Residents in Charlottetown neighbourhood shaken by murder meet on topic of drugs

Mayor Clifford Lee stays silent on what residents told him during Brows Lane meeting sunday night

Mitch MacDonald
Published on July 21, 2014

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee, left, city councillor Melissa Hilton and Progressive Conservative MLA James Aylward walk to a meeting with residents of the Brows Lane neighbourhood that are concerned with drug activity in the area. The meeting, held in a private home, was closed to the local media. 

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Charlottetown residents left shocked by last week's murder have banded together to tackle the issues of drugs, safety and security in the city.

Residents living close to the scene of last weekend's murder at 182 Brows Lane, as well as the mayor, two city councillors and at least one MLA, met at an undisclosed location Sunday night to discuss the incident.

However, exactly what was discussed in the closed meeting is still unclear.

Mayor Clifford Lee remained tight-lipped after the meeting and said he had been asked by residents not to comment on what was discussed.

"It wasn't my meeting and out of respect to the residents, that's my comment," said Lee. "I'll be honest, I regularly meet with groups of residents across the city. It was a meeting chaired by the residents."

While organizers also declined The Guardian's request to have a reporter sit in on the meeting, it was clear the discussion was spurred by last Friday's stabbing and that part of the conversation addressed a drug problem in the city.

A 17-year-old Charlottetown woman is in the midst of a first-degree murder trial after a 45-year-old man was stabbed to death July 11.

The incident shook up members of the community, although multiple sources told The Guardian that residents had previously raised issues to Charlottetown police about the apartment where the stabbing took place.

City police did not have a representative at Sunday's meeting.

Coun. Melissa Hilton, who represents the ward, was not able to be reached by The Guardian for a comment after the meeting.

Coun. Mitch Tweel, who has been vocal about the city's drug problem, was also invited by organizers.

Tweel also did not want to give specifics about the meeting but did point towards a drug problem and said it's an issue that's "consistent across the city."

"There is a greater awareness now. Residents are saying enough is enough we want our neighbourhoods back and (for them to be) safe and secure," said Tweel. "They pay big taxes and want that quality of life they had a number of years ago. You're talking about the health and vibrancy of neighbourhoods and communities, and they don't want it compromised in any way, shape or form."

Tweel said the next step will likely be additional meetings, as well as residents creating a plan of action to meet with various city officials.

"You've got to keep in mind the police department did a tremendous job with Operation Clean Sweep, however, we're right back to where we started," said Tweel, referencing a massive drug sting operation carried out January.

"Make no mistake, the community is not looking for words. They want action."

Mayoral candidate Philip Brown had also attended the meeting and credited residents for stepping up and taking action.

Brown said he felt the meeting could eventually lead to a neighbourhood association being formed in the community.

"Hopefully it will develop into something long-term with results . . . I fully support neighbourhood associations coming forward to keep neighbourhoods safe and secure," said Brown, who suggested Charlottetown adopt a policy similar to Halifax where start-up funds are given to associations.

"I was very proud to say that I was there to see this neighbourhood taking a big step forward."