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East Village Safety Hub to connect uniformed officers with social agencies, outreach work

Located in the basement of the St. Louis Hotel, the new East Village Safety Hub looks more the part of a cool co-working space instead of a police station.

And that’s by design.

The hub, modelled after the success of the Stephen Avenue Safety Hub, is a space for uniformed members of the Calgary Police Service to meet with the agencies and organizations doing vulnerable sector outreach and community work in the East Village. It’s being operated as a three-year pilot project.

“We’re excited to see this program continue to expand into other downtown communities that really need the support,” said Calgary Police Deputy Chief Chad Tawfik.

“This safety hub is not going to be a traditional community police facility. Rather, it’s going to be a space that will enable officers and agency partners to work collaboratively in an area with high calls for service,” he said.

The hub will not have a public-facing desk for citizens. Instead, it’s designed around facilitating those inter-agency meetings. It also provides space for officers to perform administrative tasks and breaks without having to return to the District 1 office in Ramsay.

Still, said Deputy Chief Tawfik, the hub will provide substantial benefits to the public when it opens fully on Aug. 10.

“We know that the visible presence of uniformed officers in the downtown core and in particular, in areas of high calls for service contributes to a safer and more comfortable environment for the community,” he said.

Suppression of crime one outcome from safety hub

Deputy Chief Tawfik said it would also provide benefits to ongoing efforts to suppress criminal activity in the East Village, like that of the organized crime group The Family, which was preying on clients of the near-by Drop-in Centre.

“We are always monitoring the the crime and social disorder activity going on in the East Village,” he said.

“Having a space here to be able to do it will enable our officers to maybe deploy if we run an operation, or things of that nature, so I think it will be beneficial in that regard.”

Ward 7 Councillor Terry Wong said that the East Village Safety Hub would be a key resource for the downtown to ensure that people feel safe, and are safe.

“The safety hub will be a key resource to help to ensure that citizens are safe, our business feels safe, and our people—our visitors especially—feel safe. Whether they come to live, work and play in the downtown and in our East Village area,” he said.

“Here we will be focusing on supporting Calgary’s vulnerable community as well, with a variety of support services, connections to service agencies, and complete wraparound services.”

Hub fits into plans for the East Village

Kate Thompson, President and CEO of CMLC said that the hub fits into the evolving nature of the community.

“It’s really important for CMLC that this safety hub is here on 8 Avenue, right below where we work, actually,” said Thompson.

“This is a full, mixed-use building for the community, and for all the residents of the community,” she said.

Thompson said that CMLC feels, as the stewards for the River District Master plan, that the new safety hub was a welcome complement to the other community safety programs in the area.

Among those community safety programs are those from safety hub partner Alpha House. They operat a team to support the vulnerable sector in the East Village.

“I think the focus here is that it’ll enhance a collaboration between the police and the city partners including bylaw and transit,” said Kathy Christiansen, Executive Director for Alpha House.

“It’s really about just enhancing our ability to respond to these very complex social issues that we see in our community.”