A whole new slate of officers has been named to serve the west end, including Carlington, and they may or may not ever work out of a revived police centre, residents learned at a Jan. 9th meeting of the Carlington Community Association.
Police want to get a committee together with community representatives to study their options and the wider neighbourhood's needs before they commit to a location, or to a volunteer-based centre at all, said the new west end superintendent, Peter Crosby.
Discussions went on all fall on several offers of locations to replace the Westgate Centre which closed in September. “We were advised in November that the police had four or five probable sites they were looking at and would probably make a final decision in the new year,” said CCA President Jim MacLean. “For the month after that, I was hearing conflicting stories so I decided to invite the police to our executive meeting.”
One location apparently turned down was on Merivale Road. Chief Vincent Bevan told MacLean that he took responsibility for rejecting a site adjacent to an XXX video outlet, “not an acceptable location for a Community Police Centre.”
Location is far from the only issue, however. “Volunteer renewal,” a complete re-examination of what volunteers do for the police service, led to a city-wide moratorium on volunteer recruitment that was only lifted Dec. 15, Supt. Crosby told the CCA group. “We applied a risk assessment to all positions and now every job has a job description; people in the community can apply for volunteer jobs the same as for a regular staff position.” His thinking now is that “if we're looking at a police centre, it has to link up to our front end services and to the most important issues in your community... we don't want to reduce service in this area, but we do want to provide the best service.”
Added Inspector Ralph Erfle, “Neighbourhood officers could work with volunteers to resolve community issues without being consumed by the administration of an office. The average cost of a police centre is $79,000 a year, while problems and issues move around. We wonder if we could effectively use those officers and other space to work with volunteers to achieve the same goal.”
Staff Sergeant Shamus Hall will put together a broadly representative group to advise the police on next steps. This group will include association representatives and ‘key neighbours' from the entire area formerly served by the Westgate centre, including Hampton-Iona and Island Park as well as Carlington.
CCA secretary and former police centre volunteer Terry Dooley pointed out that there are many seniors at 1400 Lepage who would welcome a centre in their building. She believes that Ottawa Housing could make one of its Lepage Avenue apartment units available for the police.
Dooley, along with former Carlington Crime Prevention Council chair Keith Reid and CCA president Jim MacLean, have volunteered to serve on the consultation group that will examine the police service options.
MacLean says he is keeping an open mind. “Did the police centre serve its purpose at Westgate? Did you see cruisers in our area? I would like a centre but I'd like to see cars on the road too. I'd like to see officers out and about in the community.”
Other residents are welcome to come forward for the short-term working group and should contact Staff Sergeant Shamus Hall at 236-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Temporary Sidewalk for Merivale Road
Just as walkers to Baseline Road had given up all hope of a safe sidewalk, a temporary route was put in place in early December. Although it was impossible to pour concrete in the sub-freezing temperatures, the contractor has used cold-patch asphalt to create a 1.5 metre wide sidewalk. In response to prompting from the Carlington Community Association, Joyce Crothers of Councillor Wendy Stewart's office followed up with the contractor and assured CCA President Jim MacLean that ?the temporary sidewalk will be replaced with a 2 metre concrete sidewalk as soon as weather permits in the spring of 2001.
MacLean also asked why the Region had installed a median along that section of Merivale Road. According to Crothers, “The primary reason... is safety. Before the Central Park development, of the 25 automobile collisions that occurred (in 1996 and 1997) on this roadway section, seven (28%) could have been prevented by a median barrier.” Since traffic turning in and out of Central Park increases the risk of collision, the median was “a prudent and easy choice.”
More consultation needed before taking out Westgate speed hump: Region
A November request from the Carlington Community Association to remove the speed hump on Merivale just north of Westgate isn't enough by itself to get action, according to staff in Councillor Wendy Stewart's office.
The hump “was installed at the direction of Council, and instructions from Council would be required to remove it,” wrote Joyce Crothers in an e-mail to CCA President Jim MacLean in December. "While there is a chance that a public hearing would also be required, at the very least it would be appropriate to conduct some consultation with the community groups that were integrally involved in the planning process leading to the installation of the traffic calming devices in this neighbourhood.”
The CCA was not consulted on the original installation of the Westgate hump, perhaps since it is technically not in Carlington. “I will be following up with Councillor Shawn Little to see what community groups in Island Park were involved and what their views are now,” said MacLean.
On a more hopeful note, the e-mail from Stewart's office also pointed out that the consultant who studied traffic measures in 2000 recommended phasing out “vertical traffic calming measures” such as the speed hump on roads that would be designated as part of “an emergency response route network.”