Letter poses questions to council about ‘serious social issues’ in downtown Barrie

“There are serious social issues that have reached a crisis point this summer, that need both immediate and long-term solutions.”

Barrie’s general committee, on Monday, is to discuss inviting representatives of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit to attend a future City Council meeting to do a presentation on the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy Action Plan.
In related news, a group of residents and owners of small businesses in downtown Barrie sent a letter to City Clerk Wendy Cooke, asking that it be shared with members of council via the circulation list.
“As residents and small business owners in downtown Barrie, we have experienced an extremely challenging summer with respect to community safety in the downtown core, especially in those neighbourhoods close to the downtown bus terminal,” reads the letter.
“Barrie police have demonstrated ongoing responsiveness to our requests for support and have been working diligently with the whole community to find solutions. However, this is far more than a law enforcement issue. There are serious social issues that have reached a crisis point this summer, that need both immediate and long-term solutions.”
The letter says that in “March of 2018, our provincial legislature passed the new Safer Ontario Act, which repealed and replaced Ontario’s Police Services Act from 1990. The new legislation:
• Mandates municipalities to work with police services and local service providers in health care, social services and education to develop community safety and well-being plans that proactively address locally identified community risks, and
• Mandates municipal police service boards to participate in the planning led by municipalities, and to consider the community safety and well-being plan when developing their strategic plans. Building Stronger and Safer Communities.
“Considering that two of the goals specified in the 2014 -2018 Council Strategic Plan are to “Eliminate obstacles to business growth and investment” and to “Support diverse and safe neighbourhoods,” we are asking the Mayor and Council, with respect to the downtown core west of Bayfield Street, specifically, the following questions:
• What actions have already been taken by the municipality to comply with the Safer Ontario Act, 2018, S.O. 2018, c.3 – Bill 175, Specifically, PART XIII – COMMUNITY SAFETY AND WELL-BEING PLANS, Section 195 (1) to Section 204 (10)?
• How has the city engaged with the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ Community Safety and Well-Being Planning Framework?
• How does the city utilize the Toolkit for Community Safety and Well-being Planning, which has been provided for municipalities by the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, as a resource for planning work with community partners in implementing sustainable, long-term strategies that support the kinds of goals in the 2014 -2018 Council Strategic Plan?
• What community supports does the municipality currently have in place, specifically focused on prevention of recidivism and supporting community reintegration, among the discharged inmates who are transported, on an ongoing basis, directly from the Central North Correctional Centre to the downtown Barrie Bus terminal (numbering 380 between January 1, 2018 and August 24, 2018*)?
• What processes does the city have in place to collaborate with the Central North Correctional Centre in providing effective community reintegration supports and recidivism prevention supports to the discharged inmates mentioned in item 4)?
“We appreciate the time and efforts of the Mayor and Members of Council in this matter and thank them in advance for their response to our questions.”