July 12, 2013 12:25 am
Updated: July 12, 2013 12:26 am

Community members encourage safe shopping along Alberta Avenue

The We Believe in 118 Coalition launched the Shop Alberta Ave, Shop Smart Program Thursday, July 11, 2013.

Shannon Greer, Global News
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EDMONTON- A group of Edmontonians has launched a new initiative, aimed at making Alberta Avenue a safer place to shop and do business.

“It is really a way of getting consumers and shoppers connected with the business. And it’s also all about safety, having a safe environment in which to shop, come onto the Avenue, and enjoy the community,” said Joachim Holtz, the executive director of the Alberta Avenue Business Association (AABA).

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The AABA is one member of the We Believe in 118 Coalition, which launched the Shop Alberta Ave, Shop Smart Program Thursday evening. So far 25 businesses along the Avenue have been designated safe under the new program.

“We’ve really liked being a part of this community and I can’t overstate the fact that everyone, business-wise and personal-wise, has been so supportive. So we plan on staying here for a long time,” said Alexei Boldireff, chef and business owner of Swich food truck, one of the approved businesses.

To get the official stamp of approval, businesses must follow a particular set of guidelines, “such as keeping windows free of clutter so you can see inside and out, making sure that walkways within the store are clear, because as we know, more theft will occur if it’s too cluttered inside,” explained Constable Kurtis Hauptman who is part of the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET).

The Shop Alberta Ave, Shop Smart Program is another piece of the overall revitalization of the area, which has been an ongoing, collaborative effort.

“It’s like night and day, what it was like eight, nine, 10 years ago here, not just the streetscape part of it,” said Ward 7 Councillor Tony Caterina. “What’s really, really changed here is the attitude of the community… they’re prepared to do the hard work.

“Things are improving substantially and that’s part and parcel of what happens when the community takes charge of their communities.”

The We Believe in 118 Coalition will be approaching more businesses in the coming months, in hopes of getting them onboard. But so far, Hauptman says the interest from area business owners has been great.

“They see the value in getting the audit done, understanding how they can make their business a safer place to be and contribute to the entire avenue.”

“We want people to find out more about Alberta Avenue and find out that it is really a good community,” added Holtz.

It’s an ideal Boldireff says he’s known for years.

“This is where we live. This is home. And you really need to take care of those around you when it’s your home.”

With files from Shannon Greer, Global News.

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