Each year we have reports from residents about crime in our area. Bikes are stolen (either from in front of the house where they were 'just left for a minute' or even from the back yard or a shed). Cars are rummaged through, or broken into overnight. Purses may be stolen and possessions "disappear" off our porches.
There is no simple answer to crime prevention. Police have a limited number of officers available throughout the day and night and generally respond to calls and watch over traffic rather than "patrol" all the time.
My wife and I have lived in MHBP for over 18 years and have had our car stolen and house broken into in that time (both events occurred many years ago but still leave their mark). It always seems "personal" when crime happens, but it happens everywhere in the city and you can even follow "incidents" online.
I urge everyone to read through this article I posted a few years back because all the advice is still good and the links work (I just tested and updated them). Making our homes secure, watching the street, talking in a friendly way with visitors and engaging with neighbours are all ways to prevent crime.
On July 8th of last year (2015), three Mt. Hope residents came out to a Neighbourhood Association meeting and voiced their concerns about the speed of vehicles driving along Waterloo St. The increase in traffic flow because of the closure of King (and what seems like any other street that gets you anywhere) was spurring a noticeable increase in the through traffic.
As a response to this concern the MHBPNA, contacted the Waterloo Regional Police Services, and worked with our Community Resource Officer to bring attention to this issue.
On August 20th, we were assured that Waterloo St would be added to the STEP program (Selective Traffic Enforcement Program). This program helps designate time for enforcement in our hood. This is the right path to slowing traffic by increasing the police presence and ticketing careless drivers.
This summer (2016) we heard of some enforcement happening in the Waterloo St area, and inquired to see if this was part of STEP. It actually was not. We learned that our STEP was run in the last quarter of 2015, October 1st to December 31st. Most of the bad drivers had already found better routes around the construction. Nonetheless, 1 hour total was spent specifically performing, STEP, and yielded no charges.
In February of 2016, after another meeting with our Community Resource Officer, an internal request for more enforcement along Waterloo St was made by our CRO.
As for Highway Traffic Act charges on Waterloo St that were a result of regular patrols, vehicle stop, etc: 12 charges have been laid. These range from driving under suspension, equipment infractions and administrative charges.
Recently we spoke again with our Community Resource Officer about traffic. It happened to be outdoors, and we could hear cars on other roads squealing tires, and revving engines. He wasn’t surprised and stated that it happens in every neighbourhood, including his own. The only way to truly enforce speed in neighbourhoods is to use photo radar. The reality is there are 15 officers on duty at any given time, and between mental health issues, car accidents, etc, our officers are taxed.
It’s not that officers don’t care about our neighbourhood, or the bad drivers, it’s that there are many other issues happening all shift long. As demonstrated above, 1 hour in 4 months won’t solve the problems we all see exist regarding traffic in our hood.
This story is an example of how advocacy works. There are no simple answers to issues like traffic calming but it helps to understand the problem and the resources that are available. Some residents along Waterloo St. have erected hand-made signs asking drivers to slow down and the Region has posted many black and orange “Drive Slow” signs in Mt. Hope so these might help as well.
The MHBPNA has spent several hours meeting with police and other officials over this one issue and we will continue to monitor traffic across our ‘hood (getting the 50K signs installed on Weber St is another example of our work with politicians and staff).
We welcome residents to continue attending our meetings and talk to us about their concerns.
Finally, please be a good driver! Call out bad drivers! Make it a habit to travel in your hood under 40km/h. Bet you won’t even notice how much longer it will take you to get home.
Two years ago, I read an article about the Urban Orchards being set up in Seattle. There have been many built around North America, but I was intrigued by the version described in the article. I wondered if our NA could support something like this, and how it would all come together.
Over the past two years, I have done a great deal of research, met many people doing agriculture work on City property, and talked to anyone I could about an Urban Orchard in our ‘hood. For the most part, I found everyone, including the City, to be very supportive of this idea. One of the most supportive was Adam Spencer, a local trained Horticulture Technician, who has agreed to help spearhead the project.
July 21st 7:00-8:30pm
Room 109 Breithaupt Centre
As I talked to people around the City, it was hard to distinguish what an Urban Orchard is, and how it differs from a Community Garden. An Urban Orchard is a planting of trees, fruit bearing shrubs, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and other native fruit bearing plants. This type of Urban Orchard is relatively self sufficient. Once a year, volunteers would need to prune back the previous years growth to encourage new growth, and weeds need to be kept at bay. That is about it. Community Gardens have much more administration and mainly benefit the people who manage their plots. An Urban Orchard benefits all who walk through it, is open for all to enjoy and anyone is welcome to "harvest".
In May of 2016, the MHBPNA, agreed to support this initiative, and our first meeting is set for July 21st 2016 from 7:00-8:30pm in Room 109 at the Breithaupt Centre. While we have lots of ideas of what we would like; ultimately, it will come down to the Urban Garden that the community wants to build, in the location the community wants.
If you cannot attend this meeting, please email us and we will keep you updated.