I Love Edmonton's North Central Communities
By Chris Hayduk
I love Edmonton; I always have. I have seen many cities around the world and I still love Edmonton. I have worked in the north central communities of Edmonton for 11 years as a police officer with the Edmonton Police Service. I have seen lots of challenges that the communities have faced. Through that time I have realized that even though some of these communities have had their share of issues (what communities haven't?) these communities’ members are supportive of each other and work hard to make their communities better. I admired this passion so much that my wife and I moved our family to the community of Parkdale 5 years ago.
There are so many community groups that work in the area for a variety of reasons from bringing arts into the communities, healing, drop in programs, and dealing with disorder issues. Because of all of this enthusiasm, I was motivated to start my own community group, called Community Response to Urban Disorder (CRUD). As I pitched the idea to other people, it gained support and is now a not-for-profit association with a board of directors and a list of concerned community residents. CRUD works hard to send a positive message about our communities and encourages people to be out in the public space using the space for its intended purpose.We host several weekly events in the community that are meant to draw people out of their houses and enjoy their space. All of the north central communities have wonderful playgrounds, so we started a "park crawl". This is an event that has families come out and meet other community members with children the same age. There are countless dogs (and dog owners) in the community, so we started a dog walking group. We also do a fitness walking group and larger events we call Avenue Take Overs. The Take Over event is designed to bring people out of their house and show community strength in a positive way. All of these events are designed to be positive interactions that engage all community members and we welcome anyone to join with us. We partner with other groups and help promote our local businesses and festivals. CRUD is an organization that works hard to foster positive change in the community while building community spirit.
These north central communities are so full of diversity and richness that I could not see myself living anywhere else. There aren't many places where you can get some of the best Ethiopian cuisine, excellent Thai food, then some of the best Mexican/Salvadorean fare and everything else you might want, all within a few blocks. There are some great community celebrations that happen in these communities as well - Arts on the Ave hosts the Kaleido Festival and the Deep Freeze Winter Festival. Eastwood Community League hosts the Eastwood fest. There is a festival for the dogs, Avenue Goes to the Dogs, a Bloomin' Garden show, and new this spring there is a Farmers' Market at the Alberta Avenue Community League. You can even check out the giant old trees, large yards, and historical homes. I think I can sum up the richness of the community by saying that this may be the only community in the world that has a cafe run entirely by volunteers.
What I don't understand is why more people don't buy in and live in these north central communities. I challenge people to find a community that offers as much as these ones do. I would like to extend an invitation to anyone who reads this to come out and enjoy our community and see for yourself. If you want a guided tour check out CRUD and one of their groups (dog walking, fitness walking or park crawl). This would be an opportunity see the avenue and what it has to offer. I also extend an invitation to any of the wonderful festivals and restaurants that help make our city great. If you are out on the avenue, stop by the Carrot Community Arts Coffee House and say hi - you will probably find me there.
Chris Hayduk is an 11-year member with the Edmonton Police Service and the president of Community Response to Urban Disorder (CRUD). He recently won the Solicitor General’s award for crime prevention for offering a new approach. Chris and the board of directors from CRUD try to only focus on the positive aspects of the community by celebrating all the good. When the people come out on the street, crime prevention takes care of itself.