GNSC - Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition


Guelph residents well-served by their neighbourhood groups

Guelph residents well-served by their neighbourhood groups

June 18, 2015

It was very kind of Insp. Patrick Milligan and Sgt. Jeimy Karavelus of the Guelph Police Service to inform me about their neighbourhood policing.

“Community policing is the process by which police and other community members partner to improve community well-being, safety and security through joint problem identification, analysis, response and evaluation,” they said.

That definition is derived from Ontario’s mobilization and engagement model of community policing.

They continued, “Community policing requires the police, the community and other invested agencies to be involved in determining a strategic response to identified problems or issues.”

I find it more of a tailored approach. People from a very small geographic area are given the opportunity to bring their specific concerns to the police and to improve the situation by working with them. Since the issues are specific to those very small areas, I believe it would better motivate the community to take ownership and participate in policing.

There are 14 such neighbourhood groups in Guelph. These groups may hold regular meetings and be able to invite the police to them. The structure of each is different. However, the police say even less formalized groups are effective partners.

Neighbourhood policing is also focused on crime prevention. Therefore, neighbourhood groups would have frequent collaboration with the crime analysts.

The officers explained neighbourhood policing allows for a strategic and specific response to an identified problem by highly engaged local residents. These communities have more eyes and ears available, and therefore are often able to provide more input into resolving the identified issues.

The Guelph Police recognize they are not the only party that needs to take the lead in trying to solve the problems, the officers said.

All the organized neighbourhood groups are supported by the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, which covers a large part of the city. However, there are significant portions not covered by a neighbourhood group.

The Guelph Police agree neighbourhood groups provide an infrastructure for both the police and the community to navigate to the grassroots and police resources respectively, and it is hard to engage the community when there is no such organized group. However, they informed me that they have informal ways of engaging resident in these areas, such as those living south of Kortright Road.

They offered the Safe Semester project as an example. It’s a multi-partnership approach to assisting and ensuring that university students living off campus are welcomed into the community and understand their responsibilities.

I believe, like the Guelph Police Service, that the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition must follow a tailored approach.

The composition of demographics, characteristics and other diverse elements are different from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Some neighbourhoods may require more outreach work and the removal of barriers specific to them. I believe it is the responsibility of the coalition to make sure every neighbourhood has an organized neighbourhood group and access to the resources and benefits other neighbourhoods are enjoying.

The funders of the coalition include the City of Guelph and the Guelph-Wellington United Way. I believe the main goal of the funding is to serve the neighbourhoods. Therefore, the resources and other benefits the members of neighbourhoods with organized neighbourhood groups currently receive should also be equally made available to the members of the neighbourhoods without one, in one way or another.

In believe the coalition should act proactively to form neighbourhood groups in these locations.

I also believe that rather than punishing neighbourhoods lacking an organized group, if the coalition gives them access to these resources and benefits, it may help them create these groups.

Koba Konesavarathan is member of the Guelph Mercury’s community editorial board.

This article was originally posted in the Guelph Mercury