Recently, I’ve been the subject of a vicious letter written by Todd Janes, the McCauley Revitalization Steering Committee Chair. I write this to defend my fellow board members and past presidents, who have been unfairly targeted by the contents of this letter. Seemingly, this unprovoked and nasty attack (for lack of a better word) stems from a letter that our board released back in Summer 2013 when the horrific murder/machete attack took place in McCauley. In Todd’s letter, he accuses me of wanting to see seniors freeze to death. I am of course extremely distressed by this accusation, and by the fact that it was printed and posted online. Volunteers deserve to be treated better.
The focus of the letter and subsequent interviews in the summer of 2013 was asking the EPS to be active partners in adequately policing the disorder in the neighbourhood that peaks during summertime, in engaging in the deconcentration of poverty within McCauley and in the creation of city-wide supports and services that will enable individuals to receive services within their original neighbourhood of residence. It was and remains my opinion that this type of approach gives people choice about where they live and what kinds of services they can access, and it gives neighbourhoods with little to no support services the opportunity to look for ways to find how they might enhance availability in their own neighbourhood(s). We believe this long term approach will ultimately make for a safer and more sustainable McCauley.
Indeed, this is a huge challenge of the status quo – the notion that things are not all well, that poor people come from all over the city, that it doesn’t make sense to sacrifice a few neighbourhoods, that the downtown core and its surrounding distressed communities will die if something isn’t done, that organizations aiming to do positive things (including shelters and soup kitchens) can have some negative impacts that go alongside the work they do for their clients. In addition to this is my own deep anxiety about what will happen in McCauley when we lose the downtown police station and associated officer presence when all main police station services are relocated to the Edmonton Remand Centre in 2017*.
I’m shocked and disappointed that we’ve stopped talking about the issues. We all joined the MCL board of directors to make a difference, meet some neighbours, and improve the neighbourhood. My own membership and subsequent volunteerism resulted when someone tried to break into Ruby’s bedroom at 3 a.m. when she was a toddler. After completing a police report and submitting it, the message from the police officer was akin to, “well, what do you expect?” Many of my neighbours have similar stories, both from the recent past and present.
For the record: no one on our Board wishes harm to anyone. Taking a single snippet of a media interview and making such accusations is manipulative and malicious. We would all give anything for Edmontonians to have warm and safe housing. It is my sincere hope that Todd Janes and other representatives of the Community Revitalization do not engage in such hostile communications in the future. It is our sincere hope that this newspaper encourages neighbours to work their differences out in person, rather than running such harmful and divisive “letters” that serve little identifiable purpose.