Residents in Red Deer’s Riverside Meadows neighbourhood shared stories and concerns about their community with staff from the Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre during a barbecue on Tuesday evening.
The gathering was an information session and “community conversation” event for the centre’s Strengthen Social Capacity, Active Neighbourhoods, Focus on Community Engagement, Effect Positive Change (S.A.F.E.) Program, new this year.
The program is running in six neighbourhoods this summer and has already visited West Park, North Red Deer and the Mountview/Sunnybrook areas.
“It’s been going really well. We’ve heard what’s working well in the communities and what things they’d like to see changed,” said Erin Falk, the centre’s program development co-ordinator.
Staff have heard a lot of concerns over traffic and break-and-enters, Falk said, but “for the most part citizens are expressing they feel safe and happy with the green spaces that are tidy and whatnot.”
Anita McDonald came to the barbecue to voice her worry about what she sees out her windows.
She lives off of 60th Street, across from the old Valley Park Manor and is disgusted with the vandalism and mischief she sees going on there.
“It’s a beautiful building but there’s a big problem with kids breaking into it,” she said. “My neighbour’s car has been broken into at least five times this year already.”
There’s also a lot of graffiti and drug paraphernalia littering the area, she noted.
Sheila McNamee, who lives in the Fairview portion of the neighbourhood, said she supported the program and the new model of the neighbourhood watch with everyone keeping an eye out on nearby properties instead of one person.
“I love my neighbourhood and so far it’s been pretty crime free and I want to keep it that way so things like this are great,” McNamee said.
“When you know your neighbours, you feel safer and you look after each other so I hand out flyers and do what I can.”
After the barbecue, S.A.F.E. program staff will go over the information residents gave them as well as maps where residents can mark problems spots and write up a report, which is then passed onto the city and stakeholders such as the RCMP.
The reports are ready typically within a week, Falk said.
“We have a follow up date for Sept. 5 to touch base with stakeholders to see if they’ve been able to make any changes.”
On Thursday, a graffiti cleanup will also be taking place in Riverside Meadows, another part of S.A.F.E.
The program hits Deer Park next for a barbecue on Aug. 5 followed by the downtown core area.
Volunteers are still needed for the centre’s big downtown clean on Aug. 21. Anyone interested is asked to call 403-986-9904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.