One morning earlier this year, residents living near A. Lorne Cassidy school in Crossing Bridge woke up to find broken beer bottles and garbage all over the school’s playground.
The residents had a powerful response: they grabbed work gloves and garbage bags, and cleaned up the mess.
They didn’t wait for city staff to clean it up, they didn’t point fingers and complain about it on Facebook. They cleaned it up themselves, and in doing so sent a message to whoever caused the damage in the first place: we care about our community.
I keep hearing that residents are concerned with safety in Stittsville. There have been a number of bad vandalism incidents in the past few months. Shad Qadri says it was one of the top issues he heard about when campaigning last fall.
So I was disappointed to see that only three residents (plus our StittsvilleCentral.ca reporter) attended a community safety meeting hosted by Councillor Qadri on Wednesday. He deserves applause for trying to start a dialogue on community safety concerns, but I wouldn’t fault him for getting frustrated at the lack of involvement from the community.
Victor McNabney, a volunteer from Neighbourhood Watch, told the small crowd that Stittsville has two neighbourhood watches, down from eight less than a decade ago.
That echoes my experience working with the Fairwinds Community Association to get a Neighbourhood Watch going in our neighbourhood. An example: One of our neighbours went door-to-door on her street last winter to ask residents to help start a Watch program. Only one responded.
Folks are quick to point fingers and offer up all kinds of blame on Facebook, but when it comes down to working constructively on the issue, the participation evaporates.
The police don’t have the capacity to respond to every small crime in our community, nor is it the best use of their resources.
The only long-term solution is prevention, and a great way to start is to do just what those residents in Crossing Bridge did: Role up your sleeves and get involved.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Why are participation levels dropping of for Neighbourhood Watch programs? Why was attendance so low at the community meeting? What constructive ideas do you have for tackling community crime? Add a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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