The story is the same throughout Alberta… the economy… cut backs… costs more… no longer available… no longer provided. It is tough times in Alberta. For a NFP (not for profit) charity not only has ENW seen a decline in financial support but also in partnerships and sponsorships.
Early in 2016, ENW experienced this quite profoundly. Our long time partnership with AMA had come to an end. For many years AMA provided those familiar orange Neighbourhood Watch signs for communities at no cost. But because of the economic downturn AMA could no longer support the initiative. We appreciate all the years of support that AMA had provided and certainly understood their decision. It seemed the Neighbourhood Watch Sign Program was about to become another casualty of the economy.
The loss was significant to ENW as we could not afford to manufacture the signs. So, with no signs there could be no program. An initial response from some communities was to buy the signs. However, that solution didn’t fit within our mission and it would not support communities that could not afford to buy their own signs. At ENW we agreed that this was a program that we would try to save for those communities with a Neighbourhood Watch program. So, how would we find a new sponsor in this economy? What business or organization could take on that type of financial partnership? Then we realized that we would first need to look carefully at the program and how it works. What could we do better?
The signs say, “We report all suspicious activities to police”. But is that true? Do the residents in those neighbourhoods do that? Some do, but most don’t. Most neighbourhoods have had those signs for years, some for decades. Do the new residents in that area know what they mean? We heard from public consultation that some people thought those orange signs were only in “bad” neighbourhoods. We had some work to do on the “image” of those signs. The decision was to redevelop the program and address 5 key areas:
- Find a sponsor to manufacture the signs.
- Develop a similar program to launch in 2017.
- Develop a program that makes the message on the sign TRUE.
- Develop a program that identifies neighbourhoods with a Neighbourhood Watch program.
- Provide messaging about what the signs mean.
After much hard work and a lot of meetings, I am happy to say that we are well on our way. In the fall of 2016, ENW developed a new program in consultation with The City of Edmonton Traffic Operations and with input from EPS. Traffic Operations has agreed to manufacture the signs and continue to install them as they have done in the past. ENW will handle all requests and continue to manage the program.
We are excited to announce the new program will launch in early 2017. Program information will be available on the ENW website in February.
Until next time…
Debbie Sellers, ENW