Creating safe spaces through environmental design

November 6, 2020

What does safety feel like? It’s the sense of calm experienced strolling through a well-maintained park, or the discomfort of walking down a poorly lighted street. Our sense of safety is connected to the environment around us.

A team of City of Kelowna staff, trained in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), routinely conducts audits and reviews locations of City projects, parks, neighbourhoods and new supported housing developments.

For example, consider these two neighbourhoods.

Neighbourhood 1 is well lighted, has clear signage, sidewalks, bike lanes and the landscape is well maintained. Neighbourhood 2 has lots of hidden spaces, dark alleys, overgrown trees, graffiti on light poles, no bike paths or sidewalks.

“Neighbourhood 2, sounds pretty inviting – if you’re someone looking to commit crime without being seen,” said Colleen Cornock, Crime Prevention Supervisor for the City of Kelowna. “When we apply CPTED principles, we are looking at what modifications could be made to reduce opportunities for crime.”

Landscaping, lighting, signage to amenities and services and how people move in the space are all considered to create opportunities to build a welcoming sense of community that attracts activity.

For some new developments, including new housing with supports projects, Cornock and her team apply the CPTED principles in the development phase, before construction begins.

For two recently constructed housing with support buildings, Samuel Place and Stephen Village, this meant increasing the amount of lighting, to ensure high visibility of the outdoor areas.

Last week, 22 staff from a variety of departments in the City and RCMP, including Crime Prevention, Bylaw, Active Living and Culture, Civic Operations, Parks Planning and the RCMP Community Safety Unit participated in facilitated CPTED training to increase the use of CPTED principles in their work, and further improve community safety and well-being. Rethink Urban delivered the full spectrum workshop with an environmental design expert with international experience leading the training.

City Council has established priorities that include reducing crime and ensuring residents feel safe. This training will create a cross-organizational CPTED Team that will triple the City’s capacity to provide CPTED audits in troubled areas and support the development and application of CPTED expertise in early planning.

Learn more about crime prevention and at-home CPTED advice at > crime prevention