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New Initiative to Help "Empower the Community"

(Tuesday, July 16/2002)-- Mayor Peter Kelly and Members of Halifax Regional Council announced a major new initiative today aimed at helping citizens to rid their community of graffiti scrawl, vandalism, litter and other incidents of property damage and destructive acts.

Entitled the "Community Response Initiative," this new effort will match existing municipal funding and resources with citizen, business or community partnerships or sponsorships to maximize the impact of clean-up efforts in neighbourhoods and communities.

Mayor Kelly said "The Councillors and I have heard from all parts of the municipality that residents are concerned about these problems and they want them addressed. We, as a municipality, cannot do it alone, but with the help of our citizens we can work together to combat the actions of a destructive few. At the same time, we will improve and enhance public safety and quality of life in HRM, as well as restore community pride."

The Mayor said the initiative will not be a one-time effort or a brief clean-up campaign launched once a year-- it will be an ongoing attempt to rid the municipality of "on the edges" types of vandalism and disregard for public and private property that often lead to more serious types of criminal activity.

"If we don't address these problems now, the situation will only escalate. We care about our community and we are not going to condone or tolerate the actions of a few who choose not to obey the law or respect other people's property and right to peace and quiet," he said.

Former Halifax Regional Police Constable Gary Martin has been named project Coordinator for the Community Response Initiative.

George McLellan, Chief Administrative Officer, said Mr. Martin will report directly to him and the Budget for the initiative will be funded through existing financial resources.

Mr. McLellan said "Mr. Martin will be the conduit between the various business units of HRM and the community-at-large. There is no place for graffiti, litter, vandalism, illegal dumping and the destruction of public or private property in a community that cares about itself."

He said" This initiative is a work in progress. Its focus may change from time to time, but overall, its sole purpose will remain improving and enhancing the appearance, quality of life and environment of the Halifax Regional Municipality. We are not going to let little problems, become bigger problems. That is not our sense of community."

Although the Community Response Initiative will eventually touch all business or service units of the HRM, the initial start-up effort will include the Capital District Task Force, Halifax Regional Police, RCMP, Parks and Recreation Services, Solid Waste Resources, Public Works and Transportation Services and Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency Service.

The Community Response Coordinator will strive to build respect for the initiative through partnerships and sponsorships with:

  • Neighbourhood residents
  • Apartment building managers
  • Elected officials (Councillors, MLAs, MPs etc.)
  • Police Services (RCMP, HRP)
  • Business community and corporate sponsors
  • HRM business units
  • Other stakeholder groups
  • The Coordinator will also work with voluntary neighbourhood "Captains" or community leaders to help resolve ongoing clean up efforts. The Coordinator will work in close cooperation with RCMP, Halifax Regional Police Services, HRM bylaw enforcement and other appropriate business units in ensuring coordinated efforts.

    The Community Response Initiative will operate on a "Five "E" approach to deal with graffiti, litter and illegal dumping and vandalism. They include Empowerment, Environmental Design, Eradicate, Educate and Enforce.

    Empowerment- This is what the Community Response Initiative is all about.

    Environmental Design - (crime prevention through environmental design) - Strategic management and use of shrubs and plants, street and sidewalk design, street lighting, murals, etc. The effort is about long term change. Communities, neighbourhoods, streets, parks and citizen's backyards can be made safer and cleaner by individuals and communities taking responsibility for the environment in which they live. All HRM business units will be involved in supporting this campaign and the Coordinator will be a liaison between the business units and the community.

    Eradicate - remove graffiti, clean up litter as quickly as possible. Graffiti must be removed with volunteer assistance or corporate sponsorships / business support. The campaign will work to change public attitudes toward graffiti, litter, neighbourhood safety and the need for a cleaner environment.

    Littering is everyone's problem. Unsightly litter and graffiti can lead to bigger neighbourhood problems.

    Part of expecting more responsible behaviour means not tolerating irresponsible behaviour by the few who do not have the community's interest at heart. Through Community Watch lines and other awareness efforts, it is hoped that these irresponsible behaviours will be reported and addressed.

    Educate - Graffiti should not be considered art. It is an issue of permission. These vandals can, and should, be prosecuted. The Community Response Initiative will work with the Regional Police and Legal Services to ensure that offenders receive justice. However, a more creative way to approach a solution is through efforts like Adopt a Street / Adopt a Block / Adopt a Neighbourhood Program. These programs will be developed further as corporate sponsors or volunteers come onboard . The cost of cleaning up litter, including illegal dumping on rural roads has put a huge strain on the Municipality's ability to supply this, and other services. HRM is appealing for civic pride and asking its citizens to be partners in addressing this problem. By participating in this program, community groups and individuals help the municipality to maximize its funds and available resources and create clean environments which will lead to safer and more livable communities. Additionally, schools, youth and student projects and events will foster a responsible attitude in young people towards the environment by changing attitudes toward littering, graffiti, polluting, etc. This will dovetail with other school education efforts currently underway, through community policing efforts and community strategies such as "Neighbourhood Watch", etc.

    Enforce - Graffiti writers tend to be methodical in their approach. However, through an expanded Community Watch (City Watch) line, residents will be able to call and report offenders. The Community Response Initiative will liaise with the Halifax Regional Police, RCMP and /or bylaw enforcement officers who can also play a proactive role in educating the public. Additionally, HRM will conduct outreach clean-up and beautification activities. The Coordinator will provide them with the technical assistance and resources they need to be successful.

    Halifax Regional Police and RCMP will develop strategies to monitor graffiti, as well as gathering intelligence/information to apprehend individuals who break the law by causing property damage and other acts of vandalism.

    -30--

    Mayor Peter Kelly
    (902) 490-4010

    George McLellan
    Chief Administrative Officer
    (902) 490-4026

    Gary Martin
    Coordinator, Community Response Initiative
    (902) 476-9555

    Above content last modified Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 8:49am.