Let's Make This City Safe Again
Let's Make This City
By Kerry Diotte
When it comes to public safety in Edmonton’s core and on our transit, City Hall is woefully out of touch.
Realistically, that’s the only conclusion one can come to when assessing its inept attempts at addressing this urgent problem.
Take the City's latest initiative, for example.
After more than two years of nothing but talk and hand-wringing at City Hall, Council's latest genius plan to solve our public safety crisis is a survey.
Yep, a survey to consider merging existing public safety bylaws into one single bylaw.
Instead of actually doing something, the City wants to talk some more.
And after this survey is complete, what is the City planning to do then?
You guessed it - more talk, more discussion, more hand-wringing.
When will the City finally do something?
A glance at the public safety page on the City's website will tell you all you need to know:
You can’t make this stuff up.
Despite all that, we still encourage you to take 5 minutes and actually fill out the City's survey, which you can find here.
It might seem silly, but feedback opportunities like this are one of the few ways we can actually tell our representatives to get their heads out of the sand and pay attention to us for once, and with enough feedback, they will be forced to listen.
And when you're answering the survey, here's a radical idea you can consider suggesting to the City:
Let's just enforce the laws we already have on the books!
It's already forbidden to camp out on public property, do drugs in public, cause a disturbance, loiter, threaten people, carry a concealed weapon, fight, etc.
So instead of wasting time re-writing multiple bylaws into one, let's start enforcing what we already have.
Instead of virtue-signalling and navel-gazing with stupid public surveys, let's do something!
We know there’s a problem with public safety, and we’ve all heard the myriad horror stories.
People are afraid to go downtown, and they’re fearful of using public transit.
But there are solutions.
In fact, Edmonton could learn a lot from an idea called the broken windows theory.
The broken windows theory is basically the idea that visible signs of anti-social behaviour, crime, and any form of civil disorder actually create more crime and disorder, including more serious crime, because they reinforce the idea that these actions are acceptable and will go unpunished.
Instead, by enforcing laws pertaining to so-called “minor” crimes such as vandalism, loitering, public drunkenness, and graffiti, both minor and more serious crime will be reduced.
This theory was famously embraced in New York in the 1990s, and helped transform the city from a crime-ridden, ugly hell hole into a relatively safe, welcoming metropolis.
I can attest to that firsthand.
On my first trip to New York, I was stunned to see that every building, wall, and subway car within reach had been tagged with ugly graffiti.
Years later, after the city embraced the broken windows theory, I was amazed at the difference in New York’s appearance.
It was clean, had little graffiti, and I felt safer walking those streets any hour of the day than I did here in Edmonton.
Edmonton needs to embrace this kind of solution.
We need to stop tolerating bad behaviour.
We need to take back our public spaces so everyone not only feels safe but is safe.
Please take another step and write to your City Councillor and the Mayor to demand they take concrete action.
Please share this column with your friends and family.
And please consider making a donation to Common Sense Edmonton to help fund our work and this and other important City issues.
Together we can make this city safe again.
Kerry Diotte is a spokesperson for Common Sense Edmonton, a long-time journalist, former City Councillor, and former Member of Parliament for Edmonton Griesbach.