Safer McCauley: Actions and Activities
From Prioritization to Action
In 2018, Safer McCauley began surveying community members to identify and prioritize our collective safety-related concerns. This process would help determine how to focus efforts to create a safer and more vibrant community for all.
Surveys took place at community meetings, online, and door-to-door. Local service agencies were invited to meetings and encouraged to extend invitations to the often-marginalized members of our community. Meetings saw residents and service agencies engaging in constructive conversation. Several service agencies expressed gratitude for being invited to community meetings for the first time. A number of them shared the surveys with their community members, whose input was added to the overall findings.
This community input revealed these top priorities: 1) concentration of poverty; 2) problem properties; 3) needle debris; 4) garbage; and 5) a desire to increase vibrancy and connectivity. Diverse community members soon came together to brainstorm ideas to promote safety through vibrancy and connectivity. Activities like the McCauley Dog Walkabout and McCauley Litter Blitzes were launched.
A schedule of activities and community meetings for 2020 was developed – and abruptly halted by COVID-19. The silver lining is that community partners have accelerated collaboration to address more complex issues like problem properties, needle debris, and garbage. In a short time, significant progress has been made and many new resources have been deployed.
A May 2019 Safer McCauley Community Conversation ignited a series of events leading to reform of the City’s approach to problem properties. The Residential Living Governance Committee became the Problem Property Initiative (PPI). The PPI consulted with a community advisory committee for guidance. New Municipal Enforcement (Bylaw) Officer positions were created to focus on the most chronic offenders. A confidential online reporting form was created. Several notorious problem properties have shut down. And, projects have emerged to transform problem properties into more positive entities. Considerable thought has been given to balancing the interests of the community with the interests of individuals displaced by the closure of problem properties.
To report a problem property confidentially, search “problem properties of Edmonton” or go to: https://www.edmonton.ca/residential_neighbourhoods/report-a-problem-property.aspx. To report concerns about property standards not related to a problem property, call 311. Remember to request a file number and a call back from the Municipal Enforcement Officer for McCauley.
The extensive list of organizations collaborating to address garbage in McCauley requires acknowledgement: BSV, CCCU, the Chinatown BIA, E4C, McCauley Community League, McCauley Revitalization, Mustard SeedWorks, Safer McCauley, and volunteer community members all play a role.
In November 2019, REACH Edmonton gathered 16 organizations to discuss a more coordinated response to stray needles. Increased connectivity and communication has yielded much progress. Boyle Street Ventures (BSV) announced its willingness to clean up needles on public and private property. Capital City Clean Up (CCCU) coordinated an update of the City’s 311 script to refer private property concerns to BSV. Funding from CCCU supports Downtown Proud to do sweeps of McCauley alleys twice a week. A partnership between Mustard SeedWorks, Chinatown BIA, McCauley Revitalization, and CCCU provides regular clean up of needles and litter. And REACH, the City, and service agencies are working on a process to consolidate needle collection data.
To report stray needles on public property, call 311. To request free clean up of needles on private and/or public property, call Boyle Street Ventures at 780-426-0500.
Garbage and Litter
The extensive list of organizations collaborating to address garbage in McCauley requires acknowledgement: BSV, CCCU, the Chinatown BIA, E4C, McCauley Community League, McCauley Revitalization, Mustard SeedWorks, Safer McCauley, and volunteer community members all play a role. Litter Kits have been distributed. Community-wide clean-ups have taken place. Partnerships with social enterprises have expanded. Households and businesses can request free removal of illegally dumped large items. Pressure-washing services are available in the Chinatown BIA. McCauley is visibly better off. Efforts are being tracked closely, and a clear picture of the extra resources it takes to keep McCauley as clean is emerging.
To arrange for the removal of large items illegally dumped on your property, please contact McCauley Revitalization Coordinator, Greg Brandenbarg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
_Mark is REACH Edmonton’s Neighbourhoods Convener. He can be contacted at email@example.com