Forest Lawn has long had negative reputation in Calgary, stemming from gang and drug related crime.
But that’s changing with International Ave construction and community initiatives.
Carol Johnson is a long-time resident of Forest Lawn. She has heard a lot about the problems in the area, including some recent crimes.
She says the crimes that happen are brought on by the individuals involved with drugs and are usually not people from the area.
“It used to seem as though Forest Lawn was a hideout for criminals, but recently it feels as though they’re doing the crime here too,” said Johnson.
Jacqulyn Ragaisis is originally from Nova Scotia but moved to Calgary 26 years ago.
She has lived in a few areas around the city such as Pineridge and Dover.
Ragaisis says home to her in Calgary is Forest Lawn.
“The community is friendly and we all stand by each other. There’s the odd ones out there for sure, but we all just sort of naturally know to avoid them,” said Ragaisis.
Ragaisis lived in Shawnessy for roughly six months and found that amenities were not as easily accessible as they were in Forest Lawn.
She moved back to Forest Lawn with her family because they found people were generally more friendly and things were just easier for them.
There is a group called 12 CSI (Community Safety Initiative) that works to create safety plans to ensure safety of Forest Lawn and the 12 surrounding communities.
There are Facebook pages where community members post crimes and dangerous events happening in the community to help protect each other.
One Facebook page called “Forest Lawn Neighborhood Watch” has 137 members who actively participate in sharing and helping each other.
They even post ways to help businesses and offers fun ways to hang out as communities.
The community is rather old and includes many long-term families. Everyone seems to know each other or have some sort of connection with one another.
Residents gather in local bars and participate in events in and around the communities.
The new area development plan along International Avenue is beginning to make a difference to the look of the community.
Members of the community feel it will drive away some, if not all of the criminal element.
For drivers it is still frustrating to drive through incomplete construction, but everyone expresses excitement over the finished product.
Ragaisis said that the updates to International Avenue are no different than what has been done in Kensington and Inglewood.
“Just take a walk through those communities. The difference is amazing, not just cosmetically but the crime rate as well, said Ragaisis.
“I say bring on the change.”