Saskatoon

Neighbourhood associations relay safety concerns to Saskatoon police commissioners

Commissioners say hearing from community associations is critical, as it helps them establish where to focus police resources.

Absentee landlords, pedestrian tunnels, dismissive dispatches all raised as concerns

A pile of garbage in the Mount Royal neighbourhood. Officials with the Mount Royal Community Association say three pedestrian tunnels in the community are fuelling crime. (Supplied/Mount Royal Community Association)

Members of Saskatoon's Mount Royal Community Association are calling for pedestrian tunnels in the neighbourhood to be locked overnight, saying they attract crime.

The idea was part of presentations on community safety made at the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners on Thursday evening. Jan More, the police liaison with the Mount Royal Community Association said the tunnels are at the root of the troubles, which includes drug activity, squatting and vandalism.

"Lock them open in the morning and lock them closed at night," she said.

The three tunnels are located at 31st Street, 29th Street and at Rusholme Road in an area known as the Barrier Strip. More said the cost locking them would "pale in comparison" to the cost of having police constantly respond to area.

A meeting of the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners on Aug. 22, 2019. At the meeting, Mayor Charlie Clark put forward a motion to seek support from the federal and provincial government for additional police resources around Saskatoon's safe consumption site. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC)

"There's traffic like 24-7," she said. 

She also raised concerns about motorists in the alleyways of Vancouver Avenue, as residents have reported drivers speeding in the area, which More said is scattered with right degree turns and blind corners.

More represented one of three community associations to make presentations to the police board.

Issues raised ranged from a lack of police liaison officers to tales of rude 911 dispatchersto absentee landlords and drug houses.

"One of the biggest things I find about the citizen patrol is actually it's a time for people who are concerned about crime in the neighbourhood to come together and share ideas and share thoughts," said Ian Roach, leader of the Caswell Hill Community Patrols, a group that watches for suspicious and unwanted activity.

"We're certainly not trying to find crime." 

A syringe near the Mount Royal neighbourhood area known as the "barrier strip." (Supplied/Mount Royal Community Association )

Roach said issues like poverty and poor housing and addictions need to be addressed to stop the city's "crime crisis.". 

"I've heard people around this table indicate that we can't arrest our way out of this problem and I think that's certainly true," he said.

Board chair Darlene Brander said the presenters provided key insights. 

"What we found today was really valuable to hear," she said. 

Brander said community associations play an important role in how the police service allocates resources.

Police Chief Troy Cooper praised the work being done by community patrols and neighbourhood watches.

"We often rely on the information provided by them," he said.

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