Safe Consumption Conversation Attracts Large Group

McCauley Community Safety Meeting
A public conversation about Harm Reduction, Safe Consumption Services, and Needle Clean Up attracted 45 attendees to the Edmonton Intercultural Centre on May 15. The event was the twelfth in an ongoing series of McCauley Community Safety Meetings convened by REACH (Edmonton Council for Safe Communities) since August 2016. This meeting was co-facilitated by the McCauley Safety Council.

With each event, the meeting collective has expanded, becoming more inclusive and representative. Stakeholders represented on May 15 included Abundant Communities, BGCBigs, Chinatown BIA, E4C, EPS, the Highlands-Norwood MLA, McCauley Community League, McCauley Revitalization, The Mustard Seed, Neighbourhood Empowerment Team, Streetworks, Viva Italia, and the Ward 6 City Councillor. Fifty-one percent of attendees were McCauley residents. A panel invited to respond to stakeholders’ questions included representatives from Boyle McCauley Health Centre, Boyle Street Community Services, Capital City Clean Up, Inner City Health and Wellness, and Safe Consumption Services.

While little objection to Harm Reduction principles was expressed, concern was voiced about the “clustering” of services in or near McCauley. Less concern was expressed about Safe Consumption Services than about the interplay between organized crime, gangs, illicit drugs, and problem properties. The panel expressed a desire for ongoing dialogue to hear concerns and share updates and statistics. Boyle Street Community Services invited community members to tour its Safe Consumption Site. Overall, the atmosphere was positive and inclusive, allowing respectful and tolerant discussion. A connectedness between attendees was evident.

McCauley Safety Council
The meeting also incorporated an overview of the McCauley Safety Council. The Safety Council is a group of volunteers and agency representatives, supported by EPS, Bylaw Enforcement and REACH. The group supports projects such as Big Cleans, Pick It Up, and a syringe pick up partnership with The Mustard Seed. Its distribution of “Who to Call” postcards was recently completed. The Council is currently looking for a community member to lead its annual Lights on Campaign.

Santo’s/Running Horse Saloon
An update was provided on the Santo’s application to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission for a Minors Prohibited Liquor Licence. Twenty-six McCauley community members officially objected by writing letters to AGLC opposing the application. AGLC initially denied the application on April 9 “based on a lack of community support.” However, as requested by the applicant, a hearing took place on May 28 and 29, and AGLC reversed its ruling and granted the applicant’s licence on June 5. Objectors, including the Viva Italia District Association and the McCauley Community League, will be meeting to discuss how to move forward. Increased common purpose and connectivity are positive outcomes of the collective community action in response to this concern.

Objectors, including the Viva Italia District Association and the McCauley Community League, will be meeting to discuss how to move forward. Increased common purpose and connectivity are positive outcomes of the collective community action in response to this concern.

Moving Forward
The McCauley Safety Council and REACH will convene more information-sharing events. Watch for conversations around Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, Problem Properties, and a follow-up/report back from Safe Consumption Services.

The date of the next McCauley Community Safety Meeting will be announced soon. For further information, or to be added to the invite list, contact mark.davis@reachedmonton.ca.

The next Safety Council Meeting will take place on July 23, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Church rectory. For further information, contact elisa.zenari@gmail.com.

Collectively, residents, businesses, agencies and community groups make up a movement with the capacity to improve the quality of life of all members of the community. If you feel strongly about an issue in your community, start a conversation. And, always report your concerns. Resources cannot be allocated to a situation that goes unreported.

Elisa Zenari is the McCauley Safety Council Chair. Mark Davis is the REACH McCauley Community Coordinator.

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