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Oshawa, Ont., mayor pleads for help from police to manage downtown safety concerns

Oshawa mayor asks police for assistance to address downtown safety issues
WATCH: Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is asking for help from the police when it comes to managing unlawful behaviour in the city's downtown. Brittany Rosen reports.

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter is calling on Durham police for assistance amid escalating criminal behaviour from various homeless individuals in the city.

Carter presented before the police services board Monday, saying the issue had spiraled out of his control.

“I can’t do this alone,” he said.

“I need their help in regards to initiatives to truly be able to say to the criminal element, ‘you have no place in the city of Oshawa.'”

His presentation to the board comes after complaints from numerous organizations, including the Oshawa BIA, Oshawa’s Chamber of Commerce, the Oshawa Public Libraries and a local real estate agency.

Read more: Oshawa’s homeless claim authorities destroying tent cities

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Organizations expressed their concerns through letters to the mayor. Noel Coppins with RE/MAX Jazz says she “almost stepped on needles that have been left literally on our doorsteps of both buildings, both front and rear entries,”

She went on write, “Last week, we had people move into our garbage bins; the week before, they pitched a tent in our parking lot. People move in almost weekly, breaking the locks to our storage areas under our rear stairs and pitching out our stuff to move in theirs.”

Meanwhile, Oshawa Public Libraries stated it is “now at the point where business owners, employees, customers and visitors in the downtown area do not feel safe.”

“People are scared walking from their business to their vehicles, day or night. Business owners are witnessing individuals urinating and defecating on doorsteps and in parking lots, and drug paraphernalia is being found daily around their places of business.”

Carter says the vast majority of recent crimes can be accounted for by the same groups of individuals.

Read more: Crystal Goomansingh: A closer look at homelessness in Oshawa

“Eighty per cent of the individuals that are suffering from addiction and mental health come here to receive services,” Carter said.

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“Those individuals are being victimized by people of the criminal element trying to take advantage of them and they’re selling their poison on our streets, they’re recruiting women to go into the human trafficking business.”

The mayor has made multiple requests before the police services board, including more funding to “ensure that the DRPS Central East Division in Oshawa has the proper resources to hold accountable those who are breaking the law and to do so year-round, 24/7.”

Carter would also like to see an expansion of officer foot patrols and the rotation of staffing to witness issues first-hand and develop solutions to address challenges in the downtown.

He would also like DRPS to develop a partnership with Oshawa’s Business Improvement Area to use existing cameras downtown to “deter criminal behaviour” and “use as an an effective tool for investigation.”

Read more: ‘People are losing their lives on our streets’: Overdose calls climb in Durham

Kevin Ashe, chair of the board, says, “We’re looking at helping and resourcing policing in the city of Oshawa so we can address some of the concerns that were quite rightly advocated by mayor Carter.”

Ashe says if approved, the initiatives would be funded through DRPS’ annual budget for 2021.

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