SASKATOON,SK–July 25/2019-*0726 news pleasant hill – Str8-Up director Shane Partridge expressed the need for a comprehensive provincial gang strategy to combat the recent increase in gang-related violence and crime in the Pleasant Hill neighbourhood in Saskatoon, SK on Thursday, July 25, 2019.
Matt Smith / Saskatoon StarPhoenix
The latest national crime severity statistics provide further evidence of the need for action in the Pleasant Hill community that faces gang and crystal methamphetamine struggles daily, say members of the Saskatoon neighbourhood.Shane Partridge, safety coordinator for the Pleasant Hill Community Association and a member of the Okihtcitawak Patrol Group, says the time for discussion is over. He wants to see action to combat the root issues of violence in the community.“We need to start paying attention to the residents and the people of our city and looking after them the way that they really need to be looked after,” he said Thursday at the constituency office of NDP MLA David Forbes.“We are past the point where we can just ignore this and have any more meetings. We really need to start addressing these things.”According to the national Crime Severity Index (CSI) numbers released Monday by Statistics Canada, Saskatoon in 2018 dropped to fourth out of 35 census metropolitan areas in the index but little changed year-over-year in the severity of crime measured.This year, there have already been eight homicides, with a ninth death described by police as suspicious but not officially ruled a homicide. Three of those deaths occurred between June 30 and July 5, all in Pleasant Hill. Police have increased their presence in the area as a result.Saskatoon police Insp. Cam McBride, who oversees the central division that includes Pleasant Hill, said recently that nearly one-third of violent crimes in the city happen within the Pleasant Hill area.Partridge said he wants more support services provided to youth in the community. He and other members of community organizations have been advocating for a drop-in centre open later than 6 or 7 p.m.Partridge also sits on the board of directors of Str8 Up. Last year, the organization secured a federal grant that allowed it to hire someone to create a framework for a provincial gang strategy. Saskatchewan received $11.9 million of a five-year, $214 million commitment from the federal government to be put toward combating gun and gang violence. Str8 Up wants a portion of that money to go toward implementing its framework.“We need to start investing into these communities in a more equitable way that allows the youth to flourish instead of having to witness murders, robberies, home invasions. This isn’t normal,” Partridge said.NDP Leader Ryan Meili said he wants to see work done to mitigate factors that influence crime, including increased support for those living with mental health issues or addiction. He called for the creation of a poverty reduction strategy, as well as designated primary and emergency services for those experiencing mental health crises.Meili pointed to crystal meth and its associated health issues, specifically, calling the drug “a scourge in our communities.” More needs to be done to address the root causes of addiction, he said.“When we look at what’s driving addition and what’s driving crime in this neighbourhood, it is directly related to poverty,” he said. “It is directly related to the marginalization of Indigenous people, directly related to the way people have been excluded.”firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated