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Wolfville should create independent body to address student partying, report says

A report commissioned by Wolfville was presented to town council this week suggesting the municipality create an independent community safety and wellness society to deal with issues such as student partying.  (CBC - image credit)
A report commissioned by Wolfville was presented to town council this week suggesting the municipality create an independent community safety and wellness society to deal with issues such as student partying. (CBC - image credit)

After a year of work, the Town of Wolfville, N.S., has its first look at a plan to establish a community safety office to address student parties and other nuisance issues in the community.

The Wolfville community safety and wellness study was presented to town council Tuesday by Stephen Schneider, a criminology professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax.

The town commissioned Schneider last April to study potential alternatives to police responding to student parties in the neighbourhoods surrounding Acadia University, which has caused tension in Wolfville for years.

"In a nutshell, the recommendations of my report starts with establishing a non-profit society," Schneider said. Schneider's report proposes the society as a five-year pilot project.

The new organization would be independent from the municipality, Acadia University and RCMP, he said. It would initially employ a community navigator and could potentially add two additional coordinators.

One coordinator would focus on community safety and crime prevention and the other's priority would be social development and wellness, the plan recommends. Both would work with community organizations.

"The two coordinator positions and the two working groups are to work in concert. One tries to minimize crime and nuisance problems from taking place in a particular time and place while this approach addresses root causes. So, they're complementary in the sense," Schneider said.

Very early in the process

Mayor Wendy Donovan said she wouldn't comment on the contents of the 160-page report at this early stage  because it will be months before it goes to council for a vote.

"Our staff are still taking it out and talking to partners and seeing what resonates with the town and our partners and how might we do this going forward," Donovan said in an interview.

The report was scheduled to be presented to officials with Acadia University and RCMP in the coming days, said town staff.

Students from Acadia University took their homecoming celebrations off campus Saturday night, roaming around the town's streets, raising the ire of some in the community and attention from police.
Students from Acadia University took their homecoming celebrations off campus Saturday night, roaming around the town's streets, raising the ire of some in the community and attention from police.

Students from Acadia University took their homecoming celebrations off campus in 2023, roaming around the town's streets, raising the ire of some in the community and attention from police. (Submitted by Angie Jenkins)

Donovan said town staff and council members want to review the report to see what's relevant for Wolfville, what needs to be implemented and how the municipality may have already addressed some of these issues.

The relationship between the town, university and police has improved over the last year to "a level of cooperation and collaboration that we have never previously enjoyed," municipal documents said.

Wolfville's mayor said she wants everyone to work together on any solutions to these issues in the community.

"We continue to be interested in some type of a position in the future that liaises around safety and alcohol harms and so on between Acadia and the town," Donovan said.

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