Recent History – 1999
Oct. 14, 1999, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
Ali Grant is a crime fighter of a different kind. Rather than chasing after bad guys, and solving mysteries, Grant and her colleagues at the British Columbia Coalition for Safer Communities, try to stop crime before it happens. And by that she means more than just making sure the doors are locked at night and the burglar alarm works.
Instead, Grant and the Coalition focus on the things that make people commit crime in the first place, like poverty, poor housing, substance abuse, and abuse of other kinds.
And they tackle such issues by using a social development approach and working with community groups across B.C.
“I think that’s what makes us a bit different,” she said. “We try and get groups to focus on the factors of social and economic inequality, that are at the basis or root of crime.”
The Coalition was launched in 1990 following a provincial conference on community safety. But things began to take off when the federal government committed $32 million annually for a national crime prevention centre.
With some of that money, she said the Coalition has been able to start on some initiatives around the province. For example, in 100 Mile House, a project coordinator has been hired to assess what resources are in place to deal with youth and children.
In Vernon, a safe women project has been launched to determine ways to make unsafe places safer for women. In Duncan, they’re conducting “safety audits”, looking at such factors as lighting and the availability of public transportation and then making recommendations to local governments and businesses.
And in Fort St. John, following a conference two years ago, efforts are being made to establish a substance abuse treatment program and a youth centre.
As well, some information booklets on crime prevention have been published and some initiatives to deal with the problems of violence against youth and sexual exploitation of youth are being considered.
Grant was also in Dawson Creek this week where a meeting of about 20 people was held. Out of that, she said, came such ideas as holding a forum on poverty came up.
Getting things going here are still much in the preliminary stages. But eventually Grant wants to get something into action. And even then, it can take years before the work pays off.
“It’s long-term and you need patience and tenacity to keep at it, because we’re encouraging people to take a long-term approach,” she said. “And some of the results we may not see for 20 years.”