A Vancouver Island University criminology student will prowl neighbourhoods around Northfield Road to gauge sentiment about crime in the area.
Kyle Hubner, a fourth-year VIU student, along with Nanaimo RCMP Community Policing staff and volunteers will canvass the area’s residents and maybe even get some of them to join in a Northfield neighbourhood safety walk on March 8.
Already this year, Hubner has already contacted about 250 businesses and 150 have responded to a 32-question online survey.
“I’ve heard their concerns about crime and public safety in the area,” he said.
The most common complaints from businesses, so far, concern thefts and vandalism, fuel siphoned from vehicles, and break-ins to industrial yards by cutting through fences. There are also concerns about vehicles speeding, especially around schools.
“I hand them my survey [letter] and I explain to them what I’m doing, what the project entails and encourage them to take part in the survey and at that time I ask them if they have any questions or concerns about crime and public safety in the area,” Hubner said. “The majority of the business community have been very respectful to me and honest, which is what I’m looking for.”
Hubner’s career aspiration is to become an RCMP officer. He volunteered in community policing for four years in his hometown of Williams Lake, and said the work gave him experience in working with the public and listening to their concerns. He also has training in crime prevention through environmental design, which he employs when he visually surveys a neighbourhood to see what changes to properties can be suggested to lessen the chances of them becoming targets for criminals.
“I’ve made notes and taken some photos of areas of concern that I wish to bring to the attention of the city and the RCMP going forward,” he said. “One area, in particular, was the trail located behind the Beban Park golf course, behind the Northfield businesses. It’s a heavily forested area, overgrown, kind of dark, lacks lighting. I walked through there and I observed numerous areas of graffiti on the exterior walls of buildings, drug paraphernalia … so stuff like that I make note of and forward that on to the city and the RCMP to see how they want to go with how they address those issues.”
The next step in the audit is the actual safety walk March 8 at 6:30 p.m., starting from Forest Park Elementary School.
“I’m hoping to have lots of residents come out and hear their concerns regarding crime and public safety in their area and walk with them, listen and get a better sense of the community that I’m working with,” Hubner said.
Reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson, said the initiative is part of a commitment to ongoing dialogue and consultation with community members.
“We want to hear from them, directly, what their concerns are in their neighbourhoods because they’re all unique,” he said. “This is a great way to do that, so we can connect with them, on a very informal level, while walking through their neighbourhood and then we can share our knowledge and expertise on what we see from a crime prevention perspective and what they see from their personal knowledge of living in their neighbourhood.”