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Downtown Crime

I don't think Mr. Billett is fairly characterizing what is happening at Council. The police are the largest line item in the city's budget and are approaching half a billion dollars between direct funding and other sources of income like ticket revenue. As I understand it, Edmonton is the only municipality in Alberta that guarantees funding increases to the police using a formula based on population growth -- every other city department in Edmonton must come to Council on a 4 year cycle to have their budget allocations approved.

The current proposal, as I understand it, is not a budget reduction . Erin Rutherford is suggesting a base level annual budget for the police of about $345 million, which can be supplemented by service package requests for additional funding, which is the same process for other city departments. My understanding is that this is intended to ensure that if the police want to buy a second airplane, for example,. they would have to come to Council with a service package request and explain why they need the money. Once approved, the Police Commission would be responsible for determining how that money is being spent and Council would not have any further say in what happens

My understanding is that Calgary also uses the service package model, which ensures more transparency in police funding. The current formula being used guarantees an ever-increasing budget for the police and I can certainly see why they don't want to give that up. That said, I think it is disingenuous to call this "defunding" because no other police service in Alberta budgets in this manner.
I guess they would say that they are not like other departments. Police are at the heart of keeping an orderly society. This view might not be shared, but they have created a spectacle in the downtown about what the absence of police will lead to. Council shares some responsibility.

I am reminded of NYC trying to clean up after the disastarous 1970s and 80s and adopting the broken window policy. Small infractions tolerated lead to bigger and bigger infractions and eventual chaos. So clean up every bit of graffiti, every broken window, pursue every person who is committing an offence. It isn't a popular theory nowadays, but it seemed to work then.
 
I guess they would say that they are not like other departments. Police are at the heart of keeping an orderly society. This view might not be shared, but they have created a spectacle in the downtown about what the absence of police will lead to. Council shares some responsibility.

I am reminded of NYC trying to clean up after the disastarous 1970s and 80s and adopting the broken window policy. Small infractions tolerated lead to bigger and bigger infractions and eventual chaos. So clean up every bit of graffiti, every broken window, pursue every person who is committing an offence. It isn't a popular theory nowadays, but it seemed to work then.
Fair enough. There is totally a reasonable argument that the police should have guaranteed funding increases every year because they are unlike any other municipal service. But that isn't what Mr. Billett was arguing.

He suggested that by reviewing the funding model Council was in contravention of the Police Act, which is incorrect. He also suggested that any change to the process by which police are funded amounts to 'defunding', which is also untrue.

We can have a discussion about how the police are resourced, but it should be based on facts, not on feelings.
 
I've been living in Edmonton for almost nine years now and I can count on my fingers how many times I've been downtown. It''s just not something that you do and most of my friends and family are of the same opinion. Now I don't have a solution to this problem, I'm just pointing to the fact that it exists. Hopefully the people in charge are taking the right kind of action and dealing with this with the mindset of all Edmontonians. I mean I'd like to take my two little ones (soon to be three) for a stroll but we're more drawn to other places such as St. Albert, West Edmonton Mall and Sherwood Park.
 
Take them for a stroll:

-Al Fresco 104
-Victoria Promenade
-Legislature for a picnic and frisbee or whatever they like
-Park near 109st, walk the MUP to the north terminus of the High Level Street Car and take it over to Whyte and back.
-Park near Churchill, walk to the Funicular, let the ride it, go to the lookout over the river and then hike back through Louise McKinney Park.
 
Also visit:
- RAM
- AGA
- library
- ICE District
And the High Level Bridge streetcar! The round trip tickets don't expire until they get two punches, so you could incorporate the trip between Whyte Ave and Jasper Ave as a way of getting to other destinations!
 
Don't see that happening, but it's time for real and meaningful change for those residents and business owners.
 
It was nice to see so many folks out and about this past weekend; it made it feel almost back to normal and much safer overall.

Unfortunately my visit had a four distinct situations that somewhat marred it:

1. Spoke with my quite independent ~60ish year old female neighbour who has lived Downtown since 2005. She rarely goes for walks anymore and is going to be moving this year because of the lack of safety and feeling 'trapped' in her condo; a real shame.

2. RHW is a cluster around the ETS entrance. Broken window, elevator area disgusting, porta potty had four gang members dealing as it is partially concealed by a large bin. How that passed any sort of CPTED is beyond me (prob did not). Tree lighting dangling and most of it not swept or cleaned up. This a night before the block party. It really, REALLY needs attention.

3. Walking from home to the pre-game on Saturday night, with Jack's Burger Shack in hand, I had to intervene as a younger man on something or with some serious mental health issues yelling at random people walking along Jasper Avenue ran into the Russian Tea Room and started yelling at staff and customers. I helped escort the man out in as respectful a way as possible and asked if he needed me to call anyone. He proceeded to run off.

4. Whilst finishing my burger along 103st, a guy was running out of 7-11 (about 10' from me) with a handful of stuff followed by the store attendant who looked at me ready to chase the guy and she said 'don't bother'.

It was also interesting to note that south of 100ave is seeing more and more homeless sleep in bushy areas in parking lots, against buildings and in various parks. I noted three folks around our building doing this and have not seen that since maybe 2009.

On another positive note though, I have not seen that much EPS/Constable presence in the core in YEARSSSSSSS. I also chatted with a bunch of folks going to the Elks or Oilers game that told me they had not been Downtown in 5-10 yrs and how fun it was coming back to experience the playoffs and go out to bars and restaurants. Again, some very positive things to take away, but much work to do.
 
It was nice to see so many folks out and about this past weekend; it made it feel almost back to normal and much safer overall.

Unfortunately my visit had a four distinct situations that somewhat marred it:

1. Spoke with my quite independent ~60ish year old female neighbour who has lived Downtown since 2005. She rarely goes for walks anymore and is going to be moving this year because of the lack of safety and feeling 'trapped' in her condo; a real shame.

2. RHW is a cluster around the ETS entrance. Broken window, elevator area disgusting, porta potty had four gang members dealing as it is partially concealed by a large bin. How that passed any sort of CPTED is beyond me (prob did not). Tree lighting dangling and most of it not swept or cleaned up. This a night before the block party. It really, REALLY needs attention.

3. Walking from home to the pre-game on Saturday night, with Jack's Burger Shack in hand, I had to intervene as a younger man on something or with some serious mental health issues yelling at random people walking along Jasper Avenue ran into the Russian Tea Room and started yelling at staff and customers. I helped escort the man out in as respectful a way as possible and asked if he needed me to call anyone. He proceeded to run off.

4. Whilst finishing my burger along 103st, a guy was running out of 7-11 (about 10' from me) with a handful of stuff followed by the store attendant who looked at me ready to chase the guy and she said 'don't bother'.

It was also interesting to note that south of 100ave is seeing more and more homeless sleep in bushy areas in parking lots, against buildings and in various parks. I noted three folks around our building doing this and have not seen that since maybe 2009.

On another positive note though, I have not seen that much EPS/Constable presence in the core in YEARSSSSSSS. I also chatted with a bunch of folks going to the Elks or Oilers game that told me they had not been Downtown in 5-10 yrs and how fun it was coming back to experience the playoffs and go out to bars and restaurants. Again, some very positive things to take away, but much work to do.
Just to add my commentary. I live in Oliver and this past week I caught two people smoking drugs in our little garden shed behind the building. We had a homeless person sleep on our front lawn for 24 hours. We called the city who told us to call the police and we called the police who told us to call the city. Eventually somebody from the Crisis Diversion Team came out in a van and asked them how they were doing and then left. The person only left of their own accord about 24 hours after arrival. Our back door was crowbarred as people were trying to get in. And the amount of people walking the streets either high or in a mental illness crisis is astounding.
 
Yup this is pretty much the daily downtown experience now. I know it might take time to see results, but how are those increased police patrols going so far? Hate to be a pessimist, but I'm not sure we'll see much of anything change.

So I'm now up in Matt Berry on northside when I'm in town. It's much quieter and a nice change of pace. It actually took me a few walks to get used to not seeing someone high or something smashed to pieces. It's sad, but that's what I was accustomed to downtown.

On a side note, I'm now in Edinburgh and it's a gorgeous city. A few homeless around, but nothing crazy. Witnessed police sitting next to one having a nice chat. It was pleasant to see that
 
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