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Kenora getting expert help in neighbourhood safety

A consultant has been applying the principles of CPTED – crime prevention through environmental design – in the city's downtown.
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Steve Woolrich has been discussing crime prevention ideas with Kenora businesses.

KENORA – For the past couple of months, Steve Woolrich has been traversing downtown streets and meeting with local businesses to get the lowdown on community safety issues.

It’s all been part of a three-month project for the City of Kenora to apply methodologies under the category of CPTED – crime prevention through environmental design – in the Harbourtown Centre area.

“CPTED is a great tool for homeowners, businesses and corporations,” said Woolrich, a B.C.-based consultant who has advised municipal governments across Canada.

“It focuses on improving the built environment, reducing fear and incidents of crime while improving overall quality of life.”

The CPTED Canada website describes CPTED as an approach based on the idea that “the proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crime, and an improvement in the quality of life.”

One example of CPTED in practice, Woolrich told Newswatch, is having “good sightlines around buildings” so that people can easily spot potential hazards.

Woolrich is vice-president of CPTED Canada and a recent recipient of the Public Health Association of British Columbia’s Award of Merit for his work in communities throughout that province.

Local businesses appreciate his work, according to Harbourtown Business Improvement Zone chair Rob Dokuchie.

“It’s well received,” Dokuchie said in an interview from Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, where he’s a partner and the marketing manager.

“It’s a good thing that they’re doing. The business community seems to be behind it,” he added.

“I think the city is really stepping up and trying to come up with some sort of solution that will help the downtown core and the community as a whole. We’re happy that they’re taking this initiative.”

Under Woolrich’s guidance, the city recently launched its Neighbourhood Empowerment Team of city staff, an OPP officer, local business owners and other community members.

The team, carefully selected to ensure balanced representation, took in a three-day training course facilitated by Woolrich last week.

This training included classroom sessions and practical fieldwork downtown to assess identified problematic areas as highlighted by the public and police.

Woolrich said he will follow up with empowerment team members later this year “to ensure better outcomes.”

The team will also have access to an “online training portal” for further skill development, he added.

When Woolrich’s three-month residency in Kenora concludes at the end of this month, he said, he will present findings and recommendations to the city’s crime prevention advisory committee.

The advisory panel will use that information in formulating a community safety and well-being plan or presentation to city council later this year.

Woolrich said the city has a praiseworthy “proactive” approach to community safety and he valued input from Kenora residents, who he considers the true experts on their own neighbourhoods.

Woolrich will be presenting on his work at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Muse.



Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Mike Stimpson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

After working at newspapers across the Prairies, Mike found where he belongs when he moved to Northwestern Ontario.
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