Tag Archives: crime

But crime is down in Mayfair…

From the Saskatoon Police

Two males and two females will be appearing in Provincial Court on Thursday, September 6, 2012 charged with a number of drug and weapon offences.

On Wednesday, September 5, 2012 members of the Saskatoon Police Service witnessed what appeared to be drug transactions taking place at a residence in the 1400 block of Avenue G North.  A search warrant was executed at the residence and  four people were arrested.  Two males ages 21 and 23, one from British Columbia and the other from Saskatoon, and two females ages 38 and 18, both from Saskatoon.  Officers seized 36.3 grams of crack cocaine, a .22 calibre semi automatic rifle, and cash. 

The four are are facing a total of 21 criminal charges including trafficking cocaine, possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine, possession of the proceeds of crime, breaches and numerous firearm related charges. 

Removing the Roadblocks to Rehabilitation

There are programs that do rehabilitate offenders.  So why are there not more of them.  Especially applicable in Canada as the debate over Harper’s prison plan heats up.

How can this be, when we profess to be concerned about crime?  As taxpayers, we don’t want to pay the costs of incarceration.  As citizens, we want to be able to live free of crime.  Why, then, the persistence of obvious folly?

The underlying reason is that crime has normally been a highly emotional issue for voters.  Politicians may understand that certain strategies do not leave us safer, yet they do not try to change them for fear of being tarred as soft on criminals.  When crime rates are high and crime is a potent electoral issue, the pressure encourages public officials to appear tough on crime at all costs.  When crime rates are low and voters might be more receptive to more effective approaches, the issue has usually vanished from public attention.

A related reason is that advocates of new strategies rarely have the research that would allow them to make their case.  Especially with an issue like crime, it is important to be able to offer proof to counter the emotion.  But many aspects of why people commit crimes and how to stop them have been little studied. “Research is very expensive to do,” said Peggy McGarry, the director of the Center on Sentencing and Corrections for the New York-based Vera Institute. “You have to create a comparison group out of the files of a public agency, create a database, do interviews.  It is getting harder and harder to persuade private funders to spend money on research because the human need is just so great.  And they are not convinced that legislatures and government offices are going to do anything with the results of it anyway.  Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to evaluate the Castle if you are not convinced that New York State will try to replicate it?”

The good news is that we may have reached a turning point, a chance at last to see effective anti-crime policies edge out ineffective ones.  One reason is the record number of people being released from prison.  This has made prisoner re-entry a hot topic in the field of corrections (if still invisible to the rest of the world).  The politics, too, have changed.  The crime rate throughout the United States has dropped, which means that voters are less panicked about crime and less singleminded about harsh measures.

A pimp business plan

A pimping business planA pimping business plan

According to Youth Radio

The FBI estimates that a mid-level trafficker can make more than $500,000 dollars a year by marketing just four girls.  With so much money being made through trafficking, police say long standing networks of gangs and drug dealers are starting to cross over because they see sex trafficking as an easier game. The potential prison sentences are much lower and the game is less dangerous if you are a pimp or a trafficker.

Youth Radio obtained a hand-written business plan from a pimp. The business plan titled Keep It Pimpin states how the pimp wants to expand his trafficking business locally as well as nationally. He also writes that he wants to discover girls “from all over”–especially girls in jail houses and in small cities.

Alameda County DA Sharmin Bock says the pimp business plan represents a larger pimp mentality. “He said ‘I’m going to take it from the concrete streets to the executive suites.’ And that means ultimately you do want to be in those executive suites,” Bock says. “Ultimately you do want to be doing the big ticket sales of children all over the country. And sadly today there is no better bang for your buck, no better investment on your money, no better return, than selling a child for sex.”

It’s sick to read but it’s why most street level prostitution in the city is run by the gangs, the money is too good to be true.  When I worked nights at work and before the Farmer’s Market was opened, girls took many johns to that area and did their tricks there.  Many of them would come in beaten badly and instead of wanting the police or first aid help, they wanted us to go out and get their $60 back.  I am not sure what $60 gets you (and I never asked but I assume it was sex with a condom, bareback sex apparently costs a lot more) but it was always $60 so I am assuming it was the lowest rate.

Here’s the math at at that rate.

  • $500,000 a year / 4 girls = $125,000
  • $125,000 / 350 nights a year (nights off for illness and recovery from violence) = $358 a night
  • $358 a night / $60 trick = 6 tricks or more a night.

Just think about that number for a moment.  via

Crime and Corruption in Detroit

Mother Jones investigates crime and corruption in Detroit, where the police cook the books, criminals stoke the fire, and reality TV is the only way out.  This may be the best bit of writing I have read this year.  Make sure you read the entire article.

IT WAS JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT on the morning of May 16 and the neighbors say the streetlights were out on Lillibridge Street. It is like that all over Detroit, where whole blocks regularly go dark with no warning or any apparent pattern. Inside the lower unit of a duplex halfway down the gloomy street, Charles Jones, 25, was pacing, unable to sleep.  His seven-year-old daughter, Aiyana Mo’nay Stanley-Jones, slept on the couch as her grandmother watched television. Outside, Television was watching them. A half-dozen masked officers of the Special Response Team—Detroit’s version of SWAT—were at the door, guns drawn. In tow was an A&E crew filming an episode of The First 48, its true-crime program. The conceit of the show is that homicide detectives have 48 hours to crack a murder case before the trail goes cold. Thirty-four hours earlier, Je’Rean Blake Nobles, 17, had been shot outside a liquor store on nearby Mack Avenue; an informant had ID’d a man named Chauncey Owens as the shooter and provided this address.

The SWAT team tried the steel door to the building. It was unlocked. They threw a flash-bang grenade through the window of the lower unit and kicked open its wooden door, which was also unlocked. The grenade landed so close to Aiyana that it burned her blanket. Officer Joseph Weekley, the lead commando—who’d been featured before on another A&E show, Detroit SWAT—burst into the house. His weapon fired a single shot, the bullet striking Aiyana in the head and exiting her neck. It all happened in a matter of seconds.

"They had time," a Detroit police detective told me. "You don’t go into a home around midnight. People are drinking. People are awake. Me? I would have waited until the morning when the guy went to the liquor store to buy a quart of milk. That’s how it’s supposed to be done."

But the SWAT team didn’t wait. Maybe because the cameras were rolling, maybe because a Detroit police officer had been murdered two weeks earlier while trying to apprehend a suspect. This was the first raid on a house since his death.

It’s not just bad policing

Detroit’s east side is now the poorest, most violent quarter of America’s poorest, most violent big city. The illiteracy, child poverty, and unemployment rates hover around 50 percent.

Stand at the corner of Lillibridge Street and Mack Avenue and walk a mile in each direction from Alter Road to Gratiot Avenue (pronounced Gra-shit). You will count 34 churches, a dozen liquor stores, six beauty salons and barber shops, a funeral parlor, a sprawling Chrysler engine and assembly complex working at less than half-capacity, and three dollar stores—but no grocery stores. In fact, there are no chain grocery stores in all of Detroit.

There are two elementary schools in the area, both in desperate need of a lawnmower and a can of paint. But there is no money; the struggling school system has a $363 million deficit. Robert Bobb was hired in 2009 as the emergency financial manager and given sweeping powers to balance the books. But even he couldn’t stanch the tsunami of red ink; the deficit ballooned more than $140 million under his guidance.

Bobb did uncover graft and fraud and waste, however. He caught a lunch lady stealing the children’s milk money. A former risk manager for the district was indicted for siphoning off $3 million for personal use. The president of the school board, Otis Mathis, recently admitted that he had only rudimentary writing skills shortly before being forced to resign for fondling himself during a meeting with the school superintendent.

The graduation rate for Detroit schoolkids hovers around 35 percent. Moreover, the Detroit public school system is the worst performer in the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests, with nearly 80 percent of eighth-graders unable to do basic math. So bad is it for Detroit’s children that Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last year, "I lose sleep over that one."

Duncan may lie awake, but many civic leaders appear to walk around with their eyes sealed shut. As a reporter, I’ve worked from New York to St. Louis to Los Angeles, and Detroit is the only big city I know of that doesn’t put out a crime blotter tracking the day’s mayhem. While other American metropolises have gotten control of their murder rate, Detroit’s remains where it was during the crack epidemic. Add in the fact that half the police precincts were closed in 2005 for budgetary reasons, and the crime lab was closed two years ago due to ineptitude, and it might explain why five of the nine members of the city council carry a firearm.

The policing ineptitude seems almost comical if it wasn’t so serious

As a reporter at the Detroit News, I get plenty of phone calls from people in the neighborhoods. A man called me once to say he had witnessed a murder, but the police refused to take his statement. When I called the head of the homicide bureau and explained the situation, he told me, "Oh yeah? Have him call me," and then hung up the phone. One man, who wanted to turn himself in for a murder, gave up trying to call the Detroit police; he drove to Ohio and turned himself in there.

There has been some improvement

The Kilpatrick scandal, combined with the murder rate, spurred the newly elected mayor, Dave Bing—an NBA Hall of Famer —to fire Police Chief James Barrens last year and replace him with Warren Evans, the Wayne County sheriff. The day Barrens cleaned out his desk, a burglar cleaned out Barrens’ house.

In Chief Evans’ defense, he seemed to understand one thing: After the collapse of the car industry and the implosion of the real estate bubble, there is little else Detroit has to export except its misery.

Evans brought a refreshing honesty to a department plagued by ineptitude and secrecy. He computerized daily crime statistics, created a mobile strike force commanded by young and educated go-getters, and dispatched cops to crime hot spots. He assigned the SWAT team the job of rounding up murder suspects, a task that had previously been done by detectives.

Evans told me then that major crimes were routinely underreported by 20 percent. He also told me that perhaps 50 percent of Detroit’s drivers were operating without a license or insurance. "It’s going to stop," he promised. "We’re going to pull people over for traffic violations and we’re going to take their cars if they’re not legal. That’s one less knucklehead driving around looking to do a drive-by."

His approach was successful, with murder dropping more than 20 percent in his first year. If that isn’t a record for any major metropolis, it is certainly a record for Detroit. (And that statistic is true; I checked.)

The "Homicide Lexicon" and its rules

Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David SimonI am reading Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon and really enjoying it.  Throughout the book, Simon frequently refers to a set of 10 informal rules that apply in the majority of homicide cases, as detectives soon learn. They are as follows:

  1. Everyone lies. Murderers lie because they have to; witnesses and other participants lie because they think they have to; everyone else lies for the sheer joy of it, and to uphold a general principle that under no circumstances do you provide accurate information to a cop.

  2. The victim is killed once, but a crime scene can be murdered a thousand times.

  3. The initial 10 or 12 hours after a murder are the most critical to the success of an investigation.

  4. An innocent man left alone in an interrogation room will remain fully awake, rubbing his eyes, staring at the cubicle walls and scratching himself in the dark, forbidden places. A guilty man left alone in an interrogation room goes to sleep.

  5. It’s good to be good; it’s better to be lucky.

  6. When a suspect is immediately identified in an assault case, the victim is sure to live. When no suspect has been identified, the victim will surely die.

  7. First, they’re red. Then they’re green. Then they’re black. (Referring to the money that must be spent to investigate a case, and the colors in which open and solved murders are listed on the board)

  8. In any case where there is no apparent suspect, the crime lab will produce no valuable evidence. In those cases where a suspect has already confessed and been identified by at least two eyewitnesses, the lab will give you print hits, fiber evidence, blood typings and a ballistic match.

  9. To a jury, any doubt is reasonable; the better the case, the worse the jury; a good man is hard to find, but 12 of them, gathered together in one place, is a miracle. (Referring to jury trials)

  10. There is no such a thing as a perfect murder.

  11. Shooting in my neighborhood

    A shooting on Friday night in our neighborhood

    The shooting happened Friday night near midnight on the 1800 block of Idylwyld Drive, outside a business. Police did not provide any more information about the location. The area includes a number of restaurants and stores.

    Police were told that four or five shots had been fired. When they got to the scene they found a man with a leg wound. He was taken to hospital.

    For all of the conclusions that it was gang related, it almost sounds like an alcohol related shooting (time and location).  While neither bar located on that block are that rowdy, drunk guys with a handgun (I assume it was a handgun) always make things more interesting.

    Concentration of Poverty in Riversdale

    This is the second post in a series on poverty in the core neighbourhoods of Saskatoon.  You can find the first post here.

    A lot of you have asking why my blog series on Riversdale stopped.  The quick answer is that I found a question that I had no answer to.  Of course the long answer is that I started writing about an article that Dave Hutton wrote back in May.  As I started to write about it, I got to a point where i was going to talk about the concentration of poverty in Riversdale (and to a lesser degree, the other core neighbourhoods in Saskatoon).  As I was writing, I remembered hearing Leonard Sweet talk about growing up in poverty in West Virginia.  While I am sure all of us idealize parts of our childhood, he was describing both poverty and a strong sense of community that existed in his youth and even now while West Virginia ranks at the bottom of most indicators of economic strength and standard of living it also have very low crime rates, an issue that has defined Saskatoon’s inner city for a number of years.

    So when Councilor Lorje and Randy Pshebylo comment on the concentration of poverty in Saskatoon, it isn’t just a lack of money that is the issue.

    "The issue is not just poverty," she said. "It’s the concentration of poverty."

    Lorje is backed on the issue by the executive director of the Riversdale Business Improvement District. Randy Pshebylo says the burden of helping the homeless and drug-addicted needs to be shared by other neighbourhoods.

    The concentration of any one thing — be it bars and pubs, pawn shops, retail stores, restaurants or social organizations — diminishes the strength of any neighbourhood, Pshebylo said.

    Missions and soup kitchens are better suited for the avenues adjacent to 20th Street than the main business strip, he said.

    "We just want an equitable neighbourhood," he said. "You don’t put your sink in your living room."

    This interactive map below shows the main social service agencies in Saskatoon.  It isn’t totally accurate as it is building and not agency based (the Family Service Village in Kinsmen Park holds numerous agencies in one place and I chose to include just the YWCA and Crisis Intervention service on the map to give a wider perspective).

    As I plotted out the graph, I didn’t include longer term housing like Saskatoon Housing Authority and Quint Development Corporation (which offers below market rent and I would argue don’t serve a homeless or transient population) or agencies that I knew about but when I Googled their name, I wasn’t easily able to determine the address (which is true of shelters catering to women and youth) which means that they aren’t publically known or want to keep a low profile.  I also left out low income suites targeted towards seniors.  In the end, while some of these agencies are spread over the city, others are in the city core so I think the ratio remains similar.

    Here is the color guide.

    • Red: Emergency and transitional housing locations
    • Yellow: Support agencies that provide supports to people in the communities
    • Blue: Food security
    • Purple: Drop In Centres

    A quick glance at the map makes it obvious that there is a concentration of lower income services in the Riversdale/Pleasant Hill area.  I was shown another map that showed all of the non-profits that are in Riversdale but that also included many of the local churches.  I am going to leave those out of the conversation because some of them have been there for a long time and not all of them are engaged in any ministry or services to the poor (which is a different post in itself).  No matter which way you look at it, there are a lot of sinks in the living room.  The question is why.

    Now it does make sense that there would be a lot of services to the poor in Riversdale and Pleasant Hill as they are the two poorest neighbourhoods in the city and the neighbourhoods around on each side of them (Caswell Hill and King George) also have a concentration of poverty. 

    Saskatoon realtor Norm Fisher’s website provides an excellent visual breakdown of the economics of Pleasant Hill and Riversdale. (charts used with permission)

    Take a quick look at Riversdale’s income breakdown.

    Riversdale's income breakdown

    Of the 306 households making under $15,000/year, 140 households are making under $10,000 year.  See full neighbourhood profile here.

    Head further west on 20th Street and check out Pleasant Hill’s income breakdown

    Pleasant Hill's income breakdown

    Of the 863 households trying to get by on under $15,000, 450 households are making less than $10,000 year.  See full neighborhood profile here.

    South of Riversdale is King George.  One of Saskatoon’s oldest neighbourhoods.

    King George's income breakdown

    Of the 153 households making under $15,000 per year, 65 of those households are making under $10,000 per year.  You can see the neighbourhood profile here.

    Heading even further west you have Meadowgreen.  While it doesn’t have the commercial connection to 20th Street that Pleasant Hill and Riversdale does, it does have a high concentration of poverty.

    meadowgreen-income

    Of the 407 households with an income of under $15,000, 125 of them are bringing in under $10,000.  Again, here is the full neighbourhood profile.

    I was shocked a little by Caswell Hill’s income breakdown. 

    Caswell Hill's income breakdown

    I spend a lot of time walking through Caswell Hill and the amount of low income households caught me off guard.  Especially considering that there are 125 households making under $10,000 a year.  Even a neighbourhood with a high concentration of homes being renovated, fixed up, and improved, there is a significant concentration of poverty.

    In the end you have 2133 households trying to love on under $15,000 a year and another 1662 households trying to get by under $30,000 a year in those four neighbourhoods.  Of those families, a staggering 905 of them are trying to get by on under $10,000 per year (140 households in Riversdale, 450 households in Pleasant Hill, 65 households in King George, 125 households in Caswell Hill). 

    Let’s put this another way.

      $ income/year % less than $15,000/year
    City of Saskatoon 65,487 5.9%
    Core neighbourhoods 35,003 13.3%
    Caswell Hill 41,454 11.2%
    King George 36,805 8.8%
    Pleasant Hill 25,776 18.3%
    Riversdale 29,441 14.3%
    Westmount 34,654 11.4%

    Not only is there a concentration of poverty in the core neighbourhoods of Saskatoon, the underlying causes are hard to overcome.  The vast majority of residents in the five listed neighbourhoods do not have a high school diploma or GED.  Those that are employed are working in retail jobs which often do not feature stable hours and/or a liveable wage.   For those who are not working, they are trying to get by on one of the two main Social Services programs, (through either SAP or TEA). 

    Rental vs. Ownership
      % Rental % Owned
    City of Saskatoon 38 62
    Core Neighbourhoods 49 51
    Caswell 42 58
    King George 33 67
    Pleasant Hill 75 25
    Riversdale 58 42
    Westmount 38 62

    If you have a highly educated and mobile workforce, high rental rates can be quite useful, especially in a changing economy (you can move to where the jobs are).  The problem is that the high rental numbers in the core neighbourhoods are combined with a population with a very poor education.

    City of Saskatoon 6.0
    Core Neighbourhoods 13.2
    Caswell 4.6
    King George 9.2
    Pleasant Hill 18.4
    Riversdale 21.0
    Westmount 13.0

    Take a look at the data… you have low income, low education, low rate of home ownership all in the same neighbourhoods.  Along with it you will see higher rates of violence and crime, despite increased police efforts at curbing it.

    Of course does the concentration of services in Riversdale help or hurt the neighbourhood?  You need to separate the business of 20th Street from the equation first.  Does having a business district in the middle of the second poorest neighbourhood hurt things. Toss in the fact that in 2007 StatsCan found that 1/2 of all of the violent crime in Saskatoon (which was Canada’s second most violent city in 2009) was in Riversdale and Pleasant Hill, it explains why one study in Saskatoon found people felt safer on Broadway Avenue at night than they did on 20th Street during the day.  This is shocking.  Riverdale and Pleasant Hill had 300 crime reports per 1000 residents (second only to the neighbourhoods around Confederation Park)

    2007 crime rate in Saskatoon

    Freakonomics A quick look at the map would show a link between poverty and crime but for those of you who want to study it further, Harvard economics professor Steven Levitt (and co-author of Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics) wrote on the changing link between poverty and crime back in 1999 for the New York Federal Reserve Bank.  As he summarizes his findings of previous research.

    In summary, much but not all of the existing empirical evidence is consistent with the conclusion that poverty and income inequality are associated with higher crime rates.

    This would coincide with what we see in Saskatoon.  The main point of Levitt’s research is that as income gaps widened, the poor went from robbing those wealthier to those who are also poor.  In other words, the rich in Saskatoon are more likely to be able to afford SaskTel SecurTek (with credit checks being demanded by SecurTek and others, it actually makes it very difficult for low income residents to get the same protection as their wealthier neighbours.  We may not have two tier healthcare, we do have two tier Crown Corporations).  This happens for a lot of reasons that can be linked to the rise of crack cocaine and Reagan’s tough on crime policies (Traditional petty criminals were locked up for longer sentences giving drug dealer a new national distribution network).  Once people realized the money that they could make selling drugs to the masses, it spread across the continent.  Drugs like cocaine used to be for the rich, now with crack out there, drugs became a vice of the poor.  The amount of times I see a dial-a-dope run while at work late shows the depth of the problem.

    This matters why?  Lower incomes criminals used to head across the river to the east side to rob people (higher income criminals went to work for Wall Street).  Which more or less spread crime over an urban area.  A combination of technology and wealthy families moving further and further away from the city core turned places like Riversdale, Pleasant Hill and 20th Street into high crime areas.  Wendy and I have experienced this in Mayfair.  We have just seen a lot of property crime on our block… everything from three steering columns being destroyed as people tried to steal our cars to the accompanying smashed windows, to our low voltage landscape lights and Christmas lights being stolen.  Now damage to my car or Christmas lights is one thing.  That is frustrating, annoying, and with a $800 bill even maddening.  Yet it’s nothing compared to how one would feel if someone close to you was violently hurt.

    Here is a four month snapshot of assaults in Saskatoon.  These just aren’t minor assaults either but assaults causing bodily harm, aggravated assaults, and assaults with a weapon.

    Map of 2010 assaults in Saskatoon

    According to police it isn’t that bad.

    “If people are suggesting that crime is spiralling out of control over the last five years, the numbers don’t support that,” said Det. Staff Sgt. Jean-Marc Voisard, who heads the personal violence section.

    But after 31 years with the Saskatoon police, Voisard has noticed that assaults have become more vicious. Injuries are more serious and knives are more common now, he said.

    “When I started, there were stabbings, but not to the extent we see today,” Voisard said.

    “Society has become more violent. People are quicker to resort to violence to settle a dispute, and that applies to bar fights just as much as a family fighting in the living room.”

    The concentration of crime in Riversdale and Pleasant Hill confirms what Stats Canada is saying and makes it even harder for businesses in Riversdale.  This matters because the perception of crime is more important then the crime rate itself.  Back in the early 80s my friends and I used to as ten year olds take the nearest C-Train station downtown to check out the Glenbow Museum on any given Saturday.  I used to catch a bus by myself that would take kids to Pask-a-poo each Saturday and ski all day supervised.  Now when Mark walks the two short blocks to Safeway from our place, even during the early evening, Wendy’s co-workers show incredible concern that he walked two short blocks.  It doesn’t matter that statistically it was more dangerous growing up in Calgary, the perception is that is more dangerous for us now.  Fear is a powerful motivator.

    Not only do you have the fear of crime in the city core, there are several well known links between poverty and mental health.  As the Ontario Mental Health Association puts it.

    People with serious mental illness face many barriers over their lifetime, including stigma and discrimination, which may prevent them from securing adequate education and employment. Experiencing a mental illness can seriously interrupt a person’s education or career path and result in diminished opportunities for employment. A lack of secure employment, in turn, affects one’s ability to earn an adequate income. As a result, people may eventually drift into poverty.

    Moreover, individuals with serious mental illness are frequently unable to access community services and supports due to stigma, gaps in service and/or challenges in system navigation. Lack of sufficient primary health care and community mental health services, shortages of affordable housing, and inadequate income support further alienate them from life in the community. Exclusion from these social and economic supports results in social isolation, significantly increasing their risk of chronic poverty.

    Individuals with work-limiting disabilities are nearly three times as likely to be poor and four times as likely to be in receipt of social assistance as individuals without a disability.

    The stigma of people with mental disabilities is incredible.  Many well meaning people have asked me, “How do you work with those people?”  While listening to the radio a couple of weeks ago I listened to one radio host complain about people who were homeless and had mental people out on the same Saskatoon streets as he was.  The suggestion was that they stay inside.  Many people with mental health and addiction issues are living downtown are in Riversdale and Pleasant Hill and that stigma follows them and of course impacts shop owners on 20th.  This is at the core of the creation of suburbia and bedroom communities (although in Saskatchewan I think it has a lot to do with people wanting to connect to rural roots).

    If you are a shop owner on Riversdale, you have big time problem.  You are surrounded by some of poorest neighbourhoods in Canada which means that your ability to make money off of local consumers is limited.  You are in one of the highest crime areas of Canada which means that you have to rely heavily on attracting customers to come down and spend money on 20th Street and those consumers don’t feel safe. Even the Little Chief Police Station that was intended to make Riversdale safer is a quiet reminder that by it’s very presence, Riversdale isn’t always a safe place to be. 

    In response to the poverty, mental health and addiction issues and crime, it makes sense that several NGO’s moved into Riversdale to help people cope with the poverty.  High end retailers go to where the money is and like it or not, many community based organizations go where societal issues are.  Many of them do very good work but by our very presence in the neighbourhood, we make it harder for businesses to operate here.  Long time readers know that I used to work the 4-12 shift at the Salvation Army’s front desk.  We are right across from what I thought was the greatest Chinese restaurant in the world, The Golden Dragon.  All of the time we would have drunks stumble in to our place and then over to The Golden Dragon causing all sorts of problems for the owners and it’s customers.  That takes a toll on your business and no wonder I have to walk downtown to get a Starbucks.  In the last year or so the Salvation Army has followed the lead of other shelters and has worked hard at keeping the residents and users of our services off the front sidewalk and to the side of the building where we purchased two heavy duty (and quite nice) picnic tables and umbrellas.   Our janitors work hard at sweeping up cigarette butts and garbage but every morning that I come to work there are some guys loitering out front (it is a public sidewalk).  The same can be said about the front of the Saskatoon Food Bank, the Friendship Inn, the Lighthouse, the Bridge on 20th and a variety of other social organizations on 20th Street.  Despite that Wendy has twice been accosted while waiting for me to get off work by guys looking for money and sadly we still get complaints made by people who have had to endure comments by our clients as they walked by.

    I don’t know how much it changes the neighbourhood.  What would be the difference between 20th Street if there was no community based organizations there?  Would it be a thriving business district or without the social structures and emergency services that organizations provide would it be worse off.  Is there an alternative way to deliver services?

    To answer that, I first want to take a look at what life is life for those that are living under $10,000 / year because without that, we don’t even know what is really needed.  I’ll post more tomorrow.

    Prostitution in Mayfair

    The Star Phoenix has an article on the increase of street prostitution in my neighborhood.

    1947742.bin Ground zero for the sex-trade workers is hard to pinpoint, but the new stroll is anchored by 33rd Street West, stretching by some estimates to 38th Street, between Idylwyld Drive and Avenue G North.

    "(It) turns into a different place after 10:30 at night," said Sharon Loeppky, who organizes a citizens’ patrol for the Hudson Bay Park/Mayfair community association.

    "We’re not confrontational. We just walk. We try and make the johns uncomfortable. Those girls, I don’t believe they’ve chosen this life."

    The migration of prostitutes from the 20th Street West area may have happened for a couple of reasons, said Hill, such as the closure of the notorious Barry Hotel and the prevalence of massage parlors in the 33rd Street West area.

    I hold the city responsible for this as Mayfair is home to many of the city’s brothels massage parlors.   While there is a difference in what happens behind closed doors and street prostitution, for those of us who live in close proximity to one brothels massage parlor (it’s half a block down the street), the high speed traffic out of there is incredible and someone is going to die there if something isn’t done.  We live in a neighborhood where young kids run the streets 24/7 during the summer and weekends and now we have traffic approaching 100 km. zooming down Avenue D North.

    It’s a blue collar working class neighborhood.  It doesn’t deserve to be “ground zero” for prostitutes and brothels massage parlors.  Wendy doesn’t need to be harassed coming home from work at Safeway by johns and neither does anyone else.

    My other issue with this article was this statement by the Saskatoon Police Service.

    Until the town hall meeting with 45 residents, police weren’t aware of the increased activity, said Engele.

    I have e-mailed, talked to individual cops and called the police and invited them to park beside my house for a night to see what goes on a couple of blocks off 33rd street.  Apparently they need more invites but what more do I have to do?  It’s frustrating for everyone but with the other sex trade shops in our neighborhood and on my block, doesn’t that become an invitation for street prostitution and drugs?

    Domestic Assault

    As I was coming home last night, I noticed numerous police cars a couple blocks over and there was police tape everywhere around the church a block north in the 1500 block 1700 block of Avenue D.  Apparently a six year old girl was found with life threatening injuries and was shot during a domestic assault in the room next to her.  They apprehended two suspects later on in the morning and are looking for a third.

    I was shocked to hear this.  Having grown up in Saskatoon since 1984, there has been lot’s of knife incidents but you rarely hear of a gun incident.  Considering our block and the neighborhood has grown a lot quieter, it’s a shock when you hear of this just a couple houses down from you.