Jasmine Crescent improvements earn volunteers an award

A volunteer group that's helped a troubled street in Ottawa was recognized Monday night by Crime Prevention Ottawa.

Vision Jasmine working on community pride along with safety

Elizabeth Jenner, left, and Nicole Li both say the Jasmine Crescent community has turned around dramatically. (Ryan Tumilty/CBC)

A volunteer group that's helped a troubled street in Ottawa was recognized Monday night by Crime Prevention Ottawa.

Vision Jasmine was a community group formed to try and get a handle on violence and crime around Jasmine Crescent in Gloucester, which saw three killings in less than a year between April 2015 and March 2016.

Elizabeth Jenner has lived in the neighbourhood for more than 30 years and said at the peak of crime in the community, it felt unsafe to be outside.   

"There was a lot of drug dealing. The police were always being called to houses for fights and taking people away," she said on CBC's All In A Day.

"Drugs were really affecting people's lives. They were scared to go out at night … It hadn't been like that when I first moved in."

Small changes

Nicole Li, co-chair of Vision Jasmine, said the community made small changes to get people out and to put eyes on the street, gradually shifting its focus away from being just about safety to include community pride.

It also wanted to give young people in the area something to do by setting up basketball nets, for example.

"It was a way to bring positivity back to the park," she said.

"The nets were falling apart, so we put some money in … Now the kids feel there is something for them in the community."

Jenner said she has noticed a real change and a sense of community building. 

She said people call police now when they see unusual or suspicious activity and police respond, along with having better patrols.

Li said police will now often come by and get into pickup basketball games with kids.

"It is about building a connection with the community that isn't just responding in your patrol car to things."

In April 2017, more than a hundred marchers came out in support of Jasmine Crescent residents who've been working to keep violent crime out of their neighbourhood. (Idil Mussa/CBC News)

Other Community Safety Awards handed out Monday included:

  • Innovation Award: Dr.  J. Paul Fedoroff with the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, who runs a program that treats sex offenders and has prevented them from reoffending, or offending in the first place.
  • Volunteer Program Award: Émond Neighbourhood Watch has set up patrols, but also refurbished public spaces and significantly reduced crime in what was formerly a problem area. 
  • Police Professional Award: Const. Lila Shibley Ottawa's first female Muslim police officer. She helps organize the Catholic Centre for Immigrants' Youth Soccer League, which provides newcomers to Canada with a chance to play.  
  • Business Award: Landlord CLV Group works with police to make apartment complexes safe.
  • Volunteer Award: Sheila Perry, whose projects included creating a large mural at the Overbrook Community Centre and working to turn the closed Rideau High School into a community hub. 
  • Police Professional Award: Const. DeWayne Knight, who talks to young people about careers in policing and works to create a more positive impression of police. A former CFL player, he also coaches minor football. 
  • Leadership Award: Matt Schaaf, leads the I Can MANifest Change program through the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women. The program works with men to show them the role they play in gender-based violence and aims to create a healthier type of masculinity.