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Social services board reviews security at social housing sites

A longtime tenant at Andras Court calls for measures to stop non-residents from getting unauthorized access.
Andras Court
A man died from stab wounds after an assault at Andras Court on Cumberland St. on Sept. 24, 2022

THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board  is reviewing security measures at TBDSSAB-owned buildings.

It comes as welcome news to long-term Andras Court tenant Jerry Estey, who says "security here hasn't been good for quite awhile."

Last weekend, a man died from stab wounds suffered in an assault at the 221-unit apartment complex on South Cumberland Street.  

The security review is not connected to that incident, as it was previously approved in the board's 2022 budget.

CAO Bill Bradica says the study has been completed, but won't be presented to the board until a Nov. 17 meeting.

In response to an inquiry from TBnewswatch about the incident at Andras Court, Bradica said, "There are security measures in place, however the investigation itself is a police matter, and we cannot comment on anything that may impact the police investigation."

He said in a statement Wednesday that TBDSSAB is "keenly aware" that violence occurs in residences across the district.

"We remain dedicated to the safety and well-being of our tenants in all buildings. Staff have been on site to support the tenants through these traumatic events."

Residents of Andras Court have expressed concern in the past about security in the wake of numerous incidents of violence, including homicides.

The social services board said in 2017 that security personnel were on-site seven days a week from 9 p.m. through 5 a.m.

It also committed to installing dozens of additional cameras in the building, as well as new LED lighting inside and outside.

Strangers entering the building 'are here for drugs' 

Estey, though, feels it's clear that more needs to be done.

The former president of the Andras Court Tenants Association has lived in the building with his wife for 15 years.

He said the situation is so bad that seniors are afraid to leave their apartments after 6 p.m. because there are too many strangers wandering the halls.

"People who don't live here are getting in on a regular basis somehow, without the fob for the door. It's not nice."

He said there's no doubt many of these individuals are coming for drugs.

"We do have a number of apartments here that deal in drugs, and it just seems the police can't get rid of them. They come and clean them out, and then a couple of days later they're back in here again."

According to Estey, the presence of security cameras in every hallway hasn't been much of a deterrence.

"There's drinking outside. There's the drugs inside. People are having stuff stolen from outside their apartment doors. They need to do something here."

One thing he'd like to see is security personnel on site 24 hours a day, situated in the lobby of each of the two buildings in the complex.

He believes a sign-in procedure in the lobby would also mitigate the risk of non-tenants gaining unauthorized entry.

Thunder Bay Police continue their investigation into the Sept. 24 homicide.

A spokesperson said Tuesday that detectives have identified a number of witnesses as well as persons of interest they wish to speak to.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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