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Community wellness meeting looks to solve problems

Crime, vandalism, slum landlords and other problems were high on the agenda of local residents Friday at a community meeting held on North Battleford's east side.
Just over 40 people turned up at an East Side neighbourhood wellness meeting to discuss potential solutions to the social issues facing the community. A number of issues were discussed, including crime rates, the state of the downtown, social issues, what to do to prevent youth crime and other topics. John Cormons chaired the session, while charting concerns and suggestions.

Crime, vandalism, slum landlords and other problems were high on the agenda of local residents Friday at a community meeting held on North Battleford's east side.

The meeting, hosted by Steven Cormons and the North Battleford East Side Good Neighbour Network, was designed to promote neighbourhood wellness and was focused on finding ways to make neighbourhoods safe and vibrant places again.

A wide range of community organizations were invited to the meeting at the Knights of Columbus Hall. A number of prominent civic officials were among those in attendance, including Mayor Ian Hamilton, MLA Len Taylor, retired Senator Herb Sparrow, several city councillors and other representatives from various organizations.

The issues that came up at the meeting included many familiar topics the city has faced over the past several months, such as the state of the downtown, what to do about run down properties, affordable housing, vandalism and how to deal with youth crime and the curfew bylaw.

Cormons has worked within the criminal justice system with young offenders for several years. It was his opinion the crime issue would not be resolved by simply sending people to jail.

"We aren't going to fix them in the jails," he said.

Former councillor Don Salie was one of those who voicee his opinion. He said more had to be done than simply locking people up.

"There's an element of society that says round 'em up. Put them in jail," said Salie. "Well, that's not a way you're going to ever rehabilitate people."

He urged people to take a look at the root causes of crime and do something about focusing on rehabilitation, noting the justice system wasn't equipped to handle the job. "We've got to deal with it right at the home, " Salie said.

Current Councillor Trent Houk suggested one way to promote neighbourhood wellness.

"Get to know your neighbour," he said.

He noted that back in the neighbourhood he lived in as a kid, if he had fallen off his bike and scratched his knee, his mom would know before he got home. Houk also said that when he moved into his new neighbourhood in North Battleford he never made a point of getting to know his neighbours. It took a tire-slashing incident that he and a number of other residents were victims of earlier this year for him to find out who his neighbours are, he said.

"Go knock on their door. Introduce yourself," Houk urged people at the meeting.

Cormons told the audience he hoped to see co-ordination take place with the other partners in the community, such as law enforcement and social agencies, in the future. He promised efforts towards neighbourhood wellness would go on well after the meeting.

"I'm not stopping here. This is just really the start," Cormons said.