How Saskatoon’s mayoral candidates say they’ll improve safety in the city

With Saskatoon marking its 12th homicide of the year last weekend, and a record number of homicides last year, safety in the city is a concern for many.

From moving The Lighthouse, to tackling drug problems and bringing in more police, mayoral candidates have different solutions for safety.

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Don Atchison said he wants to see more police hired, and more patrols in higher crime areas.

He adds The Lighthouse is an issue and has been tasked with too much to help the city’s vulnerable. He wants to see it moved out of the downtown, and he said there would be transportation to bring people to the new location.

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“I’ve been talking to the people in The Lighthouse about it … I think we’ve been able to come to an agreement on a certain location or locations that it could be,” he said.

Charlie Clark is seeking reelection. He says strengthening Saskatoon’s police, tackling mental health and addictions issues and addressing homelessness will make the city safer.

He wants to continue a new city pilot project started last month led by the Saskatoon Tribal Council called Sawêyihtotân, which works with people on the streets to help them find housing.

He wants to continue work on phase 2 of the project, which would bring together the Saskatoon Tribal Council, the city, police, fire, business leaders, and the ministries of social services and health.

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“We haven’t been able to get that collaborative approach with the right ministries to be able to jointly recognize what’s not working,” he said.

“The mayor plays a key role in convening those partners together and getting a commitment to fix what’s not working.”

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Candidate Rob Norris said he wants experts brought in to evaluate The Lighthouse to see where the issues are, and what the best way to fix those problems are, which he said could mean moving some services to another location.

He wants to work with Indigenous groups to understand the challenges they face with police in the city. He said he also wants more done to done to tackle drugs in the city.

Canada’s only synchrotron is at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon, and he said those machines are used in drug investigations in the United States.

“There can be a really significant research initiative. Where are the drugs coming from? How do we help not simply understand it but stop these drugs, and that’s where we need to really support our police,” he said.

Candidate Mark Zielke said he has a plan to move lighthouse operations to five different locations and review the police budget.

“I believe that we should be looking at all our budget lines so that we can put resources where they’re needed,” he said.

Read more: Saskatoon police combat violence, homicide record and call increase in 2019

Meanwhile, candidate Zubair Sheikh said he stands firm on not touching the police budget.

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“We have to deal with the high intensity of the crime in Saskatoon, so of course we need more policing and we need more training for the police,” he said, giving the example of racial bias training.

Candidate Cary Tarasoff said he wants to make it easier for the city to demolish boarded up properties, which would help reduce social problems.

“If the City out more effort into this area, disenfranchised people would feel pride,” he wrote in a press release Friday afternoon.

“Many view these neighborhoods as a dumping ground for anything and everything that the City wants to ignore.”

Saskatoon’s civic election is Nov. 9.

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