Atchison says policing can't let up in light of recent crime stats: Affordable, attainable housing can push crime away

Reported by François Biber, NewsTalk 650 CKOM July 26, 2013 - Recent numbers on Saskatoon’s crime rates show a steady decrease, with 12,000 fewer crimes in the city than in 2003. And although these numbers are encouraging, Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison said the efforts from the police force can’t lag.

“Just because those numbers are improving doesn't mean we can put policing to the side and say we're looking after everything now,” Atchison said. “Consequently we have to make sure we stay on top of this and the more we stay on top of these gangs that attempt to move into the city we can send a message right across Canada, that Saskatoon is open for business but 's not open to thugs and criminals.”

Atchison added, the policing concentrated on gang activity have landed many street-level criminal behind bars. He hopes that sends a clear message.

“We have to make sure we keep on top of the gangs and keep them out of Saskatoon. We have them in Saskatoon and it's not long before they end up in jail,” he said.

As crime decreases, on the other hand the city has added 45,000 people since 2003.

Atchison said safe and clean attainable housing in Saskatoon will ultimately help push criminals out of the city.

“That's the basis of a good solid community because people take ownership and the criminals in the community get marginalized,” Atchison said.

At a June 24 city council meeting, the city’s planning department presented a new 10-year plan to build 500 new affordable and attainable units throughout the city at the cost of $2 million.

The city’s last four-year affordable housing program exceeded these expectations, creating a total of 2,534 unites between 2008 and 2012.

“This all boils back to one idea, you need to have a home to live in and not a transient place where you live in it for a month and then you're bumped off to another place,” Atchison said. “What happens eventually is they get their lives turned around and they became part of society.”

City council will vote on the proposed housing plan in December during the 2014 budget deliberations. Copyright Rawlco