Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is continuing to advocate for the city and address the needs and challenges in the downtown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Carter, Oshawa is seeing “heightened and unique challenges” in the downtown. He notes there has been a reported increase in “complex issues” related to mental health, addictions and unsheltered individuals, along with a rise in unlawful and disrespectful behaviour.
He recently led a walk-through of downtown Oshawa with Regional Chair John Henry, Regional Chair of Health and Social Service Bob Chapman, senior leaders of Durham Regional Police Services (DRPS), and members of the DRPS board and Oshawa BIA, to provide a first-hand look at the outreach programs currently underway and raise awareness of the crisis in the area.
“I can assure you that we continue to take action to help connect individuals in need with services and shelter,” says Cater in a recent statement. “At the same time we are stressing the urgency for Durham Region and the Durham Regional Police Service to help us address unlawful and disrespectful behaviour and to ensure that our neighbourhoods, parks, and trails are safe and welcoming for all.”
The walk-through included The Back Door Mission, the Welcoming Streets initiative, the In/Out Crisis program, and issues surrounding Memorial Park. He notes calls have been received from residents who no longer feel safe visiting the park due to unlawful and disrespectful behaviour.
“During the walk-through, I stressed the urgency for all levels of government and community partners to work together to take action and address the unique challenges in Oshawa,” states Carter, noting the Point-in-Time Count estimates Oshawa is home to 77 per cent of the unsheltered individuals in Durham Region.
“We are committed to supporting individuals in need of shelter and those struggling with mental health and addiction, but I must stress that at no time do we support individuals breaking the law or bylaws or disrespectful behaviour,” Carter continues.
He says the city is looking to the region and DRPS for their continued commitment to enforcement and eliminating unlawful behaviour.
“The safety of all our community members is of the upmost importance,” he says. “We need the regional, provincial and federal governments to help develop and fund strategies to address issues related to the opioid crisis and other addictions, mental health and homelessness.”
He says doing this will ensure families, seniors and all residents can feel safe to visit and use the city’s parks and open spaces – “a welcoming downtown in which community members feel safe and comfortable to work, shop and dine.”