Letter to The Coast – Don’t lighten up

To the editor,

Thanks for all the great Halifixes suggested (“Halifixes ’08,” Jan. 3, 2008). However, the “Common sense proposal” is going down the wrong path on two counts:

1. Re: better lighting—unfortunately, the idea that better lighting ensures better security is notional. Studies reveal that lighting reduces the fear of crime rather than crime itself.

Most crime happens in the daytime. In recognition of this, many US cities have restricted outdoor lighting, as turning off lights turns off crime, with nighttime criminals being more readily detected if they have to use lights.

2. Safety on the Common: Statistically, there has been a decrease in crime on the Halifax Common. That doesn’t help those who have had the misfortune of having something dreaded like a theft or attack happen to them, but perhaps we would better off trying to “take back” the Common, instead of building on uncertain fears.

The Common is the collective neighbourhood. HRM has a very good plan based on thorough public consultation, the Halifax Common Plan (1994) which since its completion has not only been ignored, but contravened. Much of what the plan lays out involves doing things to increase the overall use of this magnificent green and public space—and I’m not talking about how many mega-concerts we out-compete Moncton for.

If you’re interested in the history of the Halifax Common, there’s a free public lecture on Thursday, January, 17 at 7:30pm at the Museum of Natural History with guest speaker Dr. Susan Markham-Starr.

For details on the 1994 Plan see halifax.ca/real_property/HalifaxCommonReportArchive.html.

By Peggy Cameron