Victoriaville: The Future

The City of Thunder Bay is looking for input into what the citizens would like to see happen to this space. Since its inception it has polarized the citizens and for many is the reason that the Fort William side of town has gone into a decline. Much has changed since the days of old and the city itself has changed. The question still remains as to what do we do with the Victoriaville Mall and how do we move forward?

I think we need to take a step back and come to an agreement that no matter what decision we make whether to tear it down or to keep it up; the area will not boom like people seem to predict. Thunder Bay is a much different place then when the mall was created and we as a society have changed as well. This idea that if we tear it down everyone will come rushing back into the area is a fallacy and it just wont happen. Fort William downtown still struggles with a bad reputation, high crime rates and lack of a real draw. I know personally that if they tear down the Victoriaville Mall; I will still have no draw to go there.

The decision on what to do with this half filled building that has struggled to bring in business and customers is an extremely challenging one. On one hand if we keep the building as such then we run deficits and spend millions for repairs to a facility we may not need. Yet, if we tear it down the question becomes the next steps for the space, the people who lose their businesses and employment. The larger picture must also be considered in this decision. The decision to invest millions in the waterfront redevelopment was not done on its own; it was done with the implications it would help the surrounding area and the investment would incite other investment.

The City of Thunder Bay needs to look to a much larger plan then simply the space that Victoriaville occupies and create a plan to bring life into this area again. This means dealing with issues such as public intoxication, businesses supporting potentially illegal or antisocial actions and beautifying the area. We have a gentlemen in Mr. Habib who has taken the time to present his vision for the area in order to bring life back to this part of town. It is going to take a vision on a grander scale to address the issues facing this part of town and it is a multifaceted one. Looking to modern urban design principles, the realities of the city and its population along with a multitude of potential tax policies will be important.

The City of Thunder Bay cannot take this on their own and they need to introduce private partners to the plan. Residential development or having people live in the area is an important part of improving the area and bringing in other investments. Council can work with developers to create multi use facilities that build on each others success. There are a number of buildings that can be torn down to introduce these new spaces for developers to establish themselves. Toronto is one community that succeeds because they build on each other. Bottoms floors are rented out to things that the community would need like grocery stores, gyms and cafe’s while upstairs are residential areas, the people who work and use these areas. Thunder Bay needs to look to this vision beyond just the Fort William area but specifically for the plan of the Victoriaville Mall how to best create mutli-use facilities.

To the idea of what to do with the Victoriaville mall; I really hope that while the city gets input from the citizens as a whole it places more emphasis on those who work, live, and play in these areas. As someone who hardly uses this area my opinion should have less value then someone who would lose a business, employment or a recreation space due to this decision. I hope that the city looks to a pedestrian facility where people can come, sit and relax while taking in the area. A space for vendors to provide food, meals and allow for a community connection. I hope that the city takes into account aboriginal features as this area does have a larger Aboriginal population.

I guess my thoughts on this topic are that we cannot expect a miracle to happen either way. We need too look beyond this area and make the effective investments that improve life and the users of the space should have more say then those from Neebing, McIntrye or even the north core who haven’t used the space in 30 years.

Mr. Habib vision: http://visitfortwilliam.ca/NeighbourhoodNews/Avisionfordowntown.aspx

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Positive Things by Police

Law enforcement has seen its share of trouble/negative media attention and public criticism over the last couple years. We as humans tend to focus on the negatives and I myself am no different. Its really unfortunate that negative things seem to stick in our heads longer then the positives. My purpose with this post is not to argue the merits of individual cases if the officers was wrong/justified. What I do want to do is bring some attention to the positive things that Canadian law enforcement is doing to make the community a better place and improve civic relations.

#1: Frosty comes alive.

Orillia OPP Cst. Marcus LEE helps a young male build a snowman in Orillia’s first snowfall.

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Cst. Marcus LEE

Story: http://www.orilliapacket.com/2015/11/25/local-officer-stops-to-help-boy-create-some-winter-fun

Remarks: Its really nice to see A) the media caught on to this and B) the officer take time out of his schedule to spend it with Orillia’s Youth. This community building went viral on social media where it brought out lots of positive comments about the officers actions and the law enforcement community in general. Its a small act that likely had a big impact on the kid and had a big impact on improving the community relations.

#2 Social Media Crazy

Law Enforcement in Canada has taken a big step in community relations by moving into social media and making an officer available for comment, to address concerns and deal with public issues. This move to social media allows the law enforcement community to show what it is that they do and how they do it. They get to address issues and to interact with the community; we are seeing individual officers now using social media to work with the community. Its a great improvement which helps to humanize the officers who roam the streets and to show the community that they are there for them. I follow a number of officers and organizations myself and if your looking for information on how to join the OPP then the best place is @OPP_Hire on twitter. York Regional Police just put out a call to help them arrest an individual who had been sexually assaulting women through twitter and the community rallied to help put the individual behind bars.

Halton Region: @Haltonpolice
Peel Regional Police: @Peelpolice
Toronto Police: @TorontoPolice @pcarsenault @pcglennjones
York Regional Police: @YRP
Go Transit: @GoRivett94, @GOgrodzinski301
OPP: @OPP_Hire,

(Humour filled American channel on Instagram @officerdaniels_1)

Got more news stories send them to me in the comments and I’ll add them in or more social media accounts of police you like comment below.

What I want from the 2014-2018 Council

The election is coming up quick and the politicians are making their promises. Many are offering to open up city hall and be as transparent as a ghost; others are claiming to reduce the amount the average person pays in taxes. All of these promises have been made before but many people have yet to provide the content to their plans on what they want to do in order to grow the city. Below are some of the things that I want to see the city do in order to make Thunder Bay into a progressive and growing community. I understand that a single council cannot and will not change the direction of a city on its own but it can help to steer the city.

Infrastructure:
– Continue the EIRP Program. The annual 1.5% tax increase dedicated to infrastructure is important for ‘fixing the roads’ as so many on council have commented about.
– Focus on green infrastructure (parks, natural habitat and alternative ways of dealing with storm water)
– Invest in active transportation (additional bike lanes, protected bike lanes and paths)
– Tender contracts much faster so all projects can be green lit to start in May or early June.
– Focus on quality in contracts/time to complete more then cheapness.
– Work on the image routes where applicable

Waterfront
– Continue to work with private partners finishing phase 1
– Find private partners to work on developing phase 2 of the marina development
– Work with private businesses to set up in industrial areas
– Work with private businesses to create a plan to return the land to its original state when done with the property.
– Clean up different parts of the waterfront and create a plan for the land use

Transit
– Work to find a suitable place for a new transit terminal
– Continue to expand service on main routes
– Continue to invest in new buses to reduce greenhouse gases/costs
– Work to increase the 30% return per dollar invested to roughly 50% by 2018
– Extend hours on weekends

Operations
– Find savings in city operations to the tune of $1 million per year
– Sell the daycare businesses, printing business and certain seasonal businesses (Trowbridge)
– Hire staff to fill out front line service positions
– Reduce middle management positions
– Return golf division to the parks division and reduce the management positions
– Work with city departments to keep wage increases to 2% or less
– Invest in better communication technologies to make work flow better between departments
– Hire more engineers, permit workers to help businesses

Facilities
– Look at creating new bigger sports sites and eliminating individual sites
– Shut down Stanley Arena and Grandview arena and replace them with a second pad at Port Arthur/ Delaney
– Create a master plan to refurbish, replace, sell all city sporting venues
– Create plans to replace all city owned facilities and business plans behind their replacement
– Look at a plan to downsize the Canada Games complex to a more manageable facility
– Invest in parks and green spaces

Taxes
– Create a tax incentive zone to build industrial/ commercial within the Port of Thunder Bay Lands.
– Work to stabilize taxes and then reduce them by 2018
– Create roaming development zones which give businesses a tax break for a 1 year period to invest in their business
– Create a suburban tax which will be used on homes outside of the main city areas. (3%)
– Work with MPAC and Resolute to protect the jobs in Thunder Bay
– Create a industrial zone around Bombardier and Resolute to create investment by these companies
– Reduce the dependance on Tbaytel dividend and Thunder Bay Hydro dividend
– Find alternative ways to raise money rather then user fees increases

Emergency services
– Reduce starting wages by 10% for Police and Fire
– Invest in technology so officers aren’t articulating notes for hours and spend more time on the road
– Partner with EMS and Fire to share stations and resources
– Find ways for Fire/Police to bring in additional revenue
– Create a master plan to replace/refurbish all stations/buildings. Making sure the offices are appropriate for their use.
– Find ways to put more civilians into positions where officers/cadets are currently
– Work with associations to keep wage increases to 1.5% annually
– Hire more EMS teams to reduce strain on existing teams

Economic Development
– Increase the budget for the CEDC
– Create a loan program to invest in businesses CEDC has brought to Thunder Bay
– Make it easier for businesses to get permits, engineering work done
– Work with businesses to plan future commercial zones, industrial zones and their needs
– Work to bring a refinery to Thunder Bay with the Energy East Pipeline
– Work to make Thunder Bay the service hub of the Ring of Fire/Mining Operations
– Work to bring in mining related jobs (ex. Vale Plant)
– Work with Lakehead University and Confederation College to increase the student population and investment into their campuses
– Work with Thunder Bay Regional to integrate with the post-secondary education institutions for more seemly demands and asks

Capital Projects
– Make Memorial Avenue – Thunder Bay’s first Bus Lane (Bike Lane) oriented street. (Blog Post to come)
– Develop the Event Center (with provincial and federal help)
– Develop an official plan for waterfront phase 2
– Start or Finish the ReNew Thunder Bay list of projects

The Firefighter Dilemma

They’re big, strong, well trained and the ladies love them. Fire Departments across the world are well known and loved by the population because of the job they do. City administration on the other hand is starting to fall out of love with the fire department along with the other emergency services. It costs roughly 200 dollars a month to own a home in Thunder Bay. The money is spread throughout many different sectors and programs that the city offers. The money is used to repave streets, fix potholes and replace the broken bench at the park. The largest portion of your monthly bill goes to emergency services (65 dollars monthly). This works out to an annual basis of 33% of annual tax bill headed to police, fire and EMS. Now, these 3 services are all incredibly important and necessary but annual increases are forcing cities to cut in other areas to service these. Mainly due to wage increases and OT the price of policing, providing fire services and medical support continue to go up. One would think that the increase in wages is due to an increase in the work loads that these services provide. That assumption is sort of true and this is where the dilemma comes in.

Thunder Bay Fire and Rescue’s budget is roughly 25 million dollars which is an increase of 0.9% or 223,100 from last year. Thunder Bay Fire and Rescue responded to 7577 calls in 2010 (latest numbers available) or roughly $3300 per attended call. Their call rate increased from 2009 by almost 700 calls but 500 of those calls were medical in which EMS and Police would have responded as well. Calls attended (minus medical) were 3538 in 2010 which include 446 calls were they assisted or were cancelled on the way to the call. That increases the cost per call to $7066 dollars per response by a truck and its crew. Looking at the annual responses by the Fire Department since 2001 the biggest jump in calls has been medical. Of which they provide first response and basic medical attention. Fire costs in Thunder Bay are more expensive then other cities because of the sure size and layout of the city. Merging 2 into 1 and then have the population stagnate is one reason that costs are much higher then communities with similar populations. Just recently the fire department was given parity with local police officers which means a 6 million dollar cost increase over the contract (ending in 2014). That would push Thunder Bay fire to 31 million dollars annually in annual costs come 2014. So we have determined that the cost of operating a fire department in Thunder Bay is extremely expensive and that calls have remained relatively stable. This is the point where I believe we need to look at cutting costs within the Fire Department and transferring the costs to other organizations. Reducing the number of positions within Thunder Bay Fire will be the easiest way to reduce costs without affecting Fire response too much. Thunder Bay Fire has 210 members which is roughly the same as Thunder Bay Police currently have. So if we were to cut from Fire where should it go.

An increased budget should be given to Thunder Bay Police and Superior North EMS. This would allow them to hire more staff and deal with the crushing workload they are facing.

EMS responds to 25,000 calls a year with 190 front line staff. Their budget was 7.3 million dollars from the City of Thunder Bay (more from outlying communities) which increased 8.4% or $568,100. I was unable to find information on the level of calls from the same period as Thunder Bay Fire provided. I was able to find their future growth in calls and they believe it to be staggering. Superior North EMS calls the next 10 years the ‘age tsunami’ as many in Thunder Bay grow beyond the 65+ range and become “super-users” of EMS resources. The call volumes of 911 calls are expected to rise substantially while their resources continue to be stretched by a slow turn around rate at the hospital, and aging population and burn out by paramedics. If we were to reduce the costs associated with Thunder Bay Fire I believe that this is where a majority of the money should be spent. Thunder Bay’s population is aging and the resources are being stretched to their limit. If we don’t provide the service with an adequate amount of money it will break and fall apart. This service is expecting major jump in call volume while the Fire department is seeing a steady volume of calls. We can trim at the fire service in order to provide the necessary tools where they are needed the most. Superior North EMS average cost per call is $292 dollars per call which is much lower then the $3300 it costs for the Fire Department. Many of the calls they both respond too with EMS taking over and providing more extensive medical services. There is an opportunity to provide better medical care by giving paramedics the money they need to deal with the upcoming ‘age tsunami’.

Thunder Bay Police are struggling to meet the demand that the social issues of Thunder Bay are bringing on the community. More and more Thunder Bay Police are being called to deal with people who are intoxicated in a public place. The addictions issue in Thunder Bay is crushing Police, EMS and hospital resources as they deal with these people. Thunder Bay has one of the highest custody rates for a public intoxication charge then anywhere in the province. Per 100,000 people Thunder Bay Police dealt with 5,695 calls where Toronto Police only dealt with 792. Call volumes have remained relatively the same since 2006 being just north of 50,000 a year. Reportable crimes have increased though since 2006 crossing the 26,000 mark annually. Thunder Bay Police’s annual budget is 35.2 million dollars of which a majority like all departments is wages. Average cost per call is $704 when dealing with the 50,000 + calls to Thunder Bay Police or $1353 when dealing with a reportable call. Murders and domestics have been an increased issue for Thunder Bay Police to deal with above everything else. Since 2010 there have been 15 murders in Thunder Bay of which 13 have had someone charged as a result of their murder. Murders are a huge resource drain on police forces as many officers are involved in the investigation of the scene and after work. It also ties up many officers time as a result for court purposes. Domestics are another issue plaguing Thunder Bay of which many are a result of the social issues facing the city. Thunder Bay Police investigated 1,104 cases in 2004 and that number has jumped to 2,218 in 6 years. Domestics on average can take an officer off the road for 6-8 hours (almost a full shift) and have gotten so bad that Thunder Bay Police have dedicated a unit to deal with domestics now. These numbers are expected to increase as the social problems in this city continue to get worse. Talking to a Thunder Bay Police officer he said “Things are only getting worse, this year is the busiest I have ever been but I say that every year. There are more calls and we have less officers on the road” – 7 year veteran of Thunder Bay Police.

This blog post is not meant to say that Thunder Bay Fire doesn’t do a good job or doesn’t deserve the wages they earn. If a perfect world we could keep paying them that and hire on more to make their jobs easier but this is not a perfect world. We need to make the tough decisions in order to have a strong emergency service in the future. We need to use the stats to make the proper decisions and the tough ones. Thunder Bay fire’s calls are likely to remain stable which means there is room to cut and save some money for other departments whose calls are increasing. I thank all of the emergency services for the job that they do and am glad that there are people willing to do those jobs. We need to make the tough decisions and cut where we can to provide for those who need it. With an aging population and the expectation that the population will drop there comes a time when the money wont be there and cuts will be much more severe then if we do it now.

I would like to know the thoughts of any emergency responders on this topic. Whats it like in your city? Whats your city doing about it. Thunder Bay Fire/EMS and Police what are your thoughts on this topic.

References:

http://www.thunderbay.ca/Assets/Living/Fire+$!26+Rescue+Services/docs/2012-2016+Strategic+Master+Fire+Plan.pdf -> Page 12 table 4
http://www.thunderbay.ca/Assets/City+Government/Finance+$!26+Budgets/docs/Budget+2013/2013+Tax+Supported+Community.pdf -> Page 4-2 and 4-3
http://www.tbnewswatch.com/news/290757/Parity-problems
http://www.superiornorthems.com/Assets/Superior+North+EMS/docs/Superior+North+EMS+Strategic+Plan+2013-2017.pdf
http://www.tbnewswatch.com/news/221391/Rising-domestics
http://www.thunderbaypolice.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/Business%2BPlan%2B2012%2Bto%2B2014.pdf -> page 9,12 and 13
http://www.thunderbay.ca/Assets/City+Government/Finance+$!26+Budgets/docs/Budget+2013/2013+Tax+Supported+Outside+Boards.pdf -> page 9-6 to 9-11

Devastation of a sacred area

Thunder Bay and Region are under a rainfall advisory as the rain continues to fall and the total jumps from 50 to 70 mm of rain over the last couple days. This rainfall and flood watch are extremely scary for some residents of this region as it was almost 1 year ago that the biggest storm in a century hit. Thunder Bay was devastated with over 3000 homes damaged by water and sewage as the treatment plant in Thunder Bay received 13X the regular flow. This time it seems that the worst is affecting Fort William First Nation, the community who’s land Thunder Bay sits on. As the water has come off the mountain and hit the lower lying areas it has flooded homes and washed out roads. The community is now in a state of emergency and people are being evacuated to higher ground for their own protection. In many instances like this people look to religion to comfort them and to provide peace for their friends and family. For First Nations the pow wow ground is a scared area to provide thanks to the ancestors and the creator and be joyful for the future. This area would be the same as a church to a catholic or a synagog to a Muslim. This is an area that should be respected even if one does not follow or believe in that religion or practice.

Today, I have to report that the Pow Wow space on FWFN was desecrated by people who decided to use the land as a place to go ‘mudding’. The land which was repaired after someone did the same thing last year was destroyed by 3 or 4 vehicles. Land ripped apart by the tires and huge holes and the driver hit the accelerator. If that wasn’t enough; one of the people had the tenacity to threaten a women (with kids in the vehicle) for taking photos of what they were doing. This act was done by 3 or 4 Caucasian males who scattered when they realized that they were going to be getting in trouble. Luckily, one of the drivers were caught but the other 2 are still out their needing to be caught. This act of vandalism has destroyed an area that the people of Fort William First Nation hold dear and will likely affect their plans to use the sight. This act has taken the space that Aboriginal people hold dear in the time when they needed it the most. This act is childish and the people who caused the damage need to be held accountable for their actions. There are an abundance of spaces that these people could have gone to have their fun and this action was done with the intent to cause harm to the Aboriginal people in Thunder Bay. This was a thought out and planned action and needs to get more then a simple slap on the wrist.

One of the methods that aboriginal people use to bring accountability to the perpetrators of criminal activity is called a healing circle. The person who commits the act must listen and apologize to every person they harmed with their actions and the community decides what is the best course of action. I believe this method is a better one for these kids then the 20 or 30 hours of community service they would get in the Canadian Justice system. This way they see the people they hurt and have to be accountable for their actions instead of hiding behind the Youth Criminal Justice Act. These boys were so eager and willing to destroy the area that when they get caught they should be forced to put it back. Repairing the area will allow for some peace and give the people who committed this act a good reason not to do it again.

The problem is that we still need to catch these people. We have 1 and need to catch the other 2. Below are photos taken at the site while they were ‘mudding’. Share the photos with friends and relatives and if you know the people responsible for this act call Crime Stoppers, Thunder Bay Police or Anishinabek Police Service. Together as a community we can figure out who did this and we can come together. These people tried to ruin this area but together we can put it back.

The link will bring you to NetNewsLedger which has been running the photos since the beginning.
http://www.netnewsledger.com/2013/05/20/mount-mckay-pow-wow-grounds-desecrated/

Tabacco Tax

Its finally starting to warm up in Thunder Bay and with the warming weather means melting snow. While the warm weather is great one thing that I notice every year is that there is a gross amount of litter left around. People have thrown wrappers, cups, needles and more all over the ground making any area look disgusting. One thing that I have noticed the most is that there are cigarette butts all over the place. It seems as if a large number of smokers believe that it is acceptable to throw their butts on the ground. Like the world is their ashtray and it doesn’t matter if they throw it on the ground. Not only are these disgusting to look at but they are terrible for the environment and the ecosystem. So how do we deal with the large number of cigarette butts on the ground that make our community look like crap? I believe there is a couple steps we can do to reduce the ugly.

1) Education: Educating people on the effects to not only the environment but the ecosystem that the butts have. If eaten by birds or other animals it can have sever health effects and can cause death. The toxins from the cigarettes can also cause damage to the water system is they are washed down into the sewers. Overall, it is a terrible end to a terrible habit and we need to explain this to people. Educating them on the effects for everyone and how it affects them will be a good start. This could be merged with the education to smokers on how to quit the habit. Its a perfect opportunity since people are on the topic and they are the only ones causing this issue(smokers).

2) Enforcement: The city has a no littering law that has been on the books for ages. This counts as part of the litter we do not want to see on city property or in the city at all. Enforcing this rule will be important to making sure that people know that it isn’t acceptable to do this in Thunder Bay. Giving out fines may not be the best option for people, forcing them to pick it up and throw it away along with a couple others may provide the biggest benefits. Schools could get involved with this as well as teacher make sure that their students throw away their butts instead of throwing them on the ground. If police and teachers were able to make their students pick up 2 extra along with the one they threw it would go a long way. Making sure that our community looks nice and has pride in the way it looks will go a long way to keeping it clean. If this is a city run program then being able to fine drivers or city employees who litter should also be an option. I don’t care if you smoke, I want to know where those butts are going.

3) Opportunity: One of the main reasions that people throw their garbage on the ground is because they don’t see an opportunity to throw it away properly. People don’t want to carry around their litter after it isn’t any use to them anymore. Putting up more garbage cans, recycling and ash trays will provide people the opportunity to throw their butts away properly. The more options people have the less excuses they can use to make our community look like crap. If the bins are there it would be expected that they would be used and this could give police the reason to give a ticket. Having them in strategic locations like city hall, the marina and other city owned lands will go a long way.

4) Clean up tax: I know smokers, I know your taxed out the bum but if you want to avoid this then stop smoking. This tax of 3% would be levied against the sale of cigarettes in the city of Thunder Bay limits. It would provide the city with a new income to pay for extra cleaners who’s job is to go around and clean up the cigarette butts. This tax would be used productively to make sure that the city looks nice and that it is presentable to the visitors and citizens. This tax wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the cooperation of Fort William First Nations imposing the same kind of tax. While this money could go to the FWFN to help keep their community clean the impact would save businesses from losing more sales. While it would be more expensive to purchase cigarettes it would serve a better purpose. The tax would provide economic opportunities for people and push people to have more pride in their community. I feel that this could be a great opportunity for both the City of Thunder Bay and Fort William First Nation to work together on tackling the major issue of cigarette butts.

These actions together could make our city look and feel much cleaner. The litter and the cigarettes butts make me wish that it was winter 24/7 sometimes. Its rather sad that people would have no pride in a community they call home even if it is temporarily. We need to work together to make sure that our community looks and feel great for all. 4 simple steps are all it could take for our community to look nicer and provide economic opportunity for more workers. While I am not sure the specifics on creating new taxes for a municipality if it is an option then we should go for it. The world is not your ashtray irresponsible smokers and you need to realize that your habit will cost you.

Return Home fund

You would figure that leaving jail after serving your time would be one of the happier days of life. The problem for many is that the person leaves a jail made of steel and brick to one of mobility issues. When someone completed their sentence they are shown the door and it is the responsibility of the person to do what they please. They are free and not a part of the judicial system anymore. The issue is that they really still are even if the Ontario Government doesn’t want to believe it. Once you are in the system you are more likely to be sucked up again into the system for a crime. Every time you get picked up the likelihood of returning increases. Typically, its a couple weeks for first time offenders but then it becomes days or hours from when a person returns to when they are back in jail. These people are stuck in the jail of The city of Thunder Bay with no way out. Many are released without any direction, any help and left.

The Thunder Bay District Jail serves almost the entire Northwest Region so the inmate population is rather well traveled. When a person is picked up and they are felt to be a risk by the courts they are remanded to the District Jail. Here they can stay for months or years while waiting on the court system to do its thing. When they are finally released from the jail, they are processed and kicked out the door. Many of these people don’t have an idea of the city life, they come from small towns or reserves and are completely overwhelmed. They are released at all hours of the day and may be left to roam the city without any directions or form of movement. The government needs to change the way it releases its inmates to avoid them becoming another stat and being picked up again. This chuck them out the back and an hour later they come in the front doesn’t work. There are a couple things that the government could be doing to make sure that these people return to their home communities.

A package of services available in the community should be the easiest way to get these people some help. Shelters, addiction services and directions to get their should be given to these people as they leave. Calling the nearest shelter to give them a heads up that the person may be heading their way. Providing the person with some basic information could help them succeed in avoiding a return to the justice system.

Change the release times. In the winter it is unacceptable to release someone when they have missed transit services and have to walk 30/40 minutes at a time with barely anything on. In the winter a inmate should only be released from 9 am – 8 pm. While this might be viewed as unacceptable by some inmates, its important to preserve life and release them when they have a better chance at transit services. Summer time could continue as normal since the elements aren’t as dangerous to the human body.

Create a fund to return these people to their home communities. It must be daunting to come from a town of 1,000 or less to a city of 110,000. The Ontario government needs to create a fund to help get these people home to their communities. Host communities of district jails are seeing huge increases in policing costs because of people who are now stuck in that community. Creating a fund would allow for that person to return to their home communities since the police wont return them home. While the Ontario government cannot afford to supplement this alone the inmate could be responsible for some as well. It could be a 60/40 split between the government and the inmate on their bus/plane ticket home. Returning people home helps to relieve the host community but also allows to the inmate a stable environment which they are familiar too. Again it will be important to give the inmate information on addictions and assistance agencies in their home community.

We cannot continue to swallow up people in the justice system. Yes, there are people that will never leave due to their addictions and poverty but there are people we can help. We need to help these people before they become institutionalized and get them back into the community. There is still an opportunity with most of the people in the institution to return them to normal society and have them become productive parts of society.