A city councillor is weighing in on the good news of the province's investment in Portage la Prairie's community and safety well-being. Last week, $110,000 was announced for our city's several pilot projects, and safety chair and councillor Sharilyn Knox notes we're fortunate to be one of the 12 recipient communities.

She explains the council, including herself, has lobbied for this for quite some time. 

"We know that there are issues in our city when it comes to crime and resources," notes Knox. "This is a program where we assess our city. We figure out what our needs are. We figure out what resources we have, and then from there, we can direct our efforts to make sure that we have what we need in our community."

Knox notes Wawokiya is one of several organizations that will benefit. 

"A community safety well-being plan looks at everything," notes Knox. "It looks at what our recreation opportunities are. It looks at our police force. It looks at our mental health resources. So, Wawokiya and community mobilization is something that will be looked at as part of this program, but it's not the only element, if that makes sense."

She says the RCMP force located in our city is excellent, and resources for that organization have to be adequate. Knox says there may be other resources unavailable that have to be worked on.

"We have amazing volunteer programs like our C.O.P.P, program," continues Knox. "We have our Bear Clan -- those types of things. Public safety is not just those type of things, it's everyone involved. It's making sure that we as a community look out for each other. Recently, there's been an increase in bike thefts because it's spring, and that's what always happens. This means making sure that people understand that they need to have their bikes secured. But it also means, as neighbours, we look out for each other. You're driving by and you see your neighbour's kids' bikes laying in their driveway. Maybe they got called in for dinner. Maybe they got called to do something else, and you think, 'Wow, I should let my neighbour know.' So, you walk in and you say, 'Hey, just so you know, your bikes are laying out there.' That's what we need to do."

Knox says we need to all be involved in community safety. 

She explains that if you had a family member who perhaps took a path and became addicted to a drug, but they decided to make a life change, the city learns the resources aren't available to facilitate that.

"We don't have the addiction supports, or maybe we don't have a bed ready for them," continues Knox. "That's what this plan is going to look at. Where are the gaps in our services? When people want help, we want to be able to help them. Thompson is a great example of this. They just did a community safety and well-being plan, and the involvement in that community is something to look at because their business community is greatly involved."

Knox stresses that the province is supporting the funding for different services, but Thompson is really seeing the business community step up.

"The business community is funding recreation programs now, because they understand that having the youth involved in meaningful activities is going to help them when it comes to choosing the life of crime or not," adds Knox. "We want to see everyone be a part of this process to understand it and to be a part of the solution."

She says she's personally been involved with pushing for this for an entire year already. 

"We're not going to have the solutions to everything, but as a community, we have to feel that we're working towards them, right?" asks Knox. "And it's because people need to understand that it is a community as a whole. It's not a one-person problem. We tend to forget that the law-abiding and the non-addicted population are the majority. We need to have a louder voice and we need to make our community welcoming for people, welcoming for people to move here."