A local landlord, whose name isn’t being used because it could identify his tenant and a vulnerable person, is wondering how much use Grey-Bruce’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan is.
He watched security camera footage showing police and paramedics attempting to deal with a situation involving a homeless person one night last week.
The camera showed a person arriving at the landlord’s property, with several (about 20) garbage bags full of possessions. The landlord discovered the person intended to move in with a tenant in his building. The landlord didn’t want the person moving in, and neither did the tenant.
Police were called, and remained at the scene for about three hours. EMS was also present for between 45 minutes and an hour, said the landlord.
The person said they would leave but didn’t. The landlord said they probably “figured I’d just go to bed and forget about it.” He suspects the police were thinking the same thing. However, the landlord continued monitoring, and police finally ended up transporting the person to Hanover; efforts to call a taxi failed – there was no answer.
“Police are dealing with this every day… they were standing there, with no resources,” the landlord said.
He questions the use of the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan that was legislated in 2019. Four years and “tons of meetings and reports” later, and police still don’t have the resources they need.
He said he’s beginning to think Alberta has the right idea, with mandatory treatment of people with substance abuse issues.
“There’s just no other way,” he said. “This (the present situation in this community) doesn’t work.”
He went on to say, “We don’t need more data to know we have a problem. We can just walk down the main street to know it’s bad.”
OPP Insp. Krista Miller was contacted for information about the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan and noted, “It’s not an acute plan, it’s a long-term plan.”
She explained its purpose is to identify risk factors that lead to crime, such as mental issues, addiction, poverty and homelessness – and deal with them “upstream” which will lead to a reduction in crime.
“There are no quick fixes,” she said.
Officers deal with acute situations daily, she said, and work with a number of agencies. The Community Safety and Well-Being Plan has resulted in those agencies sitting down at the table and talking to each other.
“The plan has strengthened those relationships,” Miller said. “We’re working together to identify gaps.”
There are resources available, such as the Y, which provides emergency housing. However, as Miller explained, you can’t force people to use those resources.
The plan is about public education and strategies that will prevent acute situations over time. Miller also said the plan encourages municipalities to “make decisions through a community safety lens.”
She concluded by saying, “There’s lots of good work being done,” and noted it needs funding and resources. But police will continue being called to deal with acute situations as they arise – they’re available 24/7.
Bruce County was also contacted. The county funds the YMCA Rural Housing and Homelessness Outreach program. Anyone who is homeless, or at risk of homelessness, can contact a YMCA housing outreach worker who will assist in securing a safe place to stay for the night and provide support to create an action plan to find and maintain long-term sustainable housing. These services are available during day-time business hours.
For situations that occur outside business hours, there’s 211. YMCA outreach workers follow up on an after-hours call the next day. Local police detachments will either assist vulnerable individuals with calling 211 or recommend that they call 211.
As an additional available resource, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), in partnership with local police detachments and first responders, have implemented the Mobile Mental Health and Addictions Response Team (MMHART) to provide on-site crisis intervention and assessment.
By Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 24, 2023 at 07:20