BRIEFLY . . . for April 13, 2007

Angels’ wings clipped by lack of volunteers

The local chapter of the Guardian Angels is having trouble getting off the ground. The group needs more volunteers and a place to train them, says organizer Kelly Duval.

The Guardian Angels is an international organization that uses unarmed citizens to patrol streets and fight crime at night. Ottawa police have said they will not work with the group or endorse its work because the city’s force is enough to keep it safe.

Guardian Angels volunteers need thorough self-defence training, says Duval, but he has nowhere to hold these sessions. Some local martial arts centres have donated space, but the centres’ regular classes have priority for using the buildings. He says he hopes a business will donate permanent training space.

The defence training will keep volunteers safe, Duval says, and also ensure the group meets federal laws for private security workers.

The Guardian Angels had planned to be in operation by this month, but Duval says the group’s numbers have dwindled because some volunteers moved away. He still needs about 10 more members to join his patrol team.

“What we need now is more people who can actually go on the streets,” he says. “I don’t want to send our teams out undermanned.” – Scott Cressman

City council deflates cyclists’ plans

Citizens for Safe Cycling have lost a bid for a city grant to keep its cycling programs running until the end of the year.

City council rejected a motion from its transportation committee to free up $40,000 to keep the group’s cycling programs with the city in place until the city finalizes its own.

“It basically died on the table,” Charles Akben-Marchand, the group’s president, says. “We were counting on it to restore the funding . . . . all our hope is gone. Now we have nothing.”

The group will have to rely on donations and run its educational programs on a much smaller budget.

– Alice Ervin

Patten endorses councillor for nomination

Richard Patten has endorsed City Coun. Diane Deans as his successor as Liberal MPP for Ottawa Centre.

Deans has been quoted as saying that she had not yet made a firm decision as to whether she will seek the nomination. However, she is “seriously considering it.” – Alice Ervin