Women’s safety audit of ‘scary, rundown’ Le Village area

Discussing the women's safety audit are, clockwise from bottom right, Cornwall Police Staff Sgt. Kurt Fraser; Jillian Reed, volunteer with Youth Leaders in Action and SASS; Kim Luttich, Canada World Youth volunteer; Project Supervisor David Arsenault. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – A safety audit of the streets around Le Village has left the community with some work to do.

The audit by 27 people was done in collaboration with Canada World Youth and the Youth International Cooperation Development Center, with support from Sexual Assault Support Services for Women of SDG&A and community members.

The final report was released Thursday afternoon during a Canada World Youth wrap-up brunch at the Agape Center.

The survey – both personal observations and interviews with local residents – covered an area from Marlborough to Belmont Streets and from the waterfront north to First Street.

The recommendations in the report call for stricter enforcement of bylaws for property upkeep, public awareness campaigns to make properties safer, more ideas to build a sense of community in Le Village and making the Montreal Road police station a 24-hour service.

Surveyors used words like “scary, rundown, dirty and poor” in describing their overall impression of the area. They also pointed to a lack of lighting on private property.

The group did feel there was a lot of foot and commercial traffic and there was a good chance someone would hear you if you screamed for help.

Other concerns were back yards of homes that had only one exit, as well as garbage and debris and limited police hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Montreal Road police station.

The group also noted what it called “a lack of positive community vibe” with signs around the area such as “no trespassing”, “do not enter”, “private property” and “keep out.”

As for the waterfront trail, the surveyors found it isolated (which could be been due to the time of year). They said the path was well maintained and lighted but it was “extremely secluded.” The group noted a lack of access paths and said it would be quite a long way for a woman to flee from an attacker before getting to an access point.

The group is calling for more signage, access paths, emergency phones and more police presence along the waterfront trail.

Staff Sgt. Kurt Fraser, in charge of Cornwall police community patrols, sat down with the group to talk about its findings.

Fraser tells Cornwall Newswatch he’s still taking some time to digest the entire report but he responded to the concerns about access to police at the Montreal Road station.

“I discussed certain topics. The bike path, lighting, locations. I know that they mentioned things that should be brought forward to the city regarding building permits, signage, which I think that’s really important but that isn’t our area. Our area is more security. Policing the Montreal Road station, being more visible, the CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras in those areas,” Fraser said.

“We have officers in those zones and we have them do all of their work from the community service office on Montreal Road so there are officers there at night. There’s also a call box at the station that anyone 24 hours a day can pick and they get direct contact with our communications service,” he said.

The report will be passed on to Staff Sgt. Brian Snider, in charge of the east end station.

Jillian Reed, a volunteer with Youth Leaders in Action and SASS, hopes that other stakeholder groups will take up the recommendations in the report.

“I just hope that people here look at these recommendations and say, yeah, like this is important. From the response that I’ve had from people today I feel like other people are seeing these things and do think they’re important,” Reed said.

“The community feeling isn’t coming from the outside perspective. That’s from people from Cornwall, they’ve lived in this neighbourhood and they’re saying ‘If something’s happening to me, my neighbour’s not going to come help me,’” she stated.

Reed says the biggest issue that jumped out of the report was the people’s concept of community. “In this community, the feeling of community, it feels like it’s just not there at all.”

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