Sampson calls for Car 60 program expansion

Coun. Kyle Sampson is calling on city council to consider expanding the Prince George RCMP's Car 60 program.

The program, formally known as the Urgent Community Response Team, pairs plain-clothes RCMP officers in an unmarked police car with nurses trained in mental health and addictions. The team responds to calls involving mental health and substance abuse, and access the person to see if they can be be referred to local community resources.

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"The City of Prince George faces similar challenges with respect to mental health and addiction issues that many other municipalities face across Canada. Statistics show that there has been an increase of well over 100 (per cent) in calls associated with mental health over the past five years in Prince George," Sampson wrote in his notice of motion. 

The Car 60 program was launched in Prince George in April 2015 and was based on a similar initiative in Surrey. Sampson said the program has been a success, but more resources are needed.

"Hours of operation for the Car 60 program are limited by resources, including further access to mental health professionals from Northern Health," Sampson wrote. "The expansion of the program would ideally see additional staffing resources of mental health professionals partnered with PG RCMP members to provide greater coverage of service."

In his notice of motion, Sampson is asking city council to request city administration meet with RCMP and Northern Health to discuss the possibility of expanding the program, and return to city council with a report with recommendations and the cost of expanding the program.

In addition, Sampson asked council to call on the province and federal government to fund additional mental health services in the city.

"It is a strategic priority of council to enhance the quality of life for residents, which includes supporting programs that provide greater resources for varying types of public safety concerns, including mental health, addiction, and other social issues," he wrote. "It would be in the best interest of all residents that Council directs Administration to further develop the partnership between the City of Prince George, the RCMP, and Northern Health to expand on the already successful Car 60 Program."

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