Working for a safer community
Youth a top priority for new subcommittee

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 18/98) - Helping provide solutions to problems involving youth is one of the primary concerns of the subcommittee to make Yellowknife a safer community, said Dave Nicklen, director of public safety.

Nicklen said the first task the subcommittee must undertake is identifying problem areas in the city.

"We must also focus on identifying who we can assist in alleviating these problems," said Nicklen.

"There's a lot of agencies out there, but, I suppose, they're a lot like everywhere else in that they're understaffed in some respects."

The subcommittee was formed by council in March, 1998, and had its first meeting in June.

Nicklen said the subcommittee includes a good cross-section of representatives from the community, including the chamber of commerce, aboriginal groups, police, both school districts and the general public.

"Basically, you're looking at different organizations from within the city that would have a vested interest in youth and safety.

"With business people, for example, if their window is pounded in or people are afraid to go to their building or store, this has to be addressed."

Coun. Ben McDonald said in creating the subcommittee, city council wanted the community to identify problems and provide potential solutions.

McDonald said a number of community organizations will be consulted to ascertain their roles in dealing with safety issues they see facing the community.

He said the subcommittee will establish its mandate after that, but he doesn't see it delivering its own programs.

"We'll be more of a clearing house or advocacy agency on behalf of people and issues identified as a safety concern," said McDonald.

"Council created a youth committee to focus on youth issues, but there's no doubt one of the primary concerns of the people on this committee focuses on youth."

RCMP Sgt. Marlin Degrand said he thinks the subcommittee could be a valuable tool in addressing some problems concerning Yellowknife youth.

He said 13 of 81 complaints received by the RCMP during the past week involved youth in some manner.

"I'm starting to see youth crop up in our reports with more regularity than I would like," said Degrand.

"It's a trend I don't like and it's certainly a concern."