The views he enjoys from his new Turtle Mountain home are spectacular for transplanted Calgarian Gary Hack.
The city view, the fact there are lakes, golf courses and ski hills, all within an easy drive from the home he shares with his wife, Sally, and the fact that everybody in the North Okanagan he encountered seemed to be having fun, appealed to Hack as he and his wife were looking for a new B.C. home after his retirement three years ago from the Bank of Montreal.
When the Hacks moved into their Turtle Mountain retirement haven, there were about 10 to 12 occupied homes. And, while walking around the quiet cul-de-sacs up the mountainside, something else caught Hack’s eyes.
“There was some activity up there that wasn’t very savoury,” he said, referring to finding beer bottles being left behind, along with what he called “suspected drug deals” being made.
This is not what Hack envisioned for his slice of paradise. So he and other Turtle Mountain residents decided to do something about it.
With the help of the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP Community Policing Office, Hack and residents formed a Block Watch program at Turtle Mountain.
Every neighbour now has a responsibility to keep an eye on the area, including the properties of their closest neighbours. If they see anything suspicious, they know who to call and what to report.
“We started the process of gathering information for each person, a name, address, telephone, vehicle description, plate number, children and ages,” said Hack. “If there was something going on, and the police had to come up, they would recognized vehicles and know who to talk to.”
The purpose of Block Watch is to build safer neighbourhoods by providing support, guidance, training and resource materials needed to develop and operate such a program.
“The goal is to be building a crime-free city through community participation,” said Regan Borisenko, Block Watch program co-ordinator for the City of Vernon. “We have 28 active Block Watch programs running and more are in the process of being completed. “This, potentially, can connect our crime prevention program to as many as 2,500 residents of Vernon.”
With now close to 40 homes being occupied on Turtle Mountain, the Block Watch program wasn’t a hard sell to new residents.
“With Regan and the RCMP backing the program, it adds credibility to it,” said Hack. “It also provides a huge amount of comfort when we go away on holidays. There are six-to-eight neighbours, in close proximity, who know where we are and who to contact or how to contact us if there’s an issue.”
Since introducing the Block Watch program, Hack said that unsavoury activity has significantly gone down.
“It has reduced suspicious activity, probably by around 75 per cent,” said Hack. “I’d absolutely recommend Block Watch. No doubt about it. Once it’s in place, it makes the neighbourhood feel a little closer. It’s nice to know your neighbours are watching out for you.”
For information on the Block Watch program, or how to start one in your neighbourhood, call Borisenko at 250-550-7847.