Meandering around downtown, but viewing it through a different lens offered perspective on how design concepts can also be an approach to crime prevention.
Steve Woolrich, owner SeCure consulting solutions — a crime prevention and security consulting firm, lead a Jane’s Walk through downtown Red Deer Saturday.
Jane’s Walk is a global movement of free local walking tours, inspired by Jane Jacobs. Jacobs was a Toronto based journalist and urban planning theorist who argued for livable cities.
Woolrich was one of the people who helped bring Jane’s Walk to Red Deer and has been leading the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design walk since the start.
On the walk he highlights some basic principles of CPTED and points out where it is in use in the downtown and where some improvement could make a difference.
Businesses that have store fronts that come right up to the sidewalk make a difference. Woolrich pointed out that the creation of alcoves or nooks can lead to needle debris or urine and create little areas to hide in.
Another highlighted feature was the use of windows. The transparency they provide can help reduce crime by facilitating more witnesses — allowing more people to see.
However, Woolrich noted some windows that are tinted and only allow for one way view, which affects the ability to create witnesses.
The same goes for the promotion of arts and culture. Referencing the Ross Street Patio, Woolrich said by bringing arts and culture to the city’s core it also brings more people. The positive activity can displace potential crime.
This year is the fifth time Red Deer has been involved in Jane’s Walks. On average there are about five to seven walks organized in the city, with eight happening this year.
“The idea is to get people out, exploring their neighbourhoods and having walking conversations about the places they live and work,” said Lauren Maris, Red Deer environmental program specialist.
“Jacob’s vision was for walkable neighbourhoods with cities planned for and by people and how people use their cities rather than theoretical ideas of how to build cities based on models.”
Other walks this year include one exploring green roofs, a Jane’s bike ride highlighting Red Deer’s trails and parks, First Friday, bronze ghost walking tour downtown, reflections of the past, restoring an ecosystem and Calgary-Edmonton railway corridor as the economic centre of Red Deer.
“The goal of the city’s environmental master plan is to build vital, well-connected, integrated, walkable communities that are environmentally responsible,” said Maris. “When we do Jane’s Walks that helps us highlight what works and what doesn’t in our city.
“A couple of years ago someone lead a ‘where did all the sidewalks go?’ walk, talking about how sometimes in Red Deer it’s not all that pedestrian friendly.”