Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
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This article was published 9/8/2011 (3260 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Dozens of worried residents sought answers from public safety officials Tuesday night after a recent rash of arsons and violence in the city.
With a suspect in the Fort Rouge arsons behind bars, the topic quickly switched to nearby Osborne Village, which has just seen its own rash of crime.
Village resident Jason van Rooy, who came out to the meeting at Bethel Mennonite Church, said he wished there was a greater police cadet presence on the Village's streets, in light of a homicide, a fight between two men involving a squeegee and a robbery with a knife, all within the past week.
Winnipeg police Staff Sgt. Kelly Dennison had a blunt answer for van Rooy.
"I can give you the politically correct answer or I can just tell you straight up," he began, then asked the group of about 65 people which they preferred.
"Both!" people chanted.
Dennison went on to explain that because the city and province share the cadet program's costs, the police force only has the authority to deploy them in certain places.
"When you have a partnership-funded program, you tend to have the authority to have them in certain places only. Right now, the City of Winnipeg is going through what is called a downtown safety plan. I'm sorry to tell you that the area you live in does not --" Dennison paused. "You don't live in the downtown safety plan," he finished.
The recent arsons only came up now and then during the meeting, which consisted of the group of residents, who were all middle-aged or older, asking their questions to a panel of two policemen and one firefighter.
Paul Hesse, the Liberal candidate for Fort Rouge, organized the meeting and served as moderator.
"I didn't learn anything I didn't already know," said Margaret Rose Thompson, on her way out, adding she would have liked to have been given some statistics on arson. "They didn't come out with any stats, like how many fires were started in blue boxes?" she asked.
Another concerned resident called for a revision of the building code to force garages to be built out of less flammable materials.
One man said he was disappointed there weren't more young people attending. George Jarvis said he hopes for a more youthful turnout at a similar meeting tonight at 7 at the Earl Grey Community Centre.
But Hesse said the community is feeling reassured now a suspect in the arsons has been arrested.
"I think the community's feeling relief because there was an arrest and the arson seems to have stopped," Hesse said. "There's also sort of a wait-and-see approach... You never know."
Other topics varied widely. One German shepherd breeder made the case for police officers using the canine unit more often. A horticulturist complained about kids burning marijuana.
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Updated on Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 4:20 PM CDT: Changed wording in seventh paragraph to clarify