I was having a discussion today with residents about safety and security matters in Midland. The subject of drug addicts downtown is a common concern I hear. Then I see an article from BarrieToday on my news feed and the headline brings it all home. ‘One person is dying every 4.7 hours in Ontario from opioids’. I’m told we had 4 die in Midland in August alone… and almost monthly. Some will say that if you play with fire, you might get burned… but addiction is a disease and not a choice. Still, people are dying in our community.
For some, dabbling in the substance may have been a choice at first and for others it came from a prescription but the end results are costly… for the addicts, their loved ones, the health care system and the other harms that comes from addiction including crime and victimization of others.
What more can Midland do? We have many methadone clinics, we have many social service and mental health care programs and facilities and yet we seem to have an abundance of addicts in town, and a persistent feeling of insecurity in our downtown core.
Review this article for more details: https://www.barrietoday.com/police-beat/overdose-related-deaths-have-risen-34-this-year-say-opp-2751751
I am looking for ways that Council can help, but also being realistic. With our new downtown core nearing completion and with the esthetics taking place next spring, I am concerned that the stigma about security associated with Midland’s downtown core may cause the same residents who don’t frequent downtown now to stay away once it has been re-opened.
There is no rug to brush our homeless or addicts under (nor should we be thinking that way) but the problem remains and I am looking for real solutions to help balance the social needs of our addicts against the needs of the broader community to feel safe downtown either by day or night. Policing is never going to be enough and we simply lack the police resources (we never had that with Midland Police either) to be downtown 24/7, and police cannot simply arrest people for being drug addicts or vagrant.
Midland’s challenges are not unique but this the only community that I have any ability to help from a political perspective. This is my home, and I want what is best for all our residents. I am looking for solutions. If you have any, please contribute!