The City of North Battleford took part in a unique workshop with its partners earlier this week, with the ultimate aim of reducing crime in the Battlefords.
Four levels of government - municipal, provincial, federal and Indigenous - met at the Don Ross Centre to brainstorm ideas Feb. 27 and 28. The groups shared a long-term goal of forming a coalition to address the root causes of crime in the area, and ultimately make the community safer.
North Battleford Mayor Ryan Bater and Town of Battleford Mayor Ames Leslie both took part in the workshop, along with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) on the federal side. They were joined by officials from various provincial ministries, including the Ministry of Justice, and number of local Indigenous community representatives. Several First Nation service organizations that operate in the urban area also participated. Safety, Acceptance, Guidance and Empowerment (SAGE), a group of citizens dedicated to building a safer community, hosted the event, and Bater said the new coalition will have similar goals.
"The workshop was to initiate a framework through which the four levels of government could work together on safety issues in the Battlefords," Bater said. "This was largely building on the work that SAGE has been doing over the last three years."
Bater said each of the four levels of government have different areas of responsibility.
"When we are dealing with the social determinants of crime, or the root causes of crime in our community, in order to address them properly we need all four governments aligned with their areas of responsibility, and with the services they deliver, so we can confront these challenges appropriately,” Bater said.
With the new coalition, Bater said, no one level of government will feel they need to address the issues on their own.
“As a municipality, we have limited ability to impact the root causes of crime, because the responsibilities and authority of a municipal government don’t reach into areas of health or social services, or justice," Bater said.
The mayor added the project is long overdue, and developing it will be a long-term process.
"There is still work to do," Bater said. "We expect a final report in April. Once we get that report and firm up how this framework could work, then we need to start engaging those four levels of government to commit to the framework, and commit to the coalition."
"I am very encouraged by the work the group put in," Bater added. "All of the participants were very engaged in the process. We got farther than I thought we were going to be in the end. I think it's going to be a very exciting outcome come April when we get the final report."
The report will be delivered to INAC for approval first, as they are funding the project, and then given to North Battleford City Hall for distribution.
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