THUNDER BAY – Police were busy on several fronts on Saturday. Out at the Shelter House Relay at Chippawa Park, the cool weather didn’t dent the smiles and spirit of the service who were on site to share with participants.
For police on the front lines fighting crime, rain and cold weather helped keep some criminal activity to a minimum. There were two weapons offences, six assaults, and thirty ‘Quality of Life’ calls which included 16 calls for service over alcohol issues.
Many times, the Thunder Bay Police Service is put in the position of serving as a social agency. Many of the social services are closed on weekends, but the problems and needs of those people they serve continue unabated on weekends.
Across the city, issues with homeless people, people down on their luck, or with serious problems with addiction are left while the weekend rolls on.
The Rotary Shelter House is open, but often now full every night. There are people left now to find their own places to crash for the night. In many cases it is very likely those individuals also end up as victims of crime – however it is very unlikely they report crime to the police.
Not having cell phones, not having extra funds to pay for a pay phone, those situations remain what the federal government calls ‘unreported crime’.
Often across the city, if you take the time to talk with them, you will find that often their hopes, and dreams are not all that different from everyone else’s hopes and dreams.
Across Thunder Bay, there are many places where those people down on their luck, or with issues with drugs or alcohol find to drink and try to fill the hurt in their souls with cheap alcohol.
The need to offer hope and a way out of the hole is all many of the people want. Yet in our society in many cases, there are few ways that can happen. Left to dwell in a life where priorities are getting another drink, finding a meal, or getting a place to sleep are massive.
Like many people, judgement is not something really needed. What is needed is the hand up that will lead to a new life. In many cases, resources to achieve those goals are not there.
The results are the crime that comes to take up millions of dollars of police and criminal court resources.
In our city, until we figure out that we are only as strong as our most down trodden resident, we are going to see no changes in how crime rates, addiction and other problems impact our city.
Thunder Bay has dropped from #20 in the MoneySense Magazine ranking of best cities in Canada. The latest rankings put Thunder Bay at #92nd place. It is likely that issues with crime, fuelled by alcohol abuse, addiction to drugs, are a major component of that drop in our city’s ranking.
It is an issue that Thunder Bay is working on, but often progress is far slower than most in our community would prefer.
1. Greater public awareness. Often there is a determination that not talking about issues and problems is a means to an end. City Council and the Mayor along with senior city administration should invest time in unannounced walking tours of areas of Thunder Bay. Doing that at night might be a benefit toward seeing our city as it often is. We aspire to be the best, we need to work harder on those areas where we are not, and focus needed resources to improve.
2. Greater public pride and engagement. If as a resident of our city, you see something that needs doing, are you doing something proactive and positive to effect change? Calling the Mayor or your Councillor is one step, but getting you and your neighbours engaged in helping will go far further.
3. Get involved and volunteer. There are many groups helping out in our city who also need a helping hand. You could write a cheque, but by getting directly involved you can make a real difference.