Several Thunder Bay agencies began a two-day workshop in Thunder Bay on Monday to deal with the growing problem of  hoarding.

Representatives from the Northwest Dementia Network, Catholic Family Development Centre and Thunder Bay police met to develop a plan to deal with incidence of compulsive clutter.

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Dan Pereira believes Hamilton's Gatekeepers program would work in Thunder Bay also. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

Ron Bourett, the city's manager of by law enforcement, said he has seen some serious cases first hand.

"Once inside a home we found dead animals .... and feces everywhere, and the building itself was rotting."

Bourett said he has dealt with half a dozen compulsive hoarding cases in the past year.

Serious mental health issue

Rob Barrett of Thunder Bay's Catholic Family Development Centre said hoarding is a serious mental health issue and he would like Thunder Bay to replicate a community-based program now being used in Hamilton.

"They look at this kind of an issue as an individual one ... and that is what we want to do here in Thunder Bay."

Det.-Const. Diane MacLaurin of the Thunder Bay Police Service said hoarding is not always a policing issue but it can be a tax on community resources.

"You see the sensationalism on TV of the different hoarding issues. Obviously Thunder Bay is the same as any other place. We are going to have the same issues and same problems that people have in other centres as well."

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Ashley Begall believes the number of incidents of compulsive hoarding is on the rise in Thunder Bay. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

Dan Pereira of Gatekeepers Hamilton believes their community-based strategy would also work in Thunder Bay. "The benefits are you don't have to worry about having those sad stories of elderly people passing away in their homes surrounded by all their hoarded items," Pereira said. "Hopefully [we're] bringing about a positive chage in their lives whether it be safety at home or linking them with other services."

Ashley Begall of Northwest Community Care Access Centre said she believes hoarding is on the rise, perhaps due to an aging population. "I definitely believe that it is growing in Thunder Bay and we are seeing more and more of it through our agency."