Community Safety Co-ordinator Herb Sutton presented his first report since the summer break to council on Sept. 24.
He reported on a number of initiatives that are either underway or happening this fall.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Review Committee
Sutton’s report began on a “downer,” as he put it. The Block Party initiative, designed to encourage people to know their neighbours, saw less formal participation this year.
Only five block parties had registered with the City, a decline from last year. But the number seemed low to Sutton.
“I don’t believe that that’s the actual number of block parties that have happened,” said Sutton. He believes more block parties happened and that a lot of them didn’t register.
The point Sutton wanted to make was that block parties remained a “cornerstone of the work that we’re doing.”
He cited their importance in building a sense of community, particularly at the neighbourhood level.
Community Perception Survey
Another major item for CPTED this fall will be conducting a Community Perception Survey.
It will measure the community’s perceptions of the safety initiatives undertaken. Sutton told council the data collected will provide a baseline of information for the CPTED committee.
“The measure we are looking at here is how the community safety initiatives that the City is involved in right now, how that’s impacting perceptions of safety, so that’s important work.”
Sutton confirmed that a researcher, Dr. Tarah Hodgkinson, is partnering on that project. She has just finished her PhD at the University of Victoria.
Hodgkinson will come to North Battleford Oct. 23-24 to train the students from North West College who will be conducting the survey, and then do follow-up with them on the administration of that survey. There is also talk that Hodgkinson will present to council around that time on the project and answer questions.
The students from North West College would be involved with the administration of the door-to-door surveys, which would also be distributed using the City website and social media. It is expected to launch in late November/early December, and between 700 to 800 surveys would need to be completed for the results to be considered accurate.
There are also plans for Dr. Hodgkinson to come back and do this a couple of more times. “She’s not interested in doing this once,” said Sutton. Mayor Ryan Bater was supportive of the survey as beneficial to their community safety strategy
“With any strategy you have to be able to measure the success, or at least the progress of it,” said Bater.
Battlefords Affordable Housing and Homelessness Initiative
Sutton said they are in the planning stages of hosting a housing workshop expected to happen in October. The purpose of that workshop would be awareness of housing issues and supports available for property managers and landlords, and even renters.
Citizens on Patrol
Sutton noted Citizens on Patrol is now more than 30 members. He also acknowledged the work of the Action Battlefords initiative through the Chamber of Commerce, whose efforts in promoting Citizens on Patrol has led to more recruiting.
“The more members that we have, the more patrols that we have, the more eyes we have on the street, the more information we collect, the more intelligence we give to the RCMP ... it all feeds together,” said Sutton.
Sutton reiterated the Safety Acceptance Guidance Empowerment Committee efforts towards coalition building among the four levels of government — municipal, provincial federal and First Nations.
They had expected to apply for $75,000 from Indigenous Services Canada for coalition funding, but word came back that they might get only $51,000, and would have to revise their proposal.
A revised proposal was put together and submitted and they are still waiting for confirmation of funding, said Sutton. An application would be made to the Brett Wilson Foundation for the other $24,000. Despite that, consultant Bonnie Evans and her team have continued to provide expertise as they await funding.
There are also plans to reconnect municipal and Indigenous leaders to continue work started at a June meeting hosted by Mayor Ryan Bater.
This coalition work is “probably the most important work” he was doing right now, Sutton said.
“This is the kind of long-term, strategic, sustainable model of work that will allow us to begin to collectively address the root cause issues that we are facing,” he added.
Mayor Bater agreed with Sutton and once again made clear his support for aligning the four levels of government in addressing root causes of crime.
“I think the work we are doing here needs to be a model, especially in western Canada, but across the country in general,” he said.