Farewell to community safety coordinator Herb Sutton

After six years on the job, North Battleford’s Community Safety Coordinator Herb Sutton gave his final monitoring report at Tuesday’s council meeting.

Sutton is retiring, and Mayor Ryan Bater confirmed a letter had been sent to the city where Sutton indicated he would be departing at the end of the month.

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In his virtual appearance before council on the Zoom platform, Sutton thanked the city for their support.

“Truthfully, I had intended to only work for two or three years. It’s been six,” said a Sutton. “So it’s been very enjoyable. I have thoroughly enjoyed the work and appreciate the support that council has given.”

Mayor Bater paid tribute to Sutton.

“Several years ago, when the city was developing its community safety strategy, when the citizens of our city wanted a comprehensive strategy to address these issues, the challenge was to find the right person to actually strengthen that strategy, to develop relationships and then to start seeing these things through and to start to execute. And that person was you, and I think that’s one of the greatest decisions ever made was getting you in that role and I really appreciate your service over the last several years.”

Bater credited Sutton for his focus on data.

“It’s really important as a local government to focus on data, facts, research in order to develop strategies that actually can get results and to actually work.”

In his final report Sutton spoke on a few major initiatives. One he spent a good deal of time on was the Battlefords Regional Community Coalition.

He noted the leadership of the coalition has determined they have three major roles: advocacy, coordination and special projects. Sutton reiterated the major focus of the coalition had been to bring the four levels of government together — federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations.

To that end, he pointed to an Aug. 25 meeting of the leadership with federal Ministers and continues their work with the province. They plan to advance conversations after the election.

The coalition had also hosted a meeting with provincial and local RCMP and Sutton said the discussion there was “very productive.” Sutton also thanked the First Nations for their contributions to multi-year funding to the coalition, as well as the City of North Battleford and Town of Battleford for providing a financial commitment over the next three years.

Sutton made clear the coalition was the highlight of his tenure with the city.

“I’m very confident the coalition is the way forward to create the systemic change that we talked so much about,” Sutton said.

Sutton also reported on the North Battleford Community Safety Committee and he noted much of the work they had been involved in was paused due to COVID-19. Sutton and City Planner Ryan Mackrell have had preliminary discussions with Jennifer Niesink, the city’s director of planning and development, about the future of the committee and how it can pick up where it left off pre-COVID-19.

As for SAGE - Safety, Acceptance, Guidance, Empowerment - that organization was wound up officially at their last meeting Oct. 2, with the committee dissolved and with remaining funds transferred to the Battlefords Regional Community Coalition. SAGE was credited with coming up with the concept that led to formation of the coalition.

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