West Kootenay gets online Neighbourhood Watch
The West Kootenay now has its own Neighbourhood Watch community on Facebook. It was originally just Castlegar Neighbourhood Watch, but the page creator changed the name to provide a wider range and more resources for those using the page – and it already has 375 followers, 336 of whom joined the page just in the past week.
Christopher Stevenson, of Greenwood, started the page to build on the success of the Boundary Neighbourhood Watch page, which he also created, and which currently boasts 1,245 followers on Facebook. So why start such a group for a community in which you don’t even live?
“Well, I guess partially because I work in the area, I had a lot of experience over here when I was in government, and because of the other groups I’ve been working on,” Stevenson said. “I’ve seen what works in the Boundary, and I’m hoping that this area benefits in the same ways.”
He said there’s a laundry list of positive impacts the page can provide.
“Increased awareness of what’s going on, sharing information, the development of community across a large sparsely populated mostly rural area,” he said, adding that, of course, crime prevention is also part of the intent.
“A lady from Christina Lake posted that her relative’s Sidekick was stolen,” he said, explaining people in Rossland saw her Facebook post, spotted the vehicle, and called it in. “And the guy was arrested.”
He said social media absolutely increases the reach and power of efforts like neighbourhood watch.
“It’s pulled people together on public safety issues in the Boundary,” he said. “People are looking out for each other from Christina Lake to the West Boundary. I think this area will benefit from the same idea.”
He said managing the page can sometimes be a challenge, with things like people posting too much information, or allegations that go too far, but the end result is worth the hassle.
“I think that in our region(s), the issue of resourcing policing is a chronic one – and we really need to increase community involvement in public safety,” he said. “Criminals take advantage of the fact that we’re busy in our own lives – somewhat isolated from each other, and from others in our region. They’ll steal a vehicle from one place to go and steal stuff from another place hundreds of kilometres away.”
The West Kootenay page went live about five or six months ago, but only started to catch on this past week – to check it out yourself, head to https://www.facebook.com/groups/888226671195136/?fref=ts