Special Neighbourhood Meeting with Police and Councillor Pam McConnell

The community meeting with Councillor McConnell and officers from 51 Division at the Central Neighbourhood House on Thursday July 7th, 6:30 pm was well attended and many issues were raised.

The discussion included Community Response Seargent Henry Dyck and Officer McCalister from 51 Division Community Response Team. There has been considerable communications back and forth between 51 Division and area residents about drug dealing and street prostitution.  There have been several unprovoked assaults in the area and neighbours are very concerned. 

Fire Chief Jim Jesop also attended in light of the recent arson attack on the playground equipment in Ontario Street Park. The Fire Department also plays a key part in the inspection of problematic properties. 

Points raised by area residents.

  • Winderyer Lane - Every morning, condom, needles
  • Seaton and HIght Hawk Lane – same problem, PLUS prositiutes day and night. Children present, sex in the alleys any time.
  • residents asked for more frequent and thorough cleaning of laneways. wanted more than once month
  • Suggestion to have the city inspect problem properties. Might help get rid of the problem with drug activities
  • Suggestion going after landlord that have illegal activity going on. Make them responsible
  • Sound Times –  Agency which offers assistance to folks with mental illnesses has their entrance on Poulette St. Area residents have asked that Sound Times move entrance back to Parliament street.  Individuals drawn to the facility often loiter and hang about on residential front porches and front gardens on Poulett.  Worries that sound times has bought another property next door. Problem will increase.
  • Poulett street has the same needles and condom problems as the others. Not as extreme. The man that spoke representing Poulett St. felt bad even saying anything because his problem was not as bad as the other alleys.
  • Women living in the neigbhourhood are concerned about their personal safety walking down the street. Increased violent behaviour, (unprovoked attacks), women being propositioned for sex and followed by men. 
  • Social services need to develop good neighbourhood policies.  Items distributed to clients such as food, drug kits, condoms etc. are continually strewn around neighbouring properties and need to be cleaned up.. Needles and food garbage around John Innis. Suggest they have staff responsible to help keep area clean.
  • Female area resident had a prostitue follow her yelling and make her feel unsafe. Living in neighbourhood for years she said this was a first. She was afraid to go home! as she did not want the prostitute to know where she lived
  •  All social services concentrated in our area. Why? Can we change this? Causing the problem?
  • Suggest people clean up there little part of the alleys or work together with other nieghbours.
  • Properties that do not have back locked access are being used for sex and drug use. How to we get the properties secured? Some of these properties are abandoned/neglected. Problematic Properties Group needs to reconvene with help from staff with Pam McConnell's office.
  • Concerns about on going drug dealing and drug use in the area of Heads Lane and Dundas.

Basically all the residents said the same thing to different degrees. The neighbourhood has shifted and they feel unsafe. These were not just new people who do not know the nieghbourhood. Most have been resident for 10-20 years. Looking to the police, city to find solutions and make a changes.


Police Response 

Staff Sgt Henry Dyck

  • Thanked everyone for coming.
  • Heartened by the large turnout (approx. 60 people)
  • Advised that he went out himself and toured and photographed the alleys
  • Validates our concerns 100%
  • Found 1,000's of needles and condoms
  • Agreed that sexual activity. drug use and dealing should not be tolerated by residents
  • Noted a change in the drug culture with users moving from Oycotin  to Heroin/Fentanyl
  • Noted there was no strategy for used needles.

     

Heads Lane Drug Complaints

  • Search warrant on Dundas St property and coach house backing on lane.
  • Drug Pocession and Drug Dealing Arrests were made.
  • But back to same drug activity within hours

Police Plan for the next 2 months

  • Focus 
    • on policing at different times
    • More shifts (August 12 hour shifts)
    • Extra platoon interdivision assigned to neighbourhood

Prositution

  • Police ride spot checks in area to discourage Johns from picking up prostitutes 
  • Stressed that prostitution was legal and nothing they could do about the women

Outside Police Help

  • Mounted Unit in this area
  • Major Crime Task Force  - have been asked to focus on the area. To see results will take a couple of months
  • TAVIS – asked focus in this area. How many extra officers ssigned to the area, to be announced?

Constable McCallister

  • Resources are delegated by the stats of the call. Stress importance of reporting crimal activity      
  • Sargent Dyck - Federal government should help fund resources using seized drug money.

 

Fire Chief Jim Jesop

  • They have the power to enter properties and inspect
  • They can issue order for repair BUT are disregarded and take years to go through the courts.
  


Councillor Pam McConnell's Response

      Problematic Properties Group (area residents and city officials) will regroup in the near future.      

      Fire at Ontario St Parkette. Parks inspected on July 7. The damaged climbing apparatus can be repaired.  The scorched rubber membrane playground surface will be replace by sand temporarily and then patched later in the season.  One Week timeline to get playground up and running for the summer ASAP. Complete repair - 10 weeks.  

To read an excellent recap of the meeting please read Eric Morse's story in the Bulletin



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