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City News & Information

Posted on: June 9, 2021

Update on Community Safety and Wellness

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Community Safety and Wellness in Wetaskiwin: A City Perspective

 

Where we are

As a community, we are all navigating a difficult balance right now between supporting those who suffer from significant mental health and addictions issues, to ensuring the safety and security of the community-at-large—especially those within the downtown core.

 

It’s no secret that Wetaskiwin desperately needs integrated supports and comprehensive treatment options to help address our community’s mental health and addictions issues. It’s also no secret that many within the community currently feel unsafe due to being followed, harassed, or assaulted by those who self-identify as Hub clients.

 

So, where does this leave us? Honestly, there is no easy answer to this complex issue. Ongoing dialogue, patience, empathy, and a willingness to hear everyone’s experiences are all required if we hope to find a solution acceptable to everyone.

 

Where we’re headed

Ultimately, where we go from here depends on the collective actions of everyone who lives or works in Wetaskiwin—the City included. The recently completed Fifty-Year Community Vision–which was community-built, with input from nearly 10% of our population—sets the framework for our future success. By 2070, Wetaskiwinites want to see:

  • unquestioned safety and security of persons and property for residents and visitors alike
  • A resilient economy rich with opportunity
  • A thriving downtown core that honours our past
  • Abundant nature inside and outside the City
  • Easy access for people of all abilities

The City has embraced the Fifty-Year Vision and is aligning its policies and practices with the outcomes specified by the community, but the City itself is not solely responsible for realizing the vision. We all are. This vision challenges us all to look beyond the challenges of today to the possibilities of tomorrow. It encourages us to dig deeper within ourselves and come together with others who care about this community—and all those who call it home—to begin making this vision a reality.

 

What the City is doing

The City is:

  • Partnering with the Chamber in addressing business safety/security concerns
    Following individual meetings held with downtown business owners earlier this year, the City and Chamber of Commerce partnered to host a series of virtual information sessions where all businesses could share their experiences and hear about current efforts underway to help address safety and security concerns—especially in the downtown core. A Hub Taskforce update was virtually presented to the community on June 8, 2021. Watch the recorded session here to find out more. The Hub Taskforce continues to engage decision makers for support to long term solutions.
  • Spearheading a Community Safety and Wellness Steering Committee
    The City is spearheading the development of a Community Safety and Wellness Steering Committee with a regional focus to help build capacity and encourage resource sharing. The many community issues we face do not exist solely within our municipal boundary—they are human-centric issues created and largely perpetuated by trauma and inequities. How we work together as a region will heavily influence our collective success in addressing these challenges. More information about this committee will be available in the coming weeks.
  • Part of the Guiding Coalition on Homelessness
    Organized by Wetaskiwin FCSS, the City is actively participating in this recently re-established coalition which aims to assess community needs and coordinate local efforts related to homelessness. Anyone interested in finding out more about the Guiding Coalition on Homelessness is invited to call Wetaskiwin FCSS at 780.361.4425.
  • Advocating for additional community supports and resources
    Wetaskiwin City Council continues to lobby the provincial and federal governments for funding and other resources which will assist our community in overcoming the significant challenges we face—especially pertaining to community safety and wellness. The recent announcement of ten (10) additional RCMP members coming to the Wetaskiwin region for the next three years to help us reduce our crime severity index is a direct result of Wetaskiwin City Council’s lobbying efforts. Council has, and will continue to, advocate for mental health and addictions supports for Wetaskiwin.

What you can do

We all have varying levels of interests, expertise and energy to contribute. This is where the complexity is compounded. Some people spend a large portion of their lives contributing to the wellbeing of the community. Others are just trying to survive—doing the best they can for their families and themselves. Whatever your current situation, here are a few things that will help us all move—together—toward tackling the issues faced by our community and region.

  • Learn about the issues
    The issues we face as a community are complex—it’s not simply black and white. If you are interested in helping solve the issue of homelessness, do some reading on the causes of homelessness and proven strategies which help these members of our vulnerable population. Learning more about issues you care about will increase your ability to help find solutions.
  • Attend/watch Wetaskiwin City Council meetings
    Many of the issues we face are being strategically addressed through City Council and Administration. Staying updated on actions being taken by your municipal government is a great way to be informed on these issues—as well as contribute! Each Council meeting is recorded, with the recording uploaded to the City’s YouTube channel following the meeting.
  • Be solution-focused
    We can all agree there are many local issues we would like to solve, but staying focused on what we don’t like will not help us solve them. Be creative! Don’t be afraid to push the envelope with out-of-the-box suggestions—and don’t hesitate to share them on the [what if Wetaskiwin] community engagement portal. Problem solving is a huge part of moving a community forward, and the more we all embrace a solution-focused approach, the more likely we will be successful in finding solutions that work for our community.
  • Speak up
    As a community member, you have a right to speak up and be heard. The City is listening and is always open to ideas and suggestions from the community-at-large. Whether you contact a member of City Council, speak at one of the Open Mic sessions at a Council meeting, or email/call/DM the City, we want to hear your ideas on how—together—we can continue moving our community forward.

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