Mayor Kerry Cook says when she’s gone to workshops and meetings, she’s shared Williams Lake’s successful strategies in reducing crime.
So when the city received a letter from Thompson Mayor Tim Johnston inviting the city to attend a meeting with other Canadian municipalities that fell in the top five rankings in the latest crime severity index, Cook immediately viewed it as a proactive measure.
“I would love to hear what the other mayors and municipalities perceive what we do have in common,” Cook said. “What’s working in certain communities and how we can share some positive things and learn from each other to work together to find some solutions.”
Johnston told the Tribune Wednesday the response to his letter — also sent to the mayors of North Battleford, Portage la Prairie, Prince Albert, Yorkton, Prince Rupert, and Yellowknife — has received an overwhelming positive response.
“We have not heard a negative response in terms of participation. In fact, most have indicated a willingness to travel and it looks like we’ll proceed with a meeting late September to mid October,” Johnston said, adding they want to avoid any elections or conventions such as the Union of BC Municipalities taking place in Victoria Sept. 24 to 28.
Thompson ranked first overall in terms of violent crime and second overall in both overall crime and non-violent crime for communities with a population of more than 10,000; however, the community has been working on some interesting ways of tackling crime.
“Prince Albert in Saskatchewan are doing some very interesting things,” Johnston said. What really struck us when we looked at the numbers and did a little bit of analysis we saw very clearly there were an awful lot of similarities between the communities placing in the top five.”
His council felt it was important to have those communities come together and talk about the index itself, because in some ways smaller communities may be challenged by the index because of per capita.
“There’s nothing there that pre-qualifies in terms of the data other than per capita. One major incident in a small community doesn’t look very good.”
Johnston suggested the meeting will be an opportunity to look at the index, but more importantly to share some ideas that are taking place.
“I truly believe we have to be very strong as municipalities and approach senior levels of government, whether that’s provincial or federal, and have a discussion because if we’re starting to see some of those common elements in communities then maybe we have to look at an approach where we start to target those things for those communities.”
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has also shown a strong interest in the proposed meeting and becoming involved.
“I think that’s important and will take it to a new level. In all honesty the response has been far more positive than we even anticipated.”
A location for the meeting hasn’t been determined. However, Johnston indicated many have said they’d be willing to travel to Thompson, even though his letter indicated Thompson would be willing to hold the meeting in a more central location. Cook and council discussed the invitation during the regular council meeting Tuesday and showed enthusiasm for the idea.
Most council members, however, felt a teleconference or video conference meeting would be the best option because of travel costs.