Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • April 2020 • Circulation 5500

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Safer McCauley: Small Breakthroughs on Big Issues

Safer McCauley’s mandate is determined by the members of our community. Your direct input regarding safety-related priorities helps us work with partners like the Community League, Revitalization, and EPS to develop relevant community engagements and citizen-driven actions.

Some priorities identified by community members are less complex, such as addressing garbage, promoting positive street-level activities, increasing neighbourhood vigilance, and developing closer ties between neighbours and with police.

In recent months, responses to less complex issues have included three Litter Squad “Litter Blitzes,” three Dog Walkabouts, two Coffee with a Cop events, a back-alley party, an EPS Stand Up Parade, an EPS Crime Prevention Workshop, enhanced online “Who to Call” resources, and Community Conversations around problem properties and how to increase neighbourhood vibrancy.

But what about the more complex issues like problem properties and needle debris? These issues are harder to address, and they won’t be resolved as rapidly as we would like. But lately there have been some small, but notable, breakthroughs.

Problem properties have been identified as McCauley’s top priority. Their negative impacts are many (see Greg Lane’s summary of the situation in January’s Boyle McCauley News). Several recent house fires and the repeated appearance of the EPS Tactical Unit highlight the seriousness of the issue.

In May, a Safer McCauley Community Meeting hosted the Residential Living Governance Committee (RLGC) to speak about its work addressing problem properties. Many attendees were disappointed by the engagement and left with unanswered questions.

Among the disappointed was Councillor McKeen. He soon forwarded a motion to have the RLGC report to Council about the effectiveness of its work. That motion passed on July 9, but the report submitted in October lead to further disappointment. At an October 29 meeting of Council’s Urban Planning Committee, the report was called “vague, opaque, passive, and impossible to understand.” Efforts to address problem properties were called a “long time fail.” The RLGC was instructed to develop a more aggressive action plan by March 2020, in consultation with community and housing organizations.

With the pressure on, Administration sent front line City staff to consult with community members to better understand the impacts of problem properties and to inform the RLGC’s future work. And, on December 13, City management met with several community members to discuss how to integrate community input in strategies moving forward. We look forward to seeing where these consultations lead.

These small breakthroughs are overdue. They won’t yield immediately visible improvements, but they are unprecedented – and reasons for cautious optimism.

Needle debris is also top of mind in McCauley. After a door-to-door survey last summer, the issue ranked number two amongst identified safety-related concerns. In response, Safer McCauley convened representatives from fifteen organizations to discuss the improvement of needle clean up efforts.

This process has revealed that 1) several groups were already involved in clean-up efforts, unbeknownst to one another; 2) individually, some groups don’t always have the capacity to do the work, and; 3) there is enthusiasm for co-designing a more robust, coordinated response to the issue of needle debris. The City is now changing 311 operators’ scripts to include information about clean-up services offered by Boyle Street Ventures on private property. And a number of organizations are considering joining forces with The Mustard Seed to support its existing clean-up efforts.

These small breakthroughs are overdue. They won’t yield immediately visible improvements, but they are unprecedented – and reasons for cautious optimism. What’s more, they are testaments to the power of community input.

Thank you for taking an interest in the well-being of McCauley. Consider getting involved. Reach out to your neighbours. Follow Safer McCauley on Facebook to learn about events and engagements. And don’t hesitate to share your ideas with me directly.

Mark is REACH Edmonton’s McCauley Community Convener. He can be contacted at mark.davis@reachedmonton.ca.

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