Community is a cornerstone motivation behind everything I do. It is also one of the distinctive draws for living in the suburbs of Ward 12 — the enhanced sense of community and the corresponding sense of safety and security. We all want to feel connected and surrounded by a community that is actively looking out for us, our loved ones, and our employees and co-workers.
When this sense of safety and security is violated by a home invasion, traffic incident, prowling, fire, or any other type of safety issue in our neighbourhood, it can easily shatter our confidence. Building that trust back can take months if not years and unfortunately it can forever change how we think about our neighbours and neighbourhood when unaddressed.
Protecting our sense of community and our collective safety is of utmost importance and will be an ever-present priority for me, as your Councillor. This issue is multifaceted and deserves a multifaceted approach. Nearly 25% of every tax dollar goes to Bylaw & Public Safety and 14.36% for our Police Service. Proper funding for enforcement is extremely important but it cannot provide community safety on its own.
Evan Knows - A Four-Step Action Plan to Community Safety in Ward12:
Community Safety Action #1: Local Safety Initiatives
In law enforcement, there is a well-known set of guidelines called the Peelian Principles and #7 states that “...the police are the public and that the public are the police.” Working together for the sake of our collective safety is a very attainable goal for the neighbourhoods of Ward 12. This isn’t about going out on patrols but rather getting to know the people around you, your neighbours, and purposefully looking out for each other, your block, and your shared spaces/places.
Block Organizing is the most granular way to prepare the residents of Ward 12 and the City to work together. There are immediate benefits to knowing the names and stories of the people around you and opening up lines of communication. A block that has a contact list or interacts on a digital platform is able to respond to needs, give tips, and get to know each other better.
When a block is connected, one of the biggest benefits is safety. Studies have shown that one of the best determinants for our local safety is how many neighbours on our block we know by name. I will be advocating for a project similar to this neighbour connecting project to be adopted here in Calgary. There are SO many benefits to growing the social fabric (relationships between neighbours) here in Ward 12 and The City and community safety is one of the main areas that stands to benefit.
Community Safety Action #2: Technology
Our resources are limited right now in Calgary and the Calgary Police Service (CPS) is stretched thin. Getting our resources to the places they need to be is of utmost importance. The emergence of new, intuitive, and smart technology is allowing us to leverage data to get more done with less across sectors both public and private, and enforcement is no different.
There are SO many different ways to communicate and organize between neighbours and public servants, digitally. Here in Ward 12 there are some WhatsUp threads for different neighbourhoods for CPS to share tips and updates. Most residents wouldn’t know these even exist. There are attempts to share this information on platforms like Facebook but the efforts are disjointed, far from integrated, and usually one-way communication.
Reporting is currently largely relegated to the non-emergency line which can leave you on hold forever and actively deters the residents of Ward 12 from participating in communicating with CPS. The current digital app from CPS simply directs you to the phone line and has limited options to collaborate with them so they can share the best data with their officers.
The City needs to explore using better technology to empower Calgarians and provide the best data for our enforcement efforts. An integrated digital tool would improve the data and directly impact the ability of CPS to allocate their time and resources where they are most needed.
Community Safety Action #3: Green Line
There is considerable concern about what will happen to the sleepy suburban feel of the Ward 12 communities once the Green Line makes it past 130th and on to Seton. This is brought up frequently by residents, when I have been out door knocking.
There has also been considerable concern about the safety of our LRT system, especially through the pandemic, and it is time to start talking about design and moving towards more of a closed system (turnstiles, gates) that cut down on people using it when they are loitering and not using it for its intended purposes. This would cut down considerably on the amount of nuisance crime and the uneasy feeling that pervades people’s commutes on the LRT, especially in the late evenings. Giving full and equitable access to the system still needs to be a priority but there is room in a closed system to accomplish this through low-income transit passes that can be revoked with certain types of behaviour.
It is also important to note that the way we envision building an LRT has changed. This is a city-shaping project that will be prioritizing community integration. I would encourage you to check out a station plan like South Hill and review the concept plan to see how the station will be mixed in with the surrounding development that includes residences and businesses. The days of getting off of a train surrounded by poorly lit parking lots are behind us.
While there is a general uptick in nuisance crime, as public transit access increases in a neighbourhood, we need to recognize that much of this is already here in the form of car prowling and other crimes of opportunity. The more targeted activity, aimed at vehicles, is ultimately what supports break and enters and is generally more traumatic.
Community Safety Action #4: Smart City Planning & Bylaws
Spaces are not neutral. We design the places we live and then they shape us. One of the ways we can address safety issues in our Ward 12 neighbourhoods is Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). This takes into consideration the lighting, sightlines, and many other factors. When combined with smart bylaws, we can deter all sorts of crime by preemptively addressing potential issues and keeping our public spaces full of people and the vibrancy that keeps crime at bay.
It may seem counterintuitive but if there is a problem area in one of our neighbourhoods that seems to attract crime and unsavoury behaviour, the better solution is to enter that space vs. lock it down. A great example of this is the Fremont Troll in Seattle. The neighbourhood was having issues with a particular bridge attracting crime so they rallied together and came up with the idea of turning the spot into an art project. Now it is a tourist attraction and draws people into the neighbourhood and brings benefits to the surrounding local businesses. This is vibrancy, dealing with the negative impacts of the criminal activity through designing the neighbourhood differently.
We can also institute bylaws that target crime waves impacting our neighbourhoods and city. Liquor store robberies have become increasingly prevalent. There are pilot projects now that have shown a huge decrease in criminal activity by simply requiring people to provide their ID when entering vs. when checking out. I commit to keeping an open mind and listening to our residents and local business community as we seek to keep Ward 12 safe. I will be a conduit for the best ideas that surface and fight to see them implemented in pilot projects across our Ward.