Visit leaves safety coalition with new insight

After working diligently for six years to arrange and prepare for last week’s visit by the president of the World Health Organization, the chairman of the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition could breathe a well-deserved sigh of relief.
“It was worth it!” enthused Doug Anderson on Monday. “We’ve gained a lot of insight.”
Dr. Leif Svanstrom’s visited here Nov. 16-18 (one of just two stops in North America this year) to determine if Rainy River District could gain “Safe Community Accreditation” under the WHO’s Safe Communities Incentive Program.
But the RRVSC also is hoping Dr. Svanstrom brought home the importance of safety to many people’s minds–and compounded the point that safety is a community effort.
“We’ve had some good feedback,” noted Anderson. “But it’s how the community embraces it now. We’re going to gather our forces to make this a ‘Safe Community’ now.”
Part of RRVSC’s mandate is to host a WHO convention by the year 2002, attracting as many as 500 delegates, and it realizes the district’s willingness to get behind the safety effort is crucial to bringing that to fruition.
“We want to show North America, and the rest of the world for that matter, that we can be a safe community. But will we be able to get the community to say ‘yes?’” he wondered.
“The municipal heads have agreed to support us for the 2002 conference . . . but as far as the numbers of residents go, it’s up to the communities,” he noted.
Anderson hoped the make-up of the RRVSC would help get people involved.
“We’re as grassroots as you can get,” he remarked. “Whenever we ask people if they’ll help us with community safety, they say ‘yes.’”
As for the RRVSC itself, Anderson said they would be “deepening” their programs, focusing on more co-ordination to accommodate increased numbers of volunteers and their efforts.
“[The coalition’s programs] are so widespread and covers many areas,” he explained.
As such, the RRVSC will be looking for a full-time co-ordinator to take charge of its newly-intensified efforts. A meeting of members is slated next Wednesday.