enlists help to keep Pickering clean
Danielle Milley and Mike Ruta - Staff Writers
PICKERING -- Pickering wants your eyes.
The City launched Eyes on the Street this week, a new campaign to help clean up the community. Chantal Whitaker, Pickering's co-ordinator of environmental awareness programs, told councillors that too often people become accustomed to seeing litter, graffiti, vandalism and illegally dumped materials. She wants residents, businesspeople and students to be on the lookout for it in their own neighbourhood and when walking or driving around Pickering. If someone notices a problem they are asked to contact the City and report it, "so they feel like they are part of the solution.
"We want to make it as easy as possible for our residents and our students and our local businesses to get involved."
Working with Durham Region Police, Ms. Whitaker says tagging or gang-related graffiti will be photographed before its removed to be used as part of a database for the police. Detective Constable Steve Linn, who attended Monday's council meeting for the program launch, says that work will be of great help to police.
"By us getting a hold of the photographs, it helps us to identify any active gangs in the area, because gangs use graffiti to communicate," he said.
Pickering wants to tackle the problem before it leads to more instances of illegal behaviour. As well, these issues may impact on the City's natural environment and make Pickering look shabby.
Ward 3 City Councillor David Pickles encouraged Ms. Whitaker to visit and seek the help of community associations, noting residents involved in them are generally more active in the community. She replied that process is underway.
Maurice Brenner, the City's Ward 1 Regional Councillor, noted the community safety audits he and City Councillor Kevin Ashe have instituted in Ward 1 could become "an integral part" of Eyes on the Street.
Richard Holborn, Pickering's head of municipal property and engineering, said those walkabouts with residents, who relayed issues that were of concern, in particular in local parks, could have a "smaller but similar role" in the program. Mr. Holborn said he would soon report back to the councillors who could in turn tell Amberlea residents where progress has been made.
Council members endorsed Eyes on the Street and encouraged residents to make it work.
"If you see a crime, you have to report it. If you don't no one will know about it and it won't be taken care of," said Ward 2 Regional Councillor Bill McLean.
He would like to see each report identified with an incidence number to help keep track of what is happening and where.
Reports can be made by calling 1-877-420-4666, e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting cityofpickering.com/eyesonthestreet. The latter features an online reporting form that can also be downloaded and faxed to customer care at 905-420-4610.