That’s a thrilling headline – a reference group!? More on what that means further down.
We met last week at Jo-Anne Poirier’s office. Jo-Anne, is key member of the group, CEO of Ottawa Community Housing….and a real dynamo who is recovering from painful foot surgery.
The reference group is puzzling through how to address crime prevention from a neighbourhood perspective, overseeing the CPO sponsored initiatives in Vanier, Lowertown and Pinecrest Queensway as well as our new experiment with a business community along Merivale near Carling.
We are exploring issues such as how can CPO address crime prevention in a rural setting. In the rurals, the neighbourhood dynamics are completely different from the mobile, dense urban communities where we have focused to date. We need to figure out how to transfer crime prevention techniques in a way that makes sense.
Another issue that seems to be theme across neighbourhoods, and something that we don’t really know much about, is the relationships between communities. We are especially interested in the inter-relationships were there is pubic housing right up next to middle-income owner-occupied housing. Some areas have positive supportive relationships, others want to build fences, but we really don’t know why. The isolation and stigmatization of some public housing communities seems to be, if not actually contributing to the crime rate, certainly negatively affecting quality of life and perceptions of safety.
So why this early morning think tank? (yes the meeting was at 7:30am!) Last year when the Board of Crime Prevention Ottawa decided to end our open call for funding proposal, we needed to create a decision-making mechanism to replace it and to focus our actions more strategically and in line with our strategic plan – so the Reference Groups were born. There are three, violence against women, youth and neighbourhoods.
The Reference group also includes Syd Gravel, retired police officer and active community volunteer, and Professor Fran Klodawsky. In order to make the CPO staff workload manageable, these groups are kept small, three members each, but maybe this blog will be a way of soliciting input. By the way, CPO has a staff of three… and two are on holiday, so please comment, I’m lonely!! (Well, that’s not fair, I do have our summer student, Akuol, who set up this blog site for me and will be here for another three weeks.)