Some residents in the city’s south core say they're scared because armed robberies, drugs, drunks and prostitutes are commonplace near their homes. In the past month convenience stores near the Victoriaville Mall area have been robbed several times.
Some residents in the city’s south core say they're scared because armed robberies, drugs, drunks and prostitutes are commonplace near their homes.
In the past month convenience stores near the Victoriaville Mall area have been robbed several times. One of the stores most often struck is on Syndicate Avenue. The convenience store was once robbed twice in two days on May 22 and 23.
Neighbours in the Dease Street area say this kind of behaviour isn’t out of the ordinary, and add that the problems go beyond late-night and early-morning corner store robberies. Some residents say they’ve often witnessed fistfights in the middle of the streets and have spotted drunks and hookers urinating on sidewalks.
Fusaye Goldberg and her husband have lived near the Dease Street neighbourhood for about 25 years. She says she locks both her inside door and the door to her front porch even when she is home because of stories she’s heard from neighbours about people breaking into homes while residents are there.
It's a problem that's getting worse, she says.
"I don’t think the street is safe," Goldberg said. "There are a lot of drunks staggering up the streets and obvious hookers at night. Early in the morning, I hear them fighting. They come onto the porch. It’s not a very nice street."
Charmaine Cades moved into the area about 20 years ago. Both her daughters attend a public school nearby. Cades walks with her daughters to school and says they are often forced to walk by prostitutes.
She adds that she doesn’t know whether crime is worse today than it was years ago, but says she believes more prostitutes have migrated to this area from Simpson Street. Cades says she assumes that drug problems have or will move in with the prostitutes.
Her 16-year-old daughter Madison works at McDonalds. Cades says she’s glad her daughter works for the fast-food chain and not the convenience store because people, who appear to be drunk, often hang around that store.
"They have to be mini social workers," she said. "I’m glad my daughter isn’t working there. I’d be concerned for her safety. If closing the stores earlier means less dangerous people on the street I’m OK with that. This area always had a high crime rate,"
Some people have suggested closing 24-hour corner stores at night could help stop some of the robberies. Having cages around employees at the cash register, or providing the store with a late-night walk-up window have also been suggested.
Twelve-year-old McKenna says area corner stores might profit from having a cleaner image, and suggests making the area look nicer by placing a garden in the back alley.
"If I worked at that (store), I’d be scared," McKenna said.
But not everyone sees the area from the same perspective.
Just a short walk from Victoriaville Mall, Monika McNabb settles into her retirement home on Archibald Street that she moved into about two years ago. She’s lived in both the Port Arthur and Fort William areas of town but says it wasn’t until she lived in Edmonton that she became the victim of a break-in.
She says her south-side Thunder Bay neighbourhood is as safe as any other in the city and adds that crime can happen anywhere.
"It’s really unfortunate," McNabb said. "Safety is a big issue. There aren’t many areas in the city where I do feel safe. I think every area is vulnerable to crime and vandalism."
Westfort Coun. and police service board member Joe Virdiramo, whose riding borders the McKellar Ward, says he doesn’t think crime in the south core is completely out of control. But the councillor admits that it is definitely a concern.
"I’ve been here since ‘94 and we haven’t had an incident at my house," Virdiramo said. "Two years ago something happened to my neighbour but it is not rampant on our street."
He says police are working hard to try to prevent further crime in the area.
Chris Adams, executive officer with Thunder Bay Police Service, says people justifiably see issues with their neighbourhoods. He adds that police officers dedicate more of their time patrolling the city’s south core.
"The urban cores will, unfortunately, always be areas where higher concentration of crime will occur," Adams said. "We are keenly aware of that and are continually trying to address that."
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