Town Hall Celebration

town hallOn March 18, 2010, and community participants held the town hall meeting on 90 Street and 118 Avenue. This intersection is situated beside the Dollar Store – the hub of weapon and drug paraphernalia sales on 118 Ave. The purpose of this gathering was to celebrate the accomplishments to date and make one more community appeal to the businesses that ignored the request.

We Believe in 118 pulled together quite the event with a donated professional stage and sound system, live music, visual performing artists and free coffee and hot chocolate for the community. We ran into a situation where businesses as far from the community as the South and West ends of the city refused to accept money for event supplies. Generators, water, power cords, coffee… everything was donated by businesses though out the city who believe in 118 Avenue and saw the benefits of the reduced availability of weapons and drug paraphernalia in community.

Weapons For Sale

weaponOne afternoon, while in the Alberta Ave community, the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team came across and confiscated a machete concealed by a 12 year-old youth. More alarming than this find was the discovery of where the young man allegedly purchased the weapon … a local store. With a sense of disbelief the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team ventured toward the store only to find that the accusation was true. Glass (crack) pipes, scales, grinders, and most disturbing, hundreds of weapons – ranging from throwing knives to machetes – all of which could be purchased alongside household necessities like food and cleaning supplies. All of these items could be found in this local shop on 118th Ave.

This story was brought to community stakeholders at a meeting organized immediately after this incident. The response from those around the table was loud and clear – this initiative, whatever it may be, must come from the business community. This wisdom put NET on the business doorsteps of 118 Avenue, raising the concern and asking that a coalition be formed to discuss possible solutions. From this organizing, We Believe in 118 was born. A community coalition consisting of the Alberta Avenue Business Association, 118 Avenue business owners, the Avenue Revitalization Initiative, and the NETeam – all committed to working together towards a safer community.

Letter to Businesses

letters to businessOver the past year We Believe in 118 has been working to reclaim the Avenue as a drug paraphernalia and weapons-free zone. Since the committee’s inception in November 2010, an action plan has been formulated and acted on.

On February 2, 2010 a letter from the committee was sent, via registered mail, to the 6 businesses in the community selling drug paraphernalia and/or weapons. The letter asked that the businesses voluntary stop selling this harmful material and work with We Believe in 118. The businesses were asked to respond to the committees request within the week. During this period, N.E.T. acted as the We Believe in 118 liaison and made contact with the 6 businesses frequently.