assistance.
“We are listening, learning and adapting,” said Andre Corbould, City Manager. “We know we can do more and we have a plan to do that. Together, with our colleagues at Bent Arrow and Edmonton Police Service, we are focused on increasing safety for everyone in the transit system.”
Coordinated and integrated approach
The City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Police Service and Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society will establish a leadership committee focusing on coordinated crime prevention strategies and targeted responses to criminal activity. The committee will implement a joint safety operations team under a unified, shared command and dispatch system that includes police officers, City peace officers, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society outreach workers and Fire Rescue Services.
Increased social support 
The approved funding of $3.9 million will be used over the pilot’s duration to expand COTT by adding additional staff and increasing the presence of the team on transit. We will also be working with Alberta Health Services to ensure people have access to services beyond the scope of COTT, such as health care, addictions treatment, psychiatric services and other specialized care. Throughout the three-year pilot period, the City of Edmonton will gather feedback from diverse Edmontonians and organizations and continue to make improvements.
“We are seeing benefits that the COTT program works,” said Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, Branch Manager, Edmonton Transit Service. “Since the launch in October, we are pleased that disorder rates dropped following that implementation, despite more people staying indoors due to colder weather in these months.”

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