Efforts towards creating a safer community in North Battleford continued to come together this week at the latest meeting on community mobilization.
The meeting, held Tuesday afternoon at Don Ross Centre, was attended by a cross-section of people from the various community-based agencies that deal with addressing crime and social issues facing the community.
Those at the meeting included representatives from Catholic Family Services, Victim Services, Interval House, Battlefords and Area Sexual Assault Centre, North Battleford Housing Authority, Social Services, Justice, Citizens on Patrol, and a number of other agencies and groups.
City Hall was well represented with Mayor Ian Hamilton and city manager Jim Toye in attendance, while coun. Ray Fox also was there in his role with Battlefords Tribal Council.
It was the fourth meeting that had been held on community mobilization in North Battleford. The vision, according to Cpl. Gertrude Maxwell of the RCMP who has been coordinating the meetings, was to “look at a safe, healthy community, which involves both the whole community as well as key organizations within the community.”
This particular meeting offered a chance for the various agencies in North Battleford to get together to familiarize everyone with their various roles. They eventually were divided into three work groups who came back at the end of the meeting with some ideas going forward.
Much of the talk at the meeting was about getting a “Hub” launched in North Battleford, similar to the successful model in place in Prince Albert.
The Hub program in place there sees a collection of agencies, including the police, social services, the school divisions and other agencies, working in a coordinated way to focus on prevention of crime and creating a safer community.
The Prince Albert model is based on similar community mobilization efforts that have seen success in Glasgow, Scotland. As well, there were similar efforts in South Africa years ago, Maxwell notes.
People from Prince Albert went to Scotland to see their community mobilization efforts in action and developed their model based on that, she said. Now Prince Albert wants to help other communities establish their own “Hub”.
“They’re looking at franchising it and doing training models for the rest of the country as well as the province.” Maxwell said of the Prince Albert effort, who notes the model is likely to come to this area fairly soon.
She notes Premier Brad Wall and the ministries have endorsed it, and so “it is definitely going to happen and it is what people want.”
Those at the meeting in North Battleford expressed a clear desire to set up a Hub or something similar in the city as well. They expressed their desire to be ready to hit the ground running in the fall inn that effort.
However, sentiment was also expressed to proceed cautiously in order for the North Battleford effort to be a success.
Maxwell indicated there will be work ongoing throughout the summer so that in September a larger group meeting will take place with the community and decide what was learned in the summer and get feedback.
“Hopefully, between now and the end of the year, we will have an actual Hub, or whatever the community wishes to call it, a working group that is going to deal with cases or situations in a timely manner to intervene to help people be healthy and well.”