Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield says he's concerned about the mix of drug and crime filtering into his community.

"You know, you look at the stats coming out of Winnipeg lately. It's really bad. You don't want to see that filter into here or get to that level. I know there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes to get that fixed," he said.

Over the summer, police statistics showed violent crime was down.Yesterday, the OPP detachment released statistics that showed violent crime -- including assaults and sexual assaults -- were down about 10 per cent as of the end of August, when compared with the same time period last year.

However a rash of break-ins at downtown businesses in recent weeks, combined with a fatal overdose recently in a downtown apartment block and a murder over the long weekend have made the mayor revisit the issue.

"I think it's isolated," Canfield said, regarding the events of the long weekend.

"Some of the systems that the OPP here have in place -- and a lot of the programs people are working with -- are working as we've seen in some of the stats. At the same time, these isolated incidents are unfortunate, and we don't want to have them happen again," the mayor continued, noting the drug problem that's spreading across the continent.

Sara Dias is with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kenora.

"What I heard today was there is clearly a significant increase in mental health and addiction-related calls. There's some great partnerships happening locally," she noted.

Dias is part of a coalition of community partners, who would like to see a Rapid Access Addiction Medicine clinic in the community. It could help curb the drug issues with crystal meth or fentanyl, which are highly addictive and they've become more common in Kenora. The clinics could provide a response other than jail for an addict in crisis.

Police have handled roughly 125 to 130 calls dealing with mental health issues this year and last, with each call taking two or three hours to resolve, according to stats released by the Kenora OPP Friday. Police at the table noted they weren't necessarily the best ones to handle such calls, and they've been working on transfer protocols, as they hand off those in their care to other agencies.

Along with the recruitment of new doctors, including new psychiatrists, the city's also looking for new officers to assist the detachment. Along with officers arriving at the detachment this fall, the detachment commander expected five new members early in the new year.

Insp. Jeff Duggan added he was going to meet with downtown business owners, as well as parents, in an effort to address concerns. Foot patrols downtown increased from about 54 hours in July to just under 100 hours in August. The inspector added their allocation of resources are also being helped by analytics, which are tracking incidents and calls for service.

Over the course of the summer, Duggan said the complaints downtown were of a different nature. They had more to do with people who were loitering.

"Like I said, there's a lot of legislation out there that prevents us from approaching people and entering into an investigation because they're standing on a street corner," he noted.

He emphasized many property crimes, including the theft of items from vehicles, are crimes of opportunity. That's to say valuables are in view and often the vehicle doors are unlocked, the detachment commander noted, underlining their lock it or lose it slogan.

The detachment dealt with 1,576 calls for service in July, compared with 1,432 in June. The estimated cost for the detachment is expected to increase by about $45,000 to $5.7 million this year.

 

 

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