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Calgary organization hopes to breathe new life into old community watch programs

CALGARY – A local non-profit group is breathing new life into an old neighbourhood watch program.

The community led Block Watch has been slowly disappearing in Calgary communities since 2005; members say there weren’t enough volunteers to scour local neighbourhoods, reporting criminal activity to police and residents.

Now, the Federation of Calgary Communities is beginning a pilot project in three Calgary areas; the program ‘Building Safe Communities’ will begin in Crescent Heights, Rosscarrock, and Southwood this February.

The program is similar to the old Block Watch program with a few modern tweaks.

“We’ll go into some of those communities at a very grass roots level and indicate some of those crime issues, maybe take what worked from block watch to develop new strategies to tackle property crime,” says Leslie Evans, Executive Director at the federation.

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“Some residents have suggested we use social media and maybe try and catch some of these transactions right while they’re occurring.”

The program will begin by bringing together members of the community at meetings offering networking opportunities between neighbours. While monitoring for crime will play a role the group says communication between residents will be key. They will also launch a social media component.

The federation hopes to have another two communities on board by the end of the year. The project is running with a $100,000 budget.  

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