Mayor brings back safety lessons from Ontario
Crouse visits Caledon, Ont. to see why it often tops safety rankings
Saturday, Jun 21, 2014 06:00 am
St. Albert might do well on provincial and national community safety rankings – but Caledon, Ont., does better.
During his recent trip to Ontario for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference, St. Albert’s mayor took a day to visit Caledon to see what that community does when it comes to safety.
St. Albert generally does well when it comes to the crime severity index or lists in magazines like Maclean’s that rank safe Canadian cities. Caledon, though, often tops those lists.
“So I thought I need to go learn while I’m there,” Crouse said. “When I left … I go, ‘I understand now why they’re ranked where they are.’”
“It’s got nothing to do with anything else other than they’ve got such commitment,” Crouse said. “They have such community development. This is so grassroots it knocks your socks off.”
Caledon’s mayor and council are involved in a variety of community safety-related committees, Crouse said, something that isn’t talked about as much at St. Albert’s council meetings.
“The tone at the top is very, very strong in Caledon,” he said.
The local police department does traditional policing.
“But they do a lot more proactive and prevention (work) than a typical community would do,” Crouse said, adding that St. Albert does OK on this front with officers in schools and the DARE program.
But in Caledon, community buy-in is huge.
“They have community volunteers that take their lawn chair and sit at the red light and watch the number of people texting while driving and count the people running red lights and report that to the police, and that’s just one example. The police don’t issue tickets, they issue warnings,” Crouse said.
Citizens drive around checking on garage doors that are left open, for lighting problems and for other safety issues.
St. Albert has some groups who do those things.
“We’re pretty good in St. Albert. They’re outstanding,” he said of Caledon’s efforts.
The community and efforts in Caledon haven’t always been so focused on safety. Crouse said their mayor told him how the focus shifted after a traffic collision left eight teenagers dead on Mother’s Day more than a decade ago.
“That traffic accident changed their entire philosophy,” he said.
Crouse’s report, which he wrote for council during his trip, notes that the Ontario municipality pays the chair of its police advisory council committee. It also urges volunteers to attend conferences and pays for them.
“I would call it nominal but they put money into it,” Crouse said of the funds that Caledon spends on its efforts.
Crouse met with the mayor, police chief and police advisory council.
He hasn’t done much yet with the information he brought back, he said, though he’s asked for a meeting with St. Albert RCMP’s commanding officer.
“I think going forward my influence is going to be the whole issue of how we structure our RCMP advisory (committee),” he said.