Residents should begin to see more of an OPP presence in our downtown core as City leaders take steps to address safety concerns in Kenora.

Mayor Andrew Poirier, Councillors, Detachment Commander of the Kenora OPP Jeff Duggan and concerned citizens filled City Hall’s chambers on Thursday to provide input and solutions on the issue after at least five businesses were the victim of crime in December.

After meeting with the public and discussing a variety of ideas behind closed doors, the City of Kenora confirmed that the Kenora OPP has committed to an increased and consistent presence downtown, as an immediate first step to address the public’s concerns.

“[We] are committed to public safety and are committed to ensuring people feel safe in the downtown core. We are committed to making changes to our front-line response and are committed to rolling that out as soon as we can,” said Duggan.

Council says they have also committed to hiring a dedicated Community Safety and Well-Being Coordinator, which will include continuing the development of the city’s revamped Safety and Well-Being Plan to help provide a long-term strategy for community partners.

The development of a new Community Safety and Well-Being plan was sparked by a survey conducted by the Kenora Police Services Board in February of 2021, which showed that over 70 per cent of respondents did not feel safe walking alone at night in the Kenora area.

Dryden’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan aims to help provide a network of coordinated care for those in need. It was revealed to the public in 2021 after five years of consultations with community stakeholders and includes input and advice from 60 regional organizations. These types of plans are mandated by the province.

Elsewhere, Council says a number of other short and medium-term solutions are being evaluated over the coming weeks. Mayor Poirier notes these conversations are just the start.

“This is the first step in our journey together. We have a lot of work to do but know that everyone wants to see the same result, a great Kenora for all to enjoy,” says Poirier.

“Council encourages everyone to be part of the solution and to continue to be part of the conversations. We have an opportunity to end systemic challenges in our community, but we all need to work together.”

Residents are also reminded that if they see any suspicious activity, contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122, and if they witness a crime in progress, dial 911 immediately.