Thunder Bay – Safer one neighbourhood at a time

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Limbrick Neighbourhood
Christmas Fashion Show in Limbrick with the youth styling in the latest from the Urban Boutique

Safer neighbourhoods in Thunder Bay
Safer Neighbourhoods in Thunder Bay – Community Action Group Breakfast brought the neighbours together

THUNDER BAY – Building a safer Thunder Bay, one neighbourhood at a time. That effort is underway in Thunder Bay. It is happening with help from engaged neighbours, supportive businesses and groups, and help from the City of Thunder Bay.

It is an effort worthy of greater support.

How safe do you feel in your neighbourhood? Unfortunately, residential crime happens more often than you might think, which leaves many homeowners feeling uneasy. But there are steps you can take to protect your home and your neighbourhood. One of the best preventive measures you can take is to simply get to know your neighbours.

In Thunder Bay there are both informal and formal efforts underway to make neighbourhoods better places. 

Thunder Bay – Safer one neighbourhood at a time

Evergreen, a United Neighbourhood has grown over the past several years to help make neighbours into friends. Linda Bruins along with support from the neighbourhood and the Crime Prevention Council are making the area around Minnesota Park in the south core a better place.

In the Windsor, Picton, Blutcher area in the North Core, the Community Action Group is bringing together the neighbourhood. The group started by Alaina King and Steve Mantis has continued to grow and engage with the neighbourhood. 

Similar efforts are underway in the Limbrick neighbourhood as well. Fashion shows, community discussions, and other activities are working toward making the neighbourhood a better place for the people living there. Raven Linklater is one of the growing number of community members making a difference in her neighbourhood.

Limbrick Neighbourhood
Christmas Fashion Show in Limbrick with the youth styling in the latest from the Urban Boutique

While some people only complain, others step up and make a difference. Those who choose to make a difference are going to be the catalysts for stronger and better neighbourhoods.

Urban Greenscapes, CAHIP, Youth Centres Thunder Bay, the Boys and Girls Club, and countless other groups are working to make a difference. There are resources out there for residents to help make our city a better place. 

A national poll by Nextdoor.com, a free and private social network for neighborhoods, found that 67 percent of homeowners feel safer in their home and neighborhood because they know their neighbors. In addition, 76 percent said they thought their neighborhood would be safer if they communicated more with neighbors.

The survey done in the United States offers a lot of similarities to Canadian communities.”The single most important thing you can do to create a safe neighbourhood is to get to know your neighbours,” said Matt Peskin, director of the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), a nonprofit dedicated to community crime and drug prevention. “People who know each other look out for one another. And now with online tools making it easier, there’s no excuse not to connect and communicate with those who live around you.”

In Thunder Bay, the online resource is Facebook. The City of Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council offers information, advice and support for residents who would be interested in making their neighbourhoods into better places. The Thunder Bay Crime Prevention Council provides advice to City Council on the development of an inclusive Safety and Crime Prevention Plan and contributes to its implementation.

Community-based crime prevention  works. Here are some tips for creating a safer neighborhood:

1. Create a neighborhood watch online and off. Host an in-person meeting to discuss how to communicate with neighbors in emergency situations or organize foot patrols. For daily vigilance, use an online tool, like Nextdoor.com, a phone tree, or Facebook.com to share urgent alerts or safety tips.

2. Keep the neighborhood clean. A clean neighborhood is a deterrent for criminal activity. Organize volunteers to pick up litter, cut grass and hedges, and make property repairs. Make efforts to beautify vacant lots with a community garden or flowers.

3. Turn the lights on. Keep a dim porch light on all night to discourage crime. Encourage others to do the same. Consider also leaving an interior light on when gone for the evening or longer.

4. Update your home security. Ensure all exterior doors have deadbolt locks. Lock all windows and connect them to your home alarm system. Shut and lock gates and garages to reduce hiding places. And keep ladders in a locked garage or shed.

5. Get to know the police. Make an effort to meet your neighborhood officers. Report questionable behavior or activity in your area. Attend or help organize an event, like National Night Out, that strengthens ties between police and residents.

Nearly 10,000 neighborhoods nationwide are using Nextdoor to create a virtual neighborhood watch to alert residents about suspicious activity, share safety tips or send urgent alerts about critical issues, like a break-in or house fire.

“We’ve seen our members help police apprehend criminals, support each other during natural disasters, even reunite a lost girl with her parents,” said Nirav Tolia, CEO and co-founder of Nextdoor. “There are so many ways our neighbors can help us, and technology can play an important role in bringing back a sense of community.”

In Thunder Bay the police service is working with neighbourhoods toward a safer community. While the Thunder Bay Police Service remains far less engaged online than the police in other communities in Canada, it is possible that too could change as hardworking front line officers become more engaged with neighbourhoods.

Chief of Police JP Lesveque has some bridges to build with some of the communities in our city. A good start could be found online. Perhaps a good start would be for Chief Lesveque to attend a Social Media the Internet and Law Enforcement conference. There are 70,000 Thunder Bay addresses on Facebook, it is a massive potential audience that could see the Chief of Police take his service online to build stronger bridges within the community.

Thunder Bay Police Service once was a leader in this area. A website CopsnKids was launched but sadly let quietly die. 

Facebook, Twitter and social media offers ways for the Thunder Bay Police Service to reach out, share information faster, and engage with the community.

Making Thunder Bay safer is an issue that is far to important. It needs the active effort of residents, the support of the Thunder Bay Police Service, City Council and the Mayor.

Over the past several years, there have been times when people in our community have rallied to make Thunder Bay a safer communities. It is a goal that should bring all of the engaged players together in unity. 

The results are safer neighbourhoods and a better Thunder Bay. 

Those results are what all of us in our city want. Brave trailblazers are already leading the way forward. Ensuring their success builds all of our success.

Lets Go Thunder Bay.

James Murray

Evergreen a United Neighbourhood has weekly neighourhood walks
Evergreen a United Neighbourhood has weekly neighourhood walks