Eaux Claires is a beautiful neighbourhood. I have spent much of May door-knocking amongst some truly marvelous houses. I have heard concerns from many residents. To my initial surprise, it was brought to my attention that there are a few hotspots for crime. I investigated and have come to several conclusions.
As the picture for this post shows, the areas in question (along 160 Avenue) encourages vehicle loitering, loud car audios, and drug-dealing rendezvous. When I went to observe the situation for myself, I head plenty of swearing and I saw suspicious behaviour. As an urban planner, I see this problem from several design angles.
The first problem is that the original subdivision plan for Eaux Claires should have contemplated the ‘non-participating landowner’. The road is abruptly truncated because the City does not own the land to pass the road through. Without the road being completed, the low-traffic location has become an enclave for trouble. The original subdivision could have planned for this possibility and the road could have been designed differently.
The second problem is from the perspective of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), which is a mouthful of words—but a philosophy in planning and policing that suggests you can build places to discourage crime. Conversely, you can build places that encourage crime. The situation in Eaux Claires, near the park, is ripe for crime. It is dark and criminals can see the police coming from a distance. There are no eyes on the street for surveillance. The nearest houses are just far enough away. When the police do come, those loitering scatter quickly. When the police leave, they come back and continue the party.
What Can We Do Now?
Okay, so we have an existing situation. We can’t redesign the road and the installation of lights would likely not be acceptable to the neighbours. What tools do we have to drive the unwanted activity away? The answer is actually easy. Under Traffic Bylaw 5590, we can place signs that limit parking and stopping in the troubled areas. As some neighbourhood users of the park likely want the ability to peacefully use the on-street parking along 160 Avenue, we have to be careful about what we ban (and when). But parking and stopping restrictions could be placed during evening and night hours when the unwanted activity is at its height.
By the way, “No Stopping” means just that. It is more restrictive than “No Parking.” Within a No Stopping Zone, a vehicle cannot halt, even with the driver present and ignition on.
Won’t the loiters still just drive off when the police come? Perhaps yes, but it does give the police another tool. Police from a distance will be able to observe violations to the traffic bylaw and then come in to enforce it. It won’t work every time, but the issuance of traffic tickets would discourage the appeal of this location to those wishing to loiter.
Give this approach six months and I bet the area will be cleaned up.
For new subdivisions, let’s be mindful of this during the design phase. I’m looking at you Crystallina Nera.
I am in favour of fighting crime and cleaning up the north side. I have practical solutions. I hope you can support me to be your next Ward 3 Councillor. When voting on October 16, vote Jon D for Ward 3.