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December 17, 2018

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Not much hope for change after meeting

(From left) Garth Steek, Mo Sabourin, George Van Mackelberg and Devon Clunis are seen during a recent River Heights community meeting.

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(From left) Garth Steek, Mo Sabourin, George Van Mackelberg and Devon Clunis are seen during a recent River Heights community meeting.

There was another town hall meeting at the River Heights Community Centre recently to address property crime in our area.

The last one a few months ago was hosted by local councillor John Orlikow, this one was hosted by his political opponent in the upcoming civic election, Garth Steek.

The forum was conducted by Maurice Sabourin and George Van Mackelberg who are the president and vice-president of the Winnipeg Police Association, respectively. This is the union that negotiates on behalf of the force and they’ve been criticized recently for appearing at mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk’s campaign events.

However, politicking aside, they did point out they are not endorsing Steek or any candidate for that matter but are just interested in what candidates are saying about public safety.

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There was another town hall meeting at the River Heights Community Centre recently to address property crime in our area.

The last one a few months ago was hosted by local councillor John Orlikow, this one was hosted by his political opponent in the upcoming civic election, Garth Steek.

The forum was conducted by Maurice Sabourin and George Van Mackelberg who are the president and vice-president of the Winnipeg Police Association, respectively. This is the union that negotiates on behalf of the force and they’ve been criticized recently for appearing at mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk’s campaign events.

However, politicking aside, they did point out they are not endorsing Steek or any candidate for that matter but are just interested in what candidates are saying about public safety.

They were joined on the podium by retired police chief Devon Clunis.

It appears Steek has quite a lot to say about public safety and crime in our neighbourhood, in fact he appears to be eschewing other issues such as Portage and Main, city infrastructure and urban reserves and focusing entirely on property crime.  

Will this appeal to the electorate? Depends on how many times your car has been vandalized or your bike stolen.

One thing all the speakers seemed to agree on is that a city wide meth crisis is fuelling the rise in property crime and this is exacerbated by cuts to the police budget resulting in less officers and more overworked ones.

About 70 people were in attendance and when asked how many were crime victims around 75 per cent of the room raised their hands.

I feel the bottom line is that politicians can say all they want about this but nothing really changes. And despite the attention of the police it’s unrealistic to expect them to patrol all neighbourhoods all the time. After an hour and a half of listening to the four speakers one thing was apparent. Not one of them presented any sort of plan to solve this issue, just an appeal for more money. Is this what is required to solve the problem?

I feel the only real prevention is with organizations like the Citizens on Patrol Program (COPP) and our own River Heights Patrol run by Chris Lindsey and his team of volunteers, local residents who are volunteering their free time to actively patrol our area and be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Trevor Smith is a community correspondent for River Heights. You can contact him via email at smitht@mymts.net

Trevor Smith

Trevor Smith
River Heights community correspondent

Trevor Smith is a community correspondent for River Heights.

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