No doubt Peterborough is an amazing city in many many ways as we trumpet all the time here. We live in one of the greatest cities anywhere. But this post isn't about that great stuff. It's about the growing concerns many in the community have about unemployment, drugs (and more drugs), break and enters, robberies, domestics, and safety in the downtown (Exhibit A: man holds knife to a person's throat; Exhibit B: bloodied man with an axe).
Three people have been murdered in the city already this year—the latest earlier this week—and well, people are talking about this stuff and what can be done. Sure there is often a correlation between unemployment and crime, but still, people want answers about what can be done about it and safety in the community.
Cameras downtown and care meters and such are all good to a certain extent, but they are also bandaids. There has to be more effective ways for us to stand up and look after our community, and have each other's backs so to speak. If you allow all these things to fester, they don't just magically go away.
We raised the question on Twitter earlier this week about whether the Mayor's office should consider organizing a Town Hall meeting to bring the police chief, politicians and other community leaders together in one space to create a public forum for citizens to air their concerns, and to hear what our leaders have to say. Do it at the Memorial Centre, do it at the Venue, do it at Trentwinds—just find a space and try it. What's the harm? As one person on Twitter suggested, "The only way to effect change is through action. If the powers that be don't hear people's voices, we'll have more of the same."
Now we asked Mayor Bennett about the idea of a Town Hall meeting and here's what he had to say: "Thanks for the suggestion. The items that you have listed are some of the concerns that the City and Councillors address on a daily basis, and we have a public Committee process in place that is intended to engage people who are concerned about them. My suggestion is to direct concerns to your local Councillors so that they can assist by bringing the questions forward; contact the City Clerk so that you or a group of people can make a presentation to Council; and to take advantage of the currency of the Provincial election to compel some accountability for the many responsibilities that fall within the provincial jurisdiction. If my office can be of help in making any or all of these happen, just let me know."
So is that enough? Can they be doing more? Can we be doing more? What do you think about this notion of a Town Hall meeting? Or is this all being overblown and the same stuff happens in any community?