Fighting crime before it happens: Public safety strategy headed to Halifax council
The strategy is a roadmap for Halifax regional municipality to address social determinants of crime as a way to prevent it, rather than react to it.
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After more than a year of work, the municipality’s new public safety strategy comes to Halifax regional council on Tuesday.
The strategy, which stems from a violent year for Halifax in 2016, is a roadmap for the municipality to address social determinants of crime as a way to prevent it, rather than react to it.
“The Strategy concentrates on areas where the municipality has both the authority and capacity to act,” HRM public safety officer Ted Upshaw writes in a report to council.
It lists four priorities, with 16 objectives and 76 specific actions for the municipality to take on in the next five years.
Here’s a breakdown of the plan's priorities:
“Build Resident Resilience”
This priority aims to improve overall quality of life for Haligonians, with four main objectives: to “connect residents to quality jobs;” “help children and youth succeed at school;” “improve residents’ mental health;” and “build child and youth resilience.”
Some of the recommendations to the municipality in this priority are to promote municipal job opportunities, “assess the feasibility of promoting a living wage for all residents,” and equip municipal staff to respond to mental health crises.
“Ensure Safe Places”
Affordable housing is an area where the municipality will need help from the province, but this priority also includes areas where the municipality can take more direct action.
The four objectives are to “preserve and grow the supply of affordable and emergency housing;” “enhance access to arts, culture, recreation and natural assets;” “improve mobility so that people can learn, play and work more effectively;” and “make spaces and places beautiful.”
Under this priority, it’s recommended that the municipality hold landlords accountable for “substandard housing” and continue to improve transit.
Food insecurity is a growing issue in Halifax, with many communities lacking access to affordable, healthy eats. That’s one issue the strategy addresses under this priority, with four objectives: to “support residents in parenting and mentorship;” “improve access to healthy, affordable food;” “make programs, services and facilities more inclusive;” and “enhance community cohesion and engagement.”
The actions here include encouraging urban agriculture like edible landscaping and community gardens and ensuring recreation programs remain affordable.
“Prevent and Reduce Crime”
The entire strategy aims to reduce crime in HRM, but this priority addresses that goal specifically, with four objectives: to “decrease violent crime and criminal involvement;” “divert and reintegrate offenders;” “reduce the availability and harmful use of alcohol and drugs;” and “decrease interpersonal violence, abuse and neglect.”
To meet those goals, it’s recommended the municipality “improve drug users’ access to treatment and harm reduction support” and “provide counselling and support to communities in the immediate aftermath of violent crimes,” among other actions.