Overbrook is a family-oriented community, so the Overbrook Community Association is working hard to advance a proactive and reactive crime prevention strategy, along with promoting social inclusion.
Over the past year, your community association has been contributing to a comprehensive youth strategy designed to provide greater educational and recreational opportunities for youth. Working in conjunction with partners, including: school boards, Ottawa Community Housing and the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa, the community under the leadership of the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre (RRCRC) has explored new programming for at-risk youth. We are pleased to state that we are nearing completion of this strategy, which will aim to create proactive solutions to help our young people become better educated, better connected, better employed and better engaged with the community. We believe that working proactively with our youth will help reduce the disproportionate amount of violent gang and street crime that Overbrook experiences.
That is why we were happy to celebrate the official grand opening of the SENS RINK in Overbrook Park on Family Day in February. The SENS RINK provides local kids with access to recreational programs and activities, both in the winter and summer months. The state-of-the-art outdoor rink promotes physical activity, recreation and social development, along with getting youth more active and engaged. Since greater youth engagement is a key goal of our organization and other community partners, the Association is grateful that the Sens Foundation undertook fundraising efforts. The rink was built with sponsorship from the Trinity Development Foundation, which provides philanthropic support for community causes throughout Ottawa. The Association views the rink as vital to providing at-risk youth with additional recreation opportunities, especially during critical hours.
The community association also has worked on reactive strategies to respond to crime in a systematic way. As a result, the Overbrook Community Association is pleased to have recently assisted in the development of a post-incident neighbourhood support protocol for Ottawa. The protocol helps establish clear procedures concerning how community resources can be deployed to help people affected by crime. The protocol was piloted in the Overbrook neighbourhood, through Crime Prevention Ottawa, in partnership, with the RRCRC, and will serve as a model for the rest of the city. Under the protocol, different City agencies and community associations work to collaborate on a collective response immediately after a violent criminal incident has occurred, which culminates in community members being informed in a timely fashion. A major aim of the protocol will also be to provide affected residents with proper health care supports after traumatic incidents.
We were most recently able to test the protocol after violent incidents on Lilas Private in July and in Lawson Park in February. The Association deemed the test pilot a success. Based on the Overbrook pilot, Crime Prevention Ottawa launched the protocol city-wide in early April. Other community organizations will use the protocol as a template for their own customized responses to violent incidents.
Our response to the Lilas Private incident resulted in the establishment of a Free Store, in part funded by the Community Development Framework, which debuted during Overbrook’s successful Annual Garage Sale and Clean Up in May. The Free Store offers second-hand items, from clothing to appliances, at no cost to those in need. The free store concept is a novel approach to promote both sustainability and poverty alleviation in Overbrook, by recycling old household goods, free of charge, to low-income families.
The Association was also pleased to be proactive in promoting social inclusion through a neighbourhood dialogue held in Castle Heights that was facilitated by Mediation Ottawa. We define social inclusion as a process that ensures that: all people feel valued, with their differences respected, and their basic needs met, so they can live in dignity. The dialogue, held in May, acted as a clarion call for our community to actively promote awareness and the reduction of systemic harms including: racism, homophobia, sexism, gender discrimination, classism, xenophobia and religious discrimination.
Through these multiple initiatives, Overbrook continues to work hard to strengthen itself into a safer and more secure neighbourhood.