Last week, the provincial government announced it’s spending $600,000 over three years on Block by Block, a new community safety project.
The pilot project, announced Nov. 6, will take place in a 21-block area in the North End between the boundaries of Burrows Avenue to the north, Salter Street to the east, Dufferin Avenue to the south and McGregor Street to the west.
Block by Block will see the government, police, schools and community agencies co-operating on a co-ordinated approach towards crime prevention.
"Where we see incidents of violence, can we co-ordinate all of our services in a way and target them to reduce that violence," said Kevin Chief, MLA for Point Douglas and Minister of Children and Youth Opportunities, who is a member of the project.
"Part of that is going to be suppression, which is the situations the police can deal with directly. There’s a violent person, they deal with it. But, some of it is dealing with child neglect. That’s not police expertise, but they’ll know a situation when they see it and a social service agency can come in and come up with a plan that’s best for the family."
Block by Block will be run by a steering committee co-chaired by Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross and Justice Minister Andrew Swan. Heather Leeman of the North End Women’s Centre will serve as executive director.
The office will be located at Murdo Scribe Centre (510 Selkirk Ave.).
Here’s how the provincial government says the Block by Block program will work, as provided by the province in a release:
Can you give me a concrete example of how the project will work?
The community groups and other partners working on this project will develop
approaches that work best in the community.
An example might be if a teenager stops attending classes, drawing the attention of the school. The bigger picture may involve other family issues like job losses, mental health or family violence. Working together at the hub, agencies will put the pieces together and offer the family immediate, co-ordinated help to address their needs.
What role are community organizations expected to play in this initiative?
Community agencies are most familiar with the community they serve and are essential to the success of the project. The province, police, schools and community groups will be working together at the same table, solving problems to help those most at risk. These agencies will also be involved in project governance through a steering committee.
How will privacy and personal information be protected if all of the participating groups are sharing information?
The province and partner agencies will put in place protocols to protect privacy, while also allowing for co-ordination and speedy responses. Privacy is taken seriously and will meet the legal requirements to protect the confidential information of individuals and families.
Manitoba’s Block by Block initiative will also learn from the successful experience in Saskatchewan on best practices, adapted to ensure compliance with Manitoba law.
How will the success of the project be measured?
The Winnipeg Police Service is able to track police calls and crime in the area, which is one measure of the project’s effect. Other indicators could include the number of children taken into care and the number of families accessing support services on a preventative basis. There may also be fewer calls for emergency services. The project in Prince Albert, Sask., which is the basis for Manitoba’s initiative, has seen similar successes.