The City of Weyburn continues to be a safe city in which to live and raise a family, said police Chief Marlo Pritchard, following the presentation of the 2011 Annual Police Report.
Chief Pritchard had a caveat on the annual report, in that he was not the chief, but noted with the numbers continuing into 2012 he was quite clear that the city was and is a safe community in which to live.
Asked the question by Coun. Dick Michel, the chief replied, “Absolutely, it’s a very safe community. There are issues, such as there is a transient population.”
He added in his experience as a police officer, Weyburn is not a violent community, and while there are challenges from the transient population, he and his members are working through those challenges.
One indicator that Weyburn is not violent is the crime severity index, which is a weighted measure of crime in the community; for example, homicide would be weighted more than break-and-enter would be.
According to this index, the crime severity index went down by 16 per cent in 2011 from the previous year, and the index as far as violent crimes go went down 3.5 per cent.
The calls for service increased in 2011, but Chief Pritchard noted it was partly due to a change in the system by which the city police records crime statistics. The number of calls in 2011 was 5,648, up from 4,778 in 2010.
Drinking and driving offences dropped slightly in 2011, 82 driving suspensions compared to 88 the year before, and 76 impaired drivers compared to 82 the year before.
The numbers of offences dealt with in court was lower in 2011, but the chief noted partly this was due to a recent emphasis on pre-court mediation, where some offences are diverted from being dealt with in court, and the offender deals with the offence in an alternate way, such as with community service hours.
Council heard an update on the process of amalgamating the Weyburn Arts Council with the City of Weyburn under the Leisure Services department, a process that has been underway since June 2012.
Leisure Services director Mathew Warren has been working with the Arts Council since June on the amalgamation, including working on the 2013 budget, and working on the terms and responsibilities each party will have.
According to the report given council, the amalgamation will take effect as soon as January 2013.
Coun. Nancy Styles stated, as the city’s representative for the Arts Council, that she believes this is a great plan to assist the Arts Council.
A group of rental investors are looking at Weyburn to begin a new development, council was told in an update from the Weyburn Housing Advisory Committee.
In the report, Martino Verhaeghe, director of planning, advised of the potential new development by Dorcas-New Rock Development. The rental investors are interested in developing 3.5 to four acres, and are looking to the Housing Advisory committee for direction on what type of housing is needed most, affordable housing or rental properties.
After discussing the project, the committee agreed that rental properties are more of a necessity than affordable housing, “as we are seeing a good supply of affordable housing going up at Fifth and Fifth, as well as other locations in Weyburn.”
The committee hoped that the South Hill would be a good location for this development, but other locations are also being considered.
The advisory committee made the following recommendations, that the city makes land available depending on a large project, with four 12-suite rentals which are at least 850 square feet each, and that there be the inclusion of a daycare facility or assisted living centre in the plan.
Council also heard there will be a meeting on the Habitat for Humanity on Nov. 29, where the hope is to develop a business plan so that the project for a Humanity house in Weyburn can move ahead.