We deserve safe communities
Tom Shaw and Safe Communities
As a Project Manager building and maintaining health care facilities, having a background in Urban Planning, and as a leader in our community, safe environments and crime prevention have always been pivotal in many aspects of what I do.
I’m not going to tell you that I’m going to eliminate crime from the city, but I am going to be a leader in providing solutions with our Police service, community leaders, each one of us, leagues, churches, agencies and schools to continually educate and promote crime reduction techniques.
I constantly do this in my career and within my community, and I’ll strive to expand on this success within our Ward and City. I’ve built collaborative relationships with every level of government, so I’ll continue with this success to create partnerships for what each of our communities need.
While I acknowledge that on a city-wide scale there is a need to aid our EPS in lessening their load and having social based services integrated further, but within Ward Karhiio, we’re dealing with pan handling in dangerous situations, fears in uncomfortable interactions, petty crimes and theft, vandalism, and other crimes that frustrate and reduce the pride we all have in our neighbourhoods. These may sound like minor infractions and nuisance complaints, but these are all crimes that can escalate so we do need continued crime reduction efforts and police presence.
We need to fund community specific initiatives, promote educational tools, increase police presence, and make it easier for community leaders to help expand outreach and place making.
Public education and knowledge are certainly key, but it’s also in the community-based policing engagement piece in promoting neighbourly relations, and consistency in reporting and messaging.
Services, programs, and working together
There seems to be a culture of re-inventing the wheel or duplicating program services within the city, whereas we could promote and invest in existing and well-developed services to increase their outreach. We can also grow collaborative partnerships with Provincial entities such as Addictions and Mental Health, Social Services, Justice & Solicitor General, and Education; all to provide an efficient, compassionate and successful unified approach.
We as residents have a huge role to play in this. It is not simply about enforcement by Police, Bylaw, or Peace Officers, but in our own actions and resolve.
Defunding Police was a terrible way to express the ideas being thought out, and I would imagine whomever came up with the slogan is no longer in marketing. We should not be removing members, but rather supporting the fine work our forces do and compliment their efforts with increased and evolving internal training and promote programming of existing initiatives. PACT (Police and Crisis Response Team), HELP (Human-centred Engagement and Liaison Partnership Unit), Access 24/7 are all existing agencies that have been built and tried, let’s support these efforts.
We can increase collaboration with Addictions and Mental Health and the Judiciary and advance their public communications and education strategies, bring back early intervention in schools, and reduce work loads in partnership with Peace Officers.
Enforcement is however a major key to ensuring confidence in the resolve we create, and in making any of our initiatives viable. We need to step up as individuals and as communities to ensure the crimes of opportunity are eliminated, and have the backing of our institutions. We need to give EPS the resources to succeed which are in their access, their abilities to engage communities and know residents, and in their presence and early intervention. This again only takes increases to existing programs:
- NET (Neighbourhood Empowerment Team)
- School Resource Officers
- D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education program)
- Community Engagement Units
- Promotion of community reporting
Together, we can reduce frequencies and the presence of undesirable elements with promotion of community-based programs, building further pride, ownership, and safety.
Each of us can gain the tools through engagement with Abundant Community teams, our community leagues and associations, our community leaders, and with EPS. We can strengthen our relationships with our own neighbours through collaborative efforts; raising awareness of changes throughout our community, and together evaluate and act on recurring situations.
Traffic and our neighbourhood design
Through engagement with my community, I have continually advocated for traffic safety in our communities. I’ve lead initiatives with Vision Zero to evaluate neighbourhood hot spots like crosswalks and intersections and successfully implement positive change.
40 Km zones have proven to reduce incidents, but as I continually say about any initiatives brought forth, its in the implementation. Remember the 30km zone fiasco where weeks after the signs went up, thousands of dollars were spent in removing redundant or misplaced signs?
Generally, throughout our neighbourhoods on roads like Shaw Way or Knottwood Road, a lot of us subconsciously drive 40km, so what really is the purpose in spending hundreds of thousand of dollars on signage, campaigns, etc. if it’s going to be implemented poorly like in the past, or without monitoring or even enforcement? EPS and traffic control presence is always the best deterrent, but a simple reminder with speed identifications signs can go a long way in controls.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) initiatives are vital. This is not just cameras and security equipment, this is about promoting philosophies for community well being, bringing people together, place making, environmental controls such as lighting and sight lines, in the landscape design, plus much more. We need to integrate this into our development and our daily lives, and it start with Bylaws and City Planning.
We need to end blanket policies that continually fail us and are not the answer.
In our neighbourhoods we should not have to fight for stops signs, increase visibility in crosswalks or proper lighting. This should be in place at the inset, but since it is not, I’ll continue to provide meaningful engagement to our community to ensure our voice is heard and acted upon.
People focus for inclusive and communities
When it comes to diversity, race, different cultures, and gender; training, educations, and acknowledgement are key. Challenges in acceptance and understanding are generational, either through pain of the past, conflicts, lack of education, plain ignorance, or unhealthy ways of expression or attention seeking.
It’s beyond colour, race, religion, and gender. If we focus on one group to the exclusion of others then we have accomplished nothing. The strength of our community is in being inclusive. We can promote not just diversity, but simply bringing all people together. Speak of fears or misunderstanding and have open, non-judgemental, participatory conversations to bring neighbours of all strengths and voices together in safe, accessible places. We need to engage in these safe places with people who have not only visible differences such as physical challenges, or ageism, but with lesser visible such as those with mental health challenges; all to shape safe communities.
It is in the commonality of our needs such as housing, healthy foods, friendships, acceptance, and opportunity in business and education that bind us together as a community.
My parents planted our roots in this diverse neighbourhood, my family couldn’t think of being anywhere else, and as we further develop our generational home, I am sure my children will as well.
We in Ward Karhiio are leaders, we celebrate and promote our differences, and we provide outreach to help bring all of us together. I will continue to promote what makes our Ward so unique.
Let's talk about how we can do this.