Sudbury

Downtown Sudbury businesses share concerns at community policing forum

Sudbury’s downtown community is coming together to talk about policing in the city’s core, after a community forum on Tuesday involving local businesses and social service providers.

'It is really important that everyone is involved in that discussion,' police inspector says

Sudbury city staff will look at the pros and cons of installing speed "humps" around the city to help slow traffic. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Sudbury's downtown community is coming together to talk about policing in the city's core, after a community forum on Tuesday involving local businesses and social service providers.

The focus of the forum was on creating a safe and welcoming downtown, according to Inspector John Somerset, who heads the community support division with Greater Sudbury Police.

"I discussed the idea with our local business improvement association (BIA), who wanted to bring together the local businesses and community organizations that service in the downtown area and discuss some of the concerns of those agencies," Somerset said.

Concerns include vandalism, social disorder

Some of the concerns addressed at the forum included panhandling, loitering and drug use, Somerset said.

Vandalism has been another problem in the area, particularly for restaurants like the Damascus Cafe, which had its windows shot out with what police believed to be an air gun.

Recently city staff also recommended increased security at the transit terminal, by hiring two additional municipal enforcement officers to improve safety for transit riders and staff. That recommendation was approved by the city's Community Services Committee in July and is slated to go to council later this month.

Somerset said these concerns are not unique to the downtown, as police have seen an increase in instances of property crime and calls related to social disorder across the city.

But Jeff MacIntyre, chair of the Downtown Sudbury BIA, said it's especially important for members of the community and police to work together in such a densely populated area.

Jeff MacIntyre is the board chair for the Downtown BIA in Sudbury. (Benjamin Aubé/CBC)

More visible police presence downtown

"We're trying to work with police to make sure we're maintaining a friendly and inviting downtown," McIntyre explained.

"A lot of it was [about] getting our members to know the police officers that are in the downtown, how to access them and how to have kind of a communicative relationship with them."

Improved communication is one strategy to come out of the forum, as well a more visible police presence in the area. Somerset added policing is about more than just enforcement these days.

"People look to police to conduct enforcement, it's our traditional role, and while there is a time and place for specific enforcement as it relates to crime, it is not a long term solution," he said.

"It is really important that everyone is involved in that discussion, that everybody's voices are heard and that we work together to address issues. The police alone can certainly not solve many of the social issues that cause these concerns, and it does take the whole community to really address them and move forward."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robin De Angelis is a multimedia journalist based in southwestern Ontario. She has previously worked as a reporter covering local news in Sudbury. Get in touch on Twitter @RobinElizabethD or by email robin.deangelis@cbc.ca

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