By Greg Rickford MPP
KENORA – LEADERS LEDGER – The safety of residents and visitors in downtown Kenora continues to be of great concern to myself, and to many who have experienced escalating vandalism, violence and evidence of drug use. My office has received an enormous volume of serious complaints, concerns and calls for a solution to these matters that are of serious concern for public safety.
Over the past several days I have been working with various groups including the Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) CEO, Henry Wall has also voiced his concerns for the safety of our community. There is a consensus among stakeholder groups, concerned citizens, and leadership at Knox United Church to continue to provide services at the shelter for a reasonable period, before temporarily closing the facility re-assess its needs and operations.
I strongly encourage citizens of Kenora to attend the community consultations Wednesday to be informed about the work Service Hub Shelter and the Health Unit is doing to ensure the safety of Kenora and the surrounding community. By working together, social service agencies can better intervene to reduce the risk of harm to the public, and work with local business to address security concerns that keep our streets safer.
In the meantime, I will be working closely with the KDSB, the Northwestern Health Unit and the OPP to protect our community’s most vulnerable people. Our government is keeping its promise to make mental health and addictions a priority, including allocating $174 million to address critical gaps in Ontario’s system and supports for those living with mental health and addictions challenges.
These investments are part of the government’s commitment to invest $3.8 billion over the next 10 years to develop a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.
As well please see the below quote from Don Cameron, spokesman for the Knox United Church:
“We like to think of ourselves as a caring church and for 25 years we have served meals to the poor, alcoholics and people down on their luck, but when the drug addicts showed up with their habits and paraphernalia we were shocked. This was way more that we could deal with.
“We wholeheartedly support Mr. Rickford’s initiative and will work with him, the Kenora District Services Board and whatever partners they engage with to make the shelter at Knox suitable for the neighbourhood.”