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2013-01-09 at 15:23

Living in fear

By Jeff Labine,
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THUNDER BAY -- The problems of the city's south core can be seen through the rear window of Donna Kolcz's home.

She lives in an apartment just off Donald Street for four year. The bedroom and office room windows of that apartment look down onto George Street, the scene of a recent stabbing near the Thunder Bay Shelter House.

“I’m scared,” Kolcz said.

“A lot of people around here who are older are all afraid to go out at night. You don’t dare go out at night.”

Thunder Bay Police Service responded to a call about a stabbing on George Street just before 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Officers arrived, found a 31-year-old-man on the ground outside the Shelter House, and later found a 34-year-old-man inside the facility.

Police say both men were bleeding from stab wounds.

Kolcz said she fears that the Shelter House is being misused by people who aren’t homeless and are simply using it as a place to crash after going to the bar.

In order to increase police presence in the area, officers started patrols in near Victoriaville Mall. But Kolcz said that does nothing to give her peace of mind.

“The police cannot keep up,” she said. “The money they are spending on emergency vehicles could be going towards more police. We could have more foot patrols. We’re woken up every morning at two or 3 a.m. to yelling and screaming.”

She added that emergency vehicles like fire trucks and ambulances are frequently seen from her apartment window.

Patty Hajdu, executive director at the Shelter House, said violent incidents like the one on Tuesday are a rare occurrence. Most of the time when emergency services are called it is for health related matters, she said.

There’s a zero tolerance for violence at the Shelter House and police are called immediately. Hajdu said they have policies in place to make sure staff, clients and volunteers are safe.

“We’re seeing increased desperation out there,” she said. “The housing market is incredibly tight. Shelter stays are longer and longer and people are not gaining access to drug and alcohol addiction services or even primary care services for that matter.”

The Shelter House fed an average of 650 meals a day last month. Hajdu said that proves the need is growing so the city has to sit down and form a strategy to find solutions.


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Tannoy says:
The city has to get on these issues sooner rather than later!
1/9/2013 4:11:49 PM
ring of fire dude says:
Pretty sad state of affairs our City has to put up with , I've seen that area of town and it's becoming a slum , in fact all the residences where the recent murders and stabbings have taken place are all slums , who owns these places ?
1/9/2013 4:31:24 PM
young&concerned says:
You are going to have to put up with this for another year and half or so! Mr "Fix it" will be relieved of his duties then.

Hobbs this is a direct quote from you

“I came out in September 2009 about the high crime rate in Thunder Bay.” “That crime rate is higher then that of Dallas Texas.”

“Vote Keith Hobbs for mayor for a safer community”

If our crime rate was that of Dallas Texas back in 2009…What city are we being compared to today?

Answer Please
1/9/2013 5:07:07 PM
smoke stack says:
probably no city will compare to thunder bay. thunder bay will be the trailblazer of all north american cities leading in all crime categories. Pick your laundry list of crimes and thunder bay will be ranked number 1. Blame it on the weak leadership at the top the mayor, police chief, the dinosaurs on city council,crime prevention council have all failed this city.
1/10/2013 8:28:25 AM
Tannoy says:
Im not sure how we are the "trailblazers of all north american cities", we dont have any problems unique to thunder bay, every city faces the same problems, we just have a higher percent to population that puts us high on the list. Winnipeg had something like 37 murders last yeah, not all of those were people known to eachother, Thunder Bay had 6.. all knew eachother. Larger cities have more incidents of each crime. Thunder Bay has its sketchy areas of town for sure, areas that do need attention, but other cities have the same type of areas. Crime is not just a Thunder Bay problem. Keith Hobbs is not the cause of crime in our city either, nor is he the reason its not going down, theres more at play here then a few words spoken from a politician.
1/10/2013 9:30:10 AM
panzerIV says:
Shelter House doesn't allow anyone in who is visibly intoxicated or who the workers believe is intoxicated. So going to a bar and then sleeping there is 99% of the time a no go.

When I volunteered at the shelter house, there was a number of people who were living there simply because the cost of rent was so unaffordable. They couldn't afford the rent and were forced into the streets. There was also a lot of mental illness and people who likely would be better off in a hospital then forced onto there own.

The problem with the south core being the administrative district is that nothing goes on there past 430. Everyone leaves and the only ones who stay are the occasional business owner, residents or people living at the shelter house. There are no eyes to stop people from doing things and no activity to prevent crime.

We do need more programs like the Shelter House wine program to help treat these people though.
1/9/2013 5:52:49 PM
damanisback says:
1/9/2013 6:00:25 PM
Kam River says:
Members of City Council and Aldo Ruberto, think it is more important to spend $250,000 on top of the Million Plus now spent on bike lane for the Starbucks crowd and their bike lanes Than provide protections to people like this lady.

Election time is not that far away Hope people will look at who votes for public safety verse and these feel good money wasting social program. By the Tax and Spend liberals on council.
1/9/2013 6:01:17 PM
dad3192 says:
Where are all the people coming from that use the shelter? Are they residents or do they just show up and never leave??
1/9/2013 8:40:30 PM
michyj32 says:
Some people staying at Shelter House are youth that have been kicked out of their parents home, some are people from Thunder Bay that are either on disability, pension, or ontario works and do not make enough money to pay for rent, food and hydro. Some are transients some have mental illness, and some are addicted to drugs and alcohol. They have a specific amount of time they are allowed to stay at Shelter House and have resources available to help them find accommodation. Thunder Bay housing is a grueling process that is difficult for most of these people to complete, the city of thunder bay only has 8 detox beds, getting into treatment is extremely hard and when an addict is ready to quit they need help that minute but there is a lengthy process that is discouraging and most find it easier to keep using drugs. If you want to fix some of these problems get rid of the red tape, have more detox beds, make the housing process simpler.
1/10/2013 7:24:32 AM
Meta says:
You can thank the DSSAB and the chair MrAngus for adding the crime and trouble in the south core.
They just had to build the Taj Mahah of social services buildings that draws all the riff raff to this area. Look at all the issues SINCE the social services palace was built. The whole area is dangerous day or night.
1/10/2013 7:11:51 AM
crowbar says:
You guys need a Dexter Morgan in Thunder Bay.
1/10/2013 8:40:19 AM
dotnairn says:
Well said `michyj32`. Lets focus on the underlying issues! Could not agree more.
1/10/2013 8:54:15 AM
anarnosti says:
This is not just an issue for the Shelter House... this is a very big issue for the whole south core... I work on May/Victoria and live on Syndicate Avenue. Between the drug deals, drunks, fights, robberies, the murder in my back lane a few months back, etc etc I wont leave my house after dark. I walk home from work and I take the longest route because it keeps me near traffic. I have to call Superior Point to clean up needles 3 times a week. Its a combination between the Shelter, Victoriaville, Newfies Pub and the bus terminal. The cops that walk around make them go away but as soon as the cops leave their back.. its a never ending battle. I walk past 2-3 piles of blood on the ground every morning. I see the fights at the bar from my window and have broken windows at work regularly. I sure hope the new courthouse cleans things up a bit. Maybe its high hopes but i'm hoping.
1/10/2013 9:03:32 AM
blahbaty says:
I think it's about time we call batman to clean up this city
1/10/2013 9:24:29 AM
Young Professional says:
I find disgusting how people can assume that anyone using the services of the shelter house is automatically a criminal. The social stigma surrounding these people and their problems does not serve to help anyone. Whether it be the people with addictions/low income or the lady that is afraid to walk around her neighbourhood. I live in this area and I am not afraid to go for a walk. If you look at the crimes that take place, the people are all known to each other. When is the last time a random person was attacked by a stranger? Perhaps if we stopped judging these people based on their social standing, and put a little faith in human decency, we could all live a happier life.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Maybe we should stop calling these people criminals and start helping them get their lives on track in a positive way...
1/10/2013 9:29:09 AM
michyj32 says:
I agree totally...I wish this woman would come to volunteer at the shelter house and meet some of the residents, talk to some of the staff and maybe she would feel more comfortable. There is an elderly lady that volunteers mostly on Friday and Saturday evenings and lives in the area and she walks home at 9 or 10 when she is done. She is well known to the staff and clients and feels good about doing her part to help people in need.
1/11/2013 2:43:59 AM
loring says:
correction mr angus is no longer the chair of tbdssab
1/10/2013 10:11:45 AM
riv3rc4rd says:
You people think thunder bay is the worst crime city in north america?? you people make me laugh. There is far worse city's out there. Be thankful you live here.
1/10/2013 10:49:15 AM
keiths31 says:
Wasn't there just a murder in the north core last week on Vila street? I am sure if the stats were shown, the murders in this city are pretty equally spread out between the north and south sides of the city. The same with assaults and robberies.
1/10/2013 11:18:36 AM
MD says:
I agree. If you go on the Thunder Bay police website and into the crime mapping area you can see where certain reported crimes have taken place. It's not 100% accurate but it can break down where certain crimes are happening and it looks very balanced between the north and south sides.
1/10/2013 1:16:43 PM
oscarmyerweiner says:
Seems to me the judicial system is really to blame. When you can kill someone and get less than 7 years or even less when 1.5x for time already served is just sicking. When you get house arrest for selling drugs and continue on in society or less than a year for armed robbery or break and enters. The police are doing their jobs it's the criminal laws that are failing. I think we need to have harsher penalties for violent crimes such as murder, rape and armed robberies. First offense 10 years ON TOP of time served. Second offense 20 years. If they haven't learned yet give them life or even the death penalty. (cue the anti death panelists now) If they haven't figured out how to act in society in 30 years than they are pretty hopeless and are a burden on society and need to be removed completely. No one ever thinks of the victim's or their families. You can't bring back the dead or erase the scars from these crimes. Maybe then criminals will think before they act.
1/10/2013 11:36:28 AM
Bruce says:
What is the police doing about this?? NOTHING!!
1/14/2013 12:09:31 PM
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