[File Photo]

Oshawa asks for DRPS help on crime in downtown

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter yesterday called on the Durham Region Police Services (DRPS) Board for its full support to tackle the needs and challenges related to unsheltered individuals and criminal activity in the city’s downtown core.

He requested sufficient police funding, increased foot patrols and stronger partnerships.

Mayor Carter highlighted that Oshawa is home to approximately 80 percent of Durham Region’s unsheltered population and that coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, the city is experiencing heightened challenges and issues in the downtown.

Mayor Carter explained that there is a valid perception from both the downtown BIA and the community that downtown Oshawa is not safe. He noted that the city and partner agencies have reported an increase in issues related to mental health, addictions and unsheltered individuals, along with a rise in unlawful behaviour, said a city statement.

He stated that since March, criminal activity incidents have increased in the downtown, including illegal distribution of drugs, open drug use, property vandalism, assaults on trails, breaking and entering into businesses, and disrespect of private and public property, including urination and defecation.

The mayor urged the DRPS to commit to three key areas of support to its Central East Division in Oshawa to address criminal activity in our downtown:

  1. Funding – provide sufficient funding to ensure that the DRPS Central East Division in Oshawa has the proper resources to hold accountable those who are breaking the law and to do so year-round, 24/7.
  2. Foot patrols – rotate the staffing of foot patrols to generate new ideas and solutions to address the various issues and challenges in the downtown. The downtown foot patrols are critical and required year-round, 24/7.
  3. Partnerships – develop a partnership with the BIA to implement a CCTV program that would see cameras located in key locations in the downtown to deter criminal behaviour and to use as an effective tool for investigation. Additionally, the Mayor highlighted that a stronger partnership between the City and DRPS is crucial.

During his presentation, Mayor Carter touched on the programs that the city, region, partner agencies and the faith community have created to help those in the downtown, including the Primary Care Outreach Program, Mission United operating out of the Back Door Mission, On Point, Welcoming Streets, the HepC Team and Spirit of Service.

He stressed that the safety of all community members is of the upmost importance. Mayor Carter spoke to the urgent need to address safety concerns in the core of the city to ensure that residents, businesses and visitors can feel safe and enjoy a thriving downtown.

“We have been hearing from community members that they no longer feel safe visiting downtown Oshawa due to unlawful and disrespectful behaviour. Ensuring that our families, seniors and all residents feel safe to visit and are comfortable to work, shop, dine and learn in the downtown is a top priority,” said Mayor Dan Carter.

“As your mayor, I addressed the DRPS Board today to request its full commitment and support, including sufficient funding and increased police presence, 24/7 and year-round in the downtown,” added Mayor Carter. “I am pleased to report that the Police Chief assured me that the DRPS is committed to working with the City to address criminal behaviour in the downtown.”

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