We should all get to know our neighbours

Photo of a typical Neighbourhood Watch Brampton activation meeting

Neighbourhood Watch Brampton delegated at the July 31, 2019 meeting of the Brampton Community Safety Advisory Committee. Here is what we said:

Neighbourhood Watch Brampton at its core is a community engagement and crime prevention education program. We help residents build more connected neighbourhoods.

Neighbourhood Watch Brampton is one of a number of programs run by Brampton Focus Community Media, our umbrella non-profit organization that was registered four years ago. Brampton Focus also runs Harmonize.ca, a provincially funded diversity and inclusion awareness program. We are also developing Seniorstownhall.ca, a federally funded program for seniors to help seniors across the city with information about issues that affect them. In addition, we provide community media engagement for other non-profit groups and causes that can’t afford traditional media coverage or expensive ads. We live stream and cover events to help our residents reach a larger audience. 

Along with producing hundreds of informational videos, content and townhalls, we have live streamed the Brampton Santa Claus Parade for 3 consecutive years, one year through a partial blackout, organized and executed the City Building Mayoral Debate at the Rose Theatre last Fall at 100% of our cost and free to residents. The community media work we do is all possible by dedicated volunteers, community sponsors and organizations, and student interns who we pay through the federal Canada Summer Jobs grants program.

Some of our interns are here now and another team is assisting with the city’s Nurturing Neighbourhoods program at the Flower City Seniors Rec Centre. We have allocated our interns primarily in community building initiatives including with the City of Brampton through their Vision 2040 Nurturing Neighbourhood initiative, although we had hoped to start implementing our Neighbourhood Watch roll-out plan since June. 

The best way to learn about the program is to join it. There is a tablet going around where you can easily do just that. We are still working out some technology issues, so you will receive the first email tomorrow.

The security and privacy of your contact information is paramount to us. It will not be used for anything other than communication by Neighbourhood Watch Brampton for neighbourhood and city issues. Our plan is to enhance the current program, especially with on-boarding videos to involve more community members and in multiple languages. We will start with Punjabi as this has been a key request from the community and it is also the most common non-official language spoken at home by residents.

Among us are engaged and active community advocates that have worked with us for years now. I’ll highlight Ivan Macri who has consistently volunteered in his community to make our city better. When we first met, Ivan was already doing what our program tries to do across the city. He had organized his neighbourhood and was sharing advice, content and supporting his neighbours in any way he could. We encouraged Ivan to complete the Peel Police Crime Prevention Academy and our team is excited to have Ivan’s input and help again.

And Nikki Cedrone. Nikki stepped up to launch Neighbourhood Watch Snelgrove and loved the program so much, she is now on our Board overseeing it. This is what Neighbourhood Watch Brampton is all about… finding and empowering the Ivan’s and the Nikki’s across the city to make our neighbourhoods better.

Earlier this month, by an 11-0 vote, council approved to fund Neighbourhood Watch Brampton for a 6-month expansion, with a funding grant of up to $150,000.  Our goal is to ensure the success of this program and are working closely with staff to be transparent with costs and value for money. We are taxpayers as well.

In Mississauga, their Safe City Program works with a budget of over $500,000, supported by both their city and our Region to compliment the services of Peel Police. Our city has failed for the past 4 years, until now, to organize investment in a community crime prevention program.  This is why the Mayor of Mississauga is constantly promoting her city as the Safest Big City in Canada, where fortune 500 companies come to invest.

Safe cities need a positive self-image. Do we have that? We certainly have all of the ingredients for success.

We are in an era of provincial downloading. Yet crime prevention education and engagement is a municipal funding responsibility that has been off the municipal budget for 4 years and that Brampton Focus Community Media has exclusively supported. 

We fully expect the program and how it is administered to evolve. The program as currently designed is nimble, efficient and effective in crime prevention education, but it requires an unbelievable amount of volunteer support. And this is unsustainable without external funding.

A few vocal critics are on the attack and actively working against us. Not surprising, non of them bothered to be here today. We challenge all of them to create a better program. One which is self-funded for 3 years and can grow after that without any municipal investment. Because that is what they advocate.

The budget included in your agenda package is a working plan based on experience running our non-profit program, condensed to a 6-month plan that was to have started in June 2019. We have already adjusted the plan and the deliverables based on where we are now, which is 3 weeks away from having our students go back to school.

We invite members of this committee and attendees to join Neighbourhood Watch Brampton. We also encourage every Councillor to invite us to events that you will be hosting over the next 5 months. 

Neighbourhood Watch is an investment in:

  • the fabric of our community
  • an investment in the positive profile and optics of a vibrant and welcoming Brampton
  • an investment in the safety and connectivity of our residents in a grass roots all encompassing and engaging way that has yet to be realized 

And it is an investment in the positive future of our great City as we bring together residents of all background, faiths, languages to take Brampton to the next step, based on safety and motivating neighbourhoods who see this as a call to action of those “who watch,… and care” about our great city of Brampton.

We should all get to know our neighbours, and make OUR city the safest in Canada.  Are you in?

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