THUNDER BAY – According to the Thunder Bay Police Service’s Annual Reports from 2001 to 2020, the rates of violent crime in Thunder Bay have fluctuated over the past two decades.
The number of reported violent crimes in Thunder Bay has ranged from a low of 460 in 2003 to a high of 905 in 2018.
The five-year average of reported violent crimes in Thunder Bay from 2016 to 2020 was 827 per year. It’s important to note that these are only reported crimes, and the actual rates of violent crime in Thunder Bay may be higher or lower than reported.
For many residents, the crime rate likely seems far higher. Part of that is backed by the real crime statistics. Part of that is fuelled by social media where speculation can exceed reality at times.
Reducing crime in a city like Thunder Bay, or any other city for that matter, is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach.
No one can claim it will be easy
However, here are some strategies that have been effective in reducing crime in other cities:
- Community-oriented policing: This involves police officers working closely with community members to identify and address local crime issues. This approach can help build trust between the police and the community, which can lead to increased cooperation and information sharing, and ultimately a reduction in crime.
- Improved access to education and job training: Providing education and job training opportunities to at-risk individuals can help reduce crime by providing them with alternatives to illegal activities.
- Youth programs: Engaging young people in positive activities, such as sports, arts, and mentorship programs, can help keep them away from criminal activity and provide them with the skills and support they need to succeed.
- Addressing poverty and social inequality: Addressing poverty and social inequality can help reduce crime by addressing the root causes of criminal behavior. This can include programs to increase access to affordable housing, healthcare, and job opportunities, as well as initiatives to reduce income inequality.
- Improved drug treatment and mental health services: Many crimes are related to drug addiction and mental health issues, so improving access to drug treatment and mental health services can help reduce crime by addressing these underlying problems.
It’s important to note that reducing crime requires a sustained effort and the cooperation of multiple stakeholders, including law enforcement, government agencies, community organizations, and individual citizens.
There are Elephants in the Room
Homelessness and addiction are often at the base for crime in our city.
During the municipal election, dealing with homelessness and addiction were hot button issues for many candidates, however since the votes were counted, and the candidates sworn in, it has been far quieter on the solutions front.
Homelessness is a complex issue that affects communities across the country, including Thunder Bay. Dealing with homelessness requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses the root causes of homelessness and provides support to individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Here are some strategies that have been effective in dealing with homelessness:
- Affordable housing: Providing affordable housing options is critical in addressing homelessness. This can include building new affordable housing units, preserving existing affordable housing, and providing rental subsidies to low-income individuals and families.
- Rapid re-housing: Rapid re-housing programs provide homeless individuals and families with short-term rental assistance and support services to help them quickly transition into stable housing.
- Supportive services: Homeless individuals often face multiple challenges, such as mental health and substance abuse issues, that can make it difficult for them to maintain stable housing. Providing support services, such as case management, mental health counseling, and substance abuse treatment, can help address these underlying issues and improve the chances of success for individuals experiencing homelessness.
- Income support: Addressing poverty is critical in preventing and reducing homelessness. This can include initiatives to increase the minimum wage, provide job training and placement services, and expand access to social safety net programs such as food assistance and child care.
- Community engagement: Engaging the community in efforts to address homelessness is critical to success. This can include encouraging community members to get involved in volunteer and advocacy efforts, as well as working with local businesses and organizations to provide resources and support to individuals experiencing homelessness.
It’s important to note that addressing homelessness requires a sustained effort and the cooperation of multiple stakeholders, including government agencies, community organizations, and individual citizens.
Making. REAL DIFFERENCE means working together.
One of the solutions is in setting goals.
For example, Thunder Bay should set a goal of becoming the leading city in Canada in addiction treatment.
There are far too few detox and addiction treatment placements.
Thunder Bay should be setting a goal of becoming the community that has eliminated homelessness.
There should be major efforts on doing that, engaging senior levels of government as well as the people here in the city as well as organizations.