REGINA -- A new pilot program intends to utilize a variety of community resources to ensure safety for all in downtown Regina.

The Community Support Program is one-year pilot project which will involve partnership from the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District (RDBID), the City of Regina, and the Regina Police Service. A variety of service agencies will provide input on the program.

According to a news release the program “involves the development of a Downtown Regina Community Support Team to work with the public, businesses, and vulnerable community members, to resolve non-emergent safety and security issues in the downtown.”

Members of the community-based support team will be in contact with relevant community service agencies, which can assist in addressing challenges involving vulnerable people in downtown Regina.

Team members will be trained in de-escalation, mediation, mental health, first aid, trauma, and culturally and trauma-informed practices, overdose intervention such as use of naloxone and suicide prevention/intervention.

Regina police chief Evan Bray said the program is a “win-win” as it will help those in need while also freeing up police to deal with more emergent issues.

“Many of the calls that police are handling are calls that aren’t necessarily a police matter,” Chief Bray said. “They’re calls that can be assisted or more effectively dealt with by another group or another organization who’s step up, trained and connected to deal with it.”

The team is expected to work in pairs of two. They will work at least Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the city hopes to extend those days and hours if possible.

Team members will be employees of the RDBID.

“At its core, the Community Support Program is about putting people first – offering care, kindness and helping individuals find the services and supports they need,” said Mayor Sandra Masters. “This initiative will both assist people in our community and enhance our Regina Downtown experience.”

The program is modeled after a similar program which has been operating in Saskatoon since 2012.