Residents of Trail will have the chance to share their stories of wrongdoings against them during the Community Safety Task Force’s first public meeting, slated for Wednesday, June 5.
However, it’s important to know that the public forum is not geared toward re-hashing criminal events with no end results. Rather, the facilitated meeting - which will pose three specific questions for roundtable discussions - is meant to give the community a platform to brainstorm real ways to improve public safety and mitigate the rippling effects of petty crime.
“We want to engage the public, it’s important that the public has a say, and this will give the public an opportunity to share their stories and also to come up with, and help us, with some solutions,” says Sandy Santori, Trail councillor and task force chair.
“The magic word here is mitigate, knowing of course that we do have some limitations. We cannot cure mental illness, addiction or poverty, but I am sure there are steps we can take to mitigate the fallback or the impact of those issues and how they affect crime and public safety in our community,” he added.
“It’s imperative that the public has a say and that we listen to them.”
Council approved a $10,000 budget to hire Dr. Gordon McIntosh, an experienced facilitator who has lead similar sessions from Whitehorse to Lake Country and Wheatland County, AB to the Town of Windsor, N.S.
McIntosh advised the task force that a step-by-step process is critical to be able to provide a clear and practical guide for council, and others, to effectively respond to community concerns.
After he presents a “Community Safety Framework,” attendees will be asked to reflect on three questions. As a whole, those questions will focus on the characteristics of a safe community as well as key existing organizations, and personal experiences and concerns.
Following the June 5 meeting, which is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Trail Memorial Centre gym, task force members only will meet the following day to begin developing a long-term goal, or strategic plan.
“Community Safety Task Force members are going to be at the tables directly transcribing the notes and hearing feedback from the community members,” explained Mayor Lisa Pasin. “Which is going to be beneficial for them to then come back the next day as an aggregate and participate in the session and brainstorm.”
The forum is also an opportunity to communicate what limitations council, the public, the RCMP and the justice system have in terms of improving safety and reducing crime, Santori concluded.
“Hopefully we will get that cross-section of information and we will be able to develop the most focused plan of attack that we can implement with reasonable cost and with resources that we have.”