A resident of Tessier Place says a meeting between neighbours, city staff and police Friday was the first step in trying to clean up their troubled street in downtown St. John's.

nl-porter-michelle-20130322

Michelle Porter says she has been afraid to let her children play outdoors on Tessier Place. (CBC)

"Getting together as a neighbourhood, you know who these people are now, and you feel safer and you feel more connected," said Michelle Porter.

Drugs, crime and prostitution linked to one house on the street have been witnessed by residents for the past two years. Last week, a 47-year-old man was seriously beaten in the house and later died in hospital. Another man has been charged with second-degree murder in the death.

Porter, who has two children, said she had been worried about rising crime and drug use in the area. 

"My largest concern as a mother was finding the needles and not being able to let the children out to play," said Porter.

"Living next to that kind of criminal activity, you don't talk to other people sometimes, you become closed up," Porter continued. "So having this meeting opens things up."

Group met for several hours

About two dozen residents met with officials for about three and a half hours Friday morning to talk about how to clean up their neighbourhood and how to better work with the police.

"The more intelligence, the more information we have, the better we can respond to a situation," said Ab Singleton, the RNC's deputy chief of patrol operations.

nl-oleary-sheilagh-20130322

City councillor Sheilagh O'Leary says working together can lead to change. (CBC )

Coun. Sheilagh O'Leary agreed that the open conversation was a good start.

"We don't say 'oh we can't do anything about it,' because we can do something about it," said O'Leary. "And I think jointly, I think we can definitely make better neighbourhoods and make change happen." 

Porter said the group has been looking at how to push for changes to legislation to make landlords accountable for the people they take on as tenants. The group has also started organizing a larger public meeting to trigger a city-wide conversation about how to make neighbourhoods safer.

"We are hoping that through this murder that some good, or a lot of good will come of it," said Porter. "Not just in our neighbourhood, but in the neighbourhoods that are facing similar issues."