I believe every neighbourhood should be a safe neighbourhood.
I have seen first hand the impact that crime, violence, and addictions are having in our community.
I have attended a fatal overdose call with police where we were first on the scene, where a young man’s life was lost and it sent a shockwave through his family and friends.
I have gotten to know promising young leaders who have struggled to get out of gangs and addictions but have lost their lives. One of them, Brandon Applegate, was just this last weekend.
I have visited families in their kitchens and heard their concerns about their kids walking to school by unsafe abandoned properties.
I have talked with residents who live beside drug houses and learned the devastating impact this can have on a whole block.
I have talked with downtown business owners, employees, and residents about how increased drug activity is affecting safety and the vibrancy of the heart of our city.
I have learned from police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and front-line crisis workers in organizations what it is like to respond day after day, picking up the pieces of a broken system.
I have also talked to Mayors across our country about how these complex challenges are affecting cities from coast to coast to coast.
We have much to do.
But I am encouraged by progress to date.
We are a more unified community.
Agencies that used to have to go it alone are now working together to address complex problems.
Our police department and community agencies have learned from each other and are pursuing evidence-based strategies to harm reduction.
We’ve got local citizens working on neighbourhood-level solutions.
And there have been two crucial developments in the last few months that are key to making real progress on these issues.
One is that we are now working directly with the Provincial Ministries of Social Services and Health on coordinated approaches to homelessness and housing. Having Provincial involvement is essential because so many of these challenges fall under provincial jurisdiction.
The other is that we are seeing new models emerge that are Indigenous-led partnerships, providing holistic approaches of support to people who are struggling on our streets.
We are in a crucial moment where our collaborative approach is bringing agencies, government, Indigenous organizations, and business together to deliver outcomes.
I am committed to continuing this work.
These are my three goals for the next four years:
- Strengthen police - community partnerships
- Address the root causes of crime
- Make every neighbourhood safe
1. STRENGTHEN POLICE - COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS
- Expand the Police and Crisis Team model so that more addictions and health workers are available as the first line of response
- Continue the work of the Community Safety and Well-Being Partnership to strengthen police and community partnerships and ensure a coordinated approach with the Provincial Government
- Build on the work of the new Community Mobilization Unit and the partnership with the Ohkitchitawak Patrol Group to provide more relationship based policing in areas hardest hit by crime to provide continuity in investigations and deeper partnerships in the community.
2. ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSES OF CRIME
It is hard to loosen the grip of a life of crime. The current justice, corrections, social services, and health systems too often deal with broken people who cannot break free of destructive patterns. It takes a whole-of-community approach to break old habits and equip people with the capacities and opportunities to chart a new path.
Here is how we will succeed:
Tackle the Mental Health and Addictions Crisis
- Implement the Safe Community Action Alliance recommendations on crystal meth
- Work with the Province to establish a Drug Court with proper connection to programs and facilities to be successful
- Create crystal meth and fentanyl-specific treatment options. It is well established that 28-day treatment models are failing in the face
The Next Steps in Addressing Homelessness, the Lighthouse and Downtown Safety
Implement the Saweyhihtotan Partnership: This Indigenous-led intensive case management approach works directly with people who are on the streets and helps them navigate into housing. This is the successful approach used in the relocation of people from City Centre Inn and Suites. This partnership is led by the Saskatoon Tribal Council and jointly funded by the Provincial Government and City of Saskatoon, with support from many community partners.
Jointly lead the Wahkohtowin Task Force: This task force brings together the Ministries of Social Services and Health, the City of Saskatoon, the Saskatoon Tribal Council, business leadership, and Saskatoon Police and Fire Services. It will develop a new shelter model for Saskatoon including the relocation of some of the shelter services at the Lighthouse to reduce the pressure on the downtown and provide a model that better meets the needs of people on the streets, the Downtown and the community as a whole.
Leverage federal dollars through the National Housing Strategy and recently announced Rapid Housing Initiative to build the solutions we need here.
- Provide help now, not later - expand the Smart Cities Challenge project (Connect YXE) that puts information and supports in the hands of youth, their families, and their support networks when they need it the most;
- More facilities to support and empower youth to make safe choices in the evenings;
- Develop a social enterprise program that creates opportunities for youth to join the workforce;
- Youth helping youth – engage young leaders to help develop the solutions that will work for them and their peers.
3. MAKE NEIGHBOURHOODS SAFE
Fix up Boarded up houses and nuisance properties:
We heard from neighbourhoods how boarded up houses were creating significant concerns and responded. In 2020 the Fire Department took action and has demolished 14 houses and through enforcement orders 20 more have been fixed up as safe housing again.
We have also added resources to catch up with a significant backlog of property maintenance complaints. I am committed to supporting greater coordination and rapid intervention to ensure these property concerns are dealt with to build safer neighbourhoods.
Build greater coordination with Community Associations for Neighbourhood Safety
Harness the capacity and local knowledge of community associations to plan and implement neighbourhood safety initiatives