Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • August-September 2022 • Circulation 5000

Reclaiming Our Back Alleys

From property crime magnets to vibrant public spaces.

Your back alley might be narrow, but its possibilities for transformation are deep and wide. This is what representatives of Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) suggested at a virtual information session on crime prevention held on February 16th.

NET is a crime prevention network run by the City of Edmonton, EPS, Family Centre, and the United Way of Alberta. Its February 18th session focused on back alleys behind single family homes.

“We need to transform our alleys. We need to think of alleys differently,” said Courage Fon, NET Community Liaison. “That’s where placemaking comes in.”

From glow-in-the-dark planters to back alley block parties, there are many ways to animate the often neglected spaces behind our inner city homes and garages. It’s all part of crime prevention through environmental design, workshop participants heard.

In addition to regular maintenance, such as trimming shrubbery to maintain clear sightlines, residents can experiment with ways to use alleys differently.

“Take care of your alley the same way you take care of your front yard,” Fon said.
Creative lighting, gardening, and garage door art are some of the methods that signal to would-be offenders that an alley is cared for and monitored.

Beyond beautification, the benefit of this approach encourages more foot traffic and fosters relationships between neighbours.

“We need to reclaim our back alleys as public spaces,” Fon said.

Property Safety Tips:

  • Trim hedges and shrubs along alleys for clear sightlines.
  • Report burnt out street lights by calling 311.
  • Ensure all loose items are stored indoors overnight.
  • Empty the mailbox every evening and double check all home and vehicle locks.
  • Never store spare keys in a vehicle.
  • Install high-quality locks on garage doors.
  • Use hedges or low-level fencing to indicate the boundary between public and private space.
  • Ensure all front access points are well lit and can be seen from the street.

For more information on how to keep your home, garage, and yard safe, visit

Joelle lives in Boyle Street.

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