(THUNDER BAY, ON) – Friday night at Newfie’s is never an evening without some type of excitement. Last night was no exception to the rule, as both police and paramedics responded to the establishment at least twice.
Eyewitnesses on location have told us that there were two incidents that unfolded, the first situation is unclear what had happened, but both are alleged to have been the result of mixing illicit drugs and alcohol together. The first incident unfolded around 7:30, and had one Superior North EMS ambulance respond along with at least one Thunder Bay Police Service cruiser.
During the first incident, we are unsure if anyone was taken to the hospital, but we have been told that violence was not involved, as it was just a medical issue. Likely a bad reaction to a drug/alcohol mix.
Later on Friday evening, police and paramedics responded to what is believed to be an overdose. We are unsure which drug was being used, but we have been told one person was taken to the hospital for further monitoring. A witness in the bar tells us that this is a regular occurrence in the area. The bar has been taking the brunt of the blame for the demise of the south downtown core. What the majority of the public seems to dismiss is the fact the south downtown core is the home to the Shelter House, where many vulnerable people utilize their services such as free needles, crack pipes, food and a place to sleep. During the day, it is common for their clientele to roam the downtown area, and Newfie’s / Victoriaville Mall are friendly places where they can linger around outside/inside and pass the time relatively until they can return to their place to sleep safely at night.
There is also another well-known issue that the people who use the Shelter House have, some have been banned from the facility for consuming alcohol or drugs in the building. Drug/alcohol addiction is considered a disease, is it humanitarian to boot these people out for something they have next to no control over if any? Our detox centre in town is often full, there has to be a better solution. Another issue is the Shelter House is often at full capacity, and they cannot allow any more people into the building due to regulations regarding the maximum capacity of the building. Could this not be waived for this building? This would allow more people to gain access to warmth and comfort, instead of standing outside the building waiting for someone to leave to they may enter.
There is no establishment, including the Shelter House that is to blame for the social issues the south downtown core is facing. The reality is that the system is failing to help the people that need help the most. City Councillor Aldo Ruberto has been pushing for the “Tiny Homes” project, but in the time of the previous council, he was unable to drum up interest. It will be interesting to see how our new councillors address the issue, as many campaigned on helping Thunder Bay’s homeless situation.
Lori Paras, the owner of “The Hub” has been pushing behind the scenes and in public for solutions that would help our most vulnerable citizens. City Councillor Brian Hamilton has also been pushing for new ideas and action to directly address the issues of homelessness and drug use. Hamilton has gone around the city on numerous occasions handing out meals to people who would otherwise go without that day.
The solution to Thunder Bay’s issues is not ignoring them, this has not worked ever in the history of mankind. The pressure is on our new city councillors to immediately begin addressing the issues they campaigned on.
Our police and paramedics are constantly responding to drug and alcohol abuse related problems, and a substantial amount of those calls are homeless people who are lost and need help. Medicine Hat has successfully addressed the matter in their home. The question is begging to be asked, what is preventing our city from providing proper help to get people off the street, housed, and improving their quality of life? Provincial and federal members of parliament, City councillors, First Nations leaders, and Mayor Bill Mauro, please consider this an open invitation to inform the citizens of Thunder Bay as to what the plan going forward is, and when we can expect to see a plan in action.
Note: Don’t give me that crap that they shouldn’t be using drugs or alcohol, until you’ve suffered what they have, and are seeking anything to dull the pain, you have no clue. Drugs and alcohol is not the solution, but it is a symptom of a larger problem. Address the issues, don’t sidestep them over that all too often lame-duck excuse that they “do it to themselves”.