When the City of Yorkton held its ‘think tank’ to envision the city moving forward over the next 20 years, one of the desires set forth was for the community to be a safe one.
That was hardly a shocking suggestion. No community is going to say it would want something other than greater safety.
What the forum, a cross-section of people from the community, did not answer in any detail was how to achieve that lofty goal.
It's a looming question in Yorkton today, during an era when violent crime in the city is on the rise even as crime rates drop across most of the country.
This week in Yorkton marks the anniversary of the murder of a gas station attendant while on the job one night. The senseless end to Jimmy Wiebe’s life -- which is being remembered with a vigil at Western Financial City Centre Park tonight starting at 9 p.m. -- brought that into stark focus for our city.
The 2003 death of James Hayward at the hand of Kim Walker is another case which speaks to violence happening here, going beyond the manslaughter conviction of Walker, to include the seedy world of drugs his daughter was part of with the dead man.
So for Yorkton to find ways to reduce crime is something close to home for many residents.
That is what the new Hub initiative in the city will attempt to do in the years to come.
Created in response to a provincial paper entitled "Building Partnerships to Reduce Crime," the Hub (see page A1) is a collaborative approach to being proactive in helping those at risk of falling into criminal activities.
The Hub, being a group of individuals representing a wide range of groups dealing with various aspects of concern, mental health, addictions, education and the RCMP among them, can discuss a particular individual’s circumstances and dispatch the appropriate agency to help them.
The idea of groups tearing down some of the walls between them and focusing less on maintaining their own jurisdictional control in favour of working with others to help those at risk is encouraging.
The program, initiated in mid April, has already dealt with nearly 30 individuals, and group member RCMP Sergeant Rob Laurent has stated, “All have been very successful.”
Laurent said he is convinced the Hub can act as a way to prevent crime. As an example he cited the Kim Walker murder case.
“I do not believe we would have had the Kim Walker incident (had the Hub existed),” he said. He explained that through the Hub it would have been likely Walker's daughter would have found the help she sought before the matter escalated.
If the Hub has that sort of impact moving forward it will go a long way toward achieving the goal of Yorkton being a safe community.