In 1982, social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling proposed the Broken Window Theory in Atlantic magazine.
Basically, this is the concept that problems that go unattended in a given environment such as a neighbourhood or town, affect people’s attitude toward that environment and leads to more problems.
Smithers, we have a problem.
Vandalism and theft in the town are on the rise. Downtown merchants are fed up and looking for answers.
The good news is, the corollary to the theory is that if the environment is well-maintained and problems are dealt with as they arise, the opposite effect occurs.
It tells potential ill-doers that someone cares and is going to protect the place.
There is no easy solution to this particular problem. Throwing more police at it simply isn’t an option.
Smithers already pays approximately $2.4 million for RCMP services representing somewhere around 10 per cent of the town’s overall budget.
They may be able to help, but the community as a whole must step up.
If we don’t want our town to be a haven for vandals and thieves, this means all individuals who care about Smithers must do their part.
Basically, it comes down to being vigilant and, if you see something that doesn’t seem quite right, say something.
Lock your vehicles whether at home or in public. Report suspicious activity to police or warn merchants about suspicious activity in or near their vehicles.
People with more time on their hands may want to consider doing more. Pre-pandemic, Smithers Citizens on Patrol (COP) was a thriving organization with a volunteer base of a couple of dozen people and nearly daily patrols.
Now COP is down to four people (two couples) who patrol a few times a month.
Ultimately, if we, as individuals and as a community, don’t show that we care and are willing to do something about it, the problem will persist and likely worsen.