- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Councillor Jon Farmer  offered this in New Business at Owen Sound city council tonight.  Perhaps this kind of thinking is the reason Farmer received more votes than anyone else running in the last municipal election here.

"We’ve heard a lot of conversations over the past month about safety in our community. Sharif’s murder rightfully catalyzed many conversations, especially about the safety of our downtown. People are passionate and concerned. We’ve heard calls for immediate responses,  and we do have to respond. But as we wrestle with how to move forward, I want to take a moment here to highlight that our conversations about safety need to include everyone. If we talk about safety for only one subset of our community then we will fail to create spaces and a city that are actually safe and promote wellbeing for all. 

To paraphrase Jane Jacobs from her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, successful streets make a safety asset out of the presence of strangers by making sure that there are eyes on the street and that means the street must have people on it fairly continuously.

How we attract people and create a welcoming and engaging environment is our collective challenge as a council but also as a corporation in partnership with other organizations and individuals from the community at large. We know that the community is eager for conversations about safety because other groups are already organizing them. The Chamber of Commerce is hosting a meeting tonight and Rebound Owen Sound is hosting a conversation about community safety on September 19.

As we figure out next steps to supporting downtown and all who visit, live and work here, we need to make sure that we are tireless in our support of downtown and that we do not abandon it. It’s up to all of us to take every reasonable opportunity to fill downtown with people, to enjoy the public spaces along the river, waterfront, market and parks, and to frequent the businesses and nonprofits that make both the downtown and our community as a whole a vibrant place to live. If the community abandons downtown - if we let fear win - we will be making the situation worse. "



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