The request is to amend the Downtown Community Improvement Plan (CIP) and provide funds for security 'features' to promote crime prevention 'through environmental design principles'. It may sound lofty...but look at what this involves:
1. Out of the gate the request will likely be supported by 3 of the 6 members of the Development Services Committee (DSC) as the two Chairs of the two Mayor's Task Forces plus the Mayor are voting members of DSC.... knowing this, who would be leaning toward a NO vote and why would anyone consider voting NO because promoting safety and crime prevention is a good thing right??? Well, actually maybe me.
2. Obviously store front businesses may want to install gates and bars and extra lights and security cameras. The fact is a number already have. But what about other commercial areas of the City where break ins and criminal activities are happening? The City's CIP funds only apply to a specific area in the downtown....what about those businesses outside, even across the street from the CIP boundaries, like south of John St. or north of Brock St....or Simcoe St. north around Beatrice where there are currently many problems. Home owners choose to pay and install their own security cameras for their security.
3. The Mayor's Task Force's Chair Bob Chapman is asking to have the set up for the City's CIP changed and allow the property owner/city 50-50% funding to include these gates, bars, security lights and cameras.
Imo this request is problematic when you focus on what the Downtown Community Improvement Plan (CIP) funds were set up for and dedicated to: FACADE & ACCESSIBILTY IMPROVEMENT.
The new 'features' are not FACADE improvements and not only do they take money away from the building revitalization purpose of the CIP, they take money from making the Downtown more accessible to those who have mobility issues, who can't get in to shop or work in over 50% of the downtown properties because the premises have no ramps or automatic door openers.
The Oshawa Accessibility Advisory Committee has tried to improve accessibility in the past two years in the downtown. However Council has turned down three motions that would have helped promote automatic door openers and removing barriers to access. It was made clear to those who asked for ways to improve the downtown accessibility that the City COULD NOT OR WOULD NOT INCREASE THE DOWNTOWN CIP FUNDING.
4. The crime/drug problems in the Downtown have worsened to the point where something immediately must be done. The question is whether this proposal is another wasted effort like the Welcoming Street project when the City's DRUG PROBLEM, the root cause of the crime, security and safety problems. Why is the task force not starting with the DRUG PROBLEM?
Although the Minutes of the first two meetings of the Mayor's Community Safety Task Force (January 29, 2021 and February 26, 2021 (see links below) give good indication that there is much positive discussion and many well intentioned efforts being initiated, ADDRESSING THE DRUG PROBLEM IS MISSING.
Hopefully at the third meeting later this month it could be top of this Mayor's Task Force Agenda...and maybe they could have Oshawa Fire Services represented because with DRPS and Fire Services and Oshawa Municipal By-law and the support of concerned residents and businesses a strong action plan to crack down on the drug houses in Oshawa will take shape.
There have been 3 murders downtown Oshawa in the past year. They were not about homelessness. They were about drugs. The thefts are to pay for drugs. There are drug houses and meth labs across the city. The public needs to be involved and anonymously report drug houses. and the police and fire department need to vigorously follow up and bust them.
The costs of the City's contracted security service at City facilities went from $500K to over $1 Million in Oshawa Council's first budget following the 2018 election. But since then security incidents related to drugs and addiction at City facilities have more than doubled and continue to escalate. (See chart attached for breakdown of security incidents at City facilities.) Unfortunately, this seems a lesson that money spent on security features like patrols and cameras have not had an impact on Oshawa's drug problem.
Anyone suspecting drug manufacturing or sales in their neighbourhood must report this without fearing consequences. Anonymous calls can be made to Crime Stoppers https://durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca/
Note: Durham Regional Crime Stoppers will pay up to $2000 for any information that leads to an arrest Call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)