THUNDER BAY — Community safety will be the focus of a public townhall-style event next month bring together local leaders, law enforcement and service providers.
The Thunder Bay Public Library will be holding a public forum on the evening of Oct. 3 at the Brodie Resource Library, featuring Mayor Ken Boshcoff, Fort William First Nation Chief Michele Solomon, Thunder Bay Police Chief Darcy Fleury, Elevate NWO executive director Holly Gauvin, and Canadian Mental Health Association Thunder Bay branch CEO Jennifer Hyslop.
"Starting these conversations in a more intentional, public democratic and accessible way will start having more follow-up discussions from it," said library CEO Richard Togman.
"[Conversations will happen] in people's living rooms, in their workplaces, at different community events like these; these are issues that aren't niche. And so these conversations need to be had."
Gauvin said she's expecting this forum will likely be different from the usual meetings and events she's asked to attend.
"I'm actually really fascinated how we were all sort of brought in together to talk about this. I'm pretty excited to be able to have really robust conversations and hear different perspectives on things," said Gauvin.
Gauvin is concerned there might be some negative parallels that might be drawn targeting certain groups in the city.
"The intensity of the homeless situation happening across Canada right now, there are going to be attempts to draw a parallel between people who are homeless, crime, and lack of safety," Gauvin said, adding she's instead hoping for compassionate questions.
"I'm hoping that we're getting some questions about what are the vulnerabilities of the people who are actually living there [in encampments across the city]. Because more often than not, they're victims, not villains."
Gauvin is also anticipating questions around the more recent instances of property crime, like the vandalism at the 55 Plus Centre and the recent number of bus shelters that have been left vandalized and damaged.
Both Togman and Gauvin recognize that the multitude of issues at hand are not for one sole agency to manage. Instead, the hopes for this event are to bring ideas to the table that could spawn long-term change in the community.
The event will have a total capacity of 120 people inside the Brodie location, and will also be streamed on the library's Facebook and YouTube pages.
Questions for the forum can be submitted online by Wednesday, though there will also be time designated during the two-hour event to open questions to the floor of those attending.
Once the evening is complete, the full video will be available through the library's website.
Registration for the event is through the same link and will open for the event at 9:30 am on Monday.