OSHAWA Ontario Canada June 19 2020 — Oshawa councillors have voted to spend $100,000 on a private security patrol of Oshawa’s downtown area. The dollars will be used to hire one to two security officers to patrol the downtown with the contract awarded to CDN Protection, a company that already does some patrols in the downtown for private property owners.
City staff anticipate the contract to be roughly three months. In moving the motion, Coun. Bradley Marks cited a decrease in downtown traffic and pedestrian activity due to COVID-19 leading to an increase in the number of unsheltered people in the downtown. He cited issues related to drug use, graffiti and defecating on private and public property. “I know a lot of people down there do require assistance, are good people, are obeying the law,” Marks told councilors before his motion passed, adding that a lot of people are accessing services at the Backdoor Mission, which has become a hub for services.
“But there is a contingent of people that continue to create some lawlessness and that makes it difficult for our staff to operate and they’re nervous to operate in some of these areas … we can’t surrender Memorial Park to some of this lawlessness; it’s a jewel of our community to represent our war dead.” During that same meeting, Oshawa councilors heard from the Oshawa Clinic Group. In a letter on tax levies, the clinic group CEO Jeff Warford touched on some of the challenges in the downtown including patients, physicians and employees being accosted, and vandalism.
“Before the pandemic, we regularly had people off the street who were not patients or customers utilize our washrooms and now they’re utilizing our parking lot or alleyways,” said Warford in an interview. “The other day, we came into work at 7:30 in the morning (and) we had two people — it was raining — sleeping on the porch outside of our sleep clinic.” He said his staff have also seen drug use in parking lots and sometimes that makes them fearful walking alone to their cars.
Deputy Mayor Bob Chapman said the city already employs security on its own property and police address criminal matters, but the idea of the expanded security is to address the gap between the two. “They’ll be helping in some instance protect the properties or move some of the folks along so they’re not hanging around in some areas (and) in some cases they’re not doing their drugs in a place we want people to come,” said Chapman, adding that there has been an increase in the homeless population downtown.