The city's roughly doubled municipal law enforcement presence at Greater Sudbury Housing Corporation locations has been well-received by at least two Rumball Terrace residents.
“To see a security guard is a great deterrent,” 20-year resident James Dolbeck said, adding that the move will likely save the city money in the end by deterring things such as vandalism.
During 2023 budget deliberations last month, city council voted in favour of increasing the number of full-time municipal law enforcement officers at Sudbury Housing’s 16 locations from three (plus four part-timers) to eight total, plus security cameras monitored 24/7 from a security room at 720 Bruce Ave.
Though Dolbeck and his partner, two-year resident Patricia Crawford, maintain that in-person, 24/7 security would be preferred at Rumball Terrace, both welcome the prospect of additional roaming security.
Rumball Terrace is located at the Four Corners in Sudbury’s South End, and includes two 11-storey buildings at 1960 Paris Street; a 162-unit building for families and a 101-unit building for adults.
Citing various instances of vandalism, drug use and mental health-related concerns among those who reside at or visit the adults’ building, Crawford said it’s the city’s obligation to do something about it.
Many of the people who live in the geared-to-income units can’t exactly pick up and leave if they feel unsafe, she said, citing long wait lists for alternative accommodations, which are likely to be accompanied by the same level of security as Rumball Terrace.
“A lot of these people that live in these buildings, they have no other place to go,” she said. “This is the end of the line for them.”
During his 20 years at the building, Dolbeck said he has felt increasingly unsafe, and now keeps a baseball bat by the front door as a personal security measure.
Security concerns at Greater Sudbury Housing Corporation locations are well-known to City of Greater Sudbury staff, and inspired the business case for the increased security detail city council approved during 2023 budget meetings.
In the months leading up to the business case’s approval, a pilot project beginning in April 2022 saw the city hire four part-time municipal law enforcement officers, who were in addition to the three full-time and four part-time permanent officers already in place.
This resulted in increased patrols at the city’s 16 housing locations, including Rumball Terrace, city Corporate Security and By-Law Services manager Stefany Mussen told Sudbury.com.
In January and February 2022, a total of 359 active patrols took place, versus 801 during the same time period in 2023.
“Prior to April 2022, we did not have the municipal law enforcement response between the hours of midnight and eight in the morning,” Mussen said, adding the city now has 24/7 response, including a more than doubling of focused patrols.
These patrols, according to the business case, “are meant to be a preventative measure against crime and social disorder. The increase in presence also creates a feeling of safety for tenants and staff.”
From April 27, 2022, to Feb. 14, 2023, the city responded to 273 noise complaints, 95 parking complaints, and 669 security issues and concerns such as loitering and trespassing at Greater Sudbury Housing Corporation locations. These calls are in addition to patrols and escorting city staff to units identified as health and safety concerns.
At 720 Bruce Ave., which receives the greatest volume of complaints, police calls have reduced by 17 per cent since the pilot program came into operation.
The service enhancement city council approved last month will make permanent a staffing complement of eight full-time municipal law enforcement officers for Sudbury Housing locations.
The intention is to allow for enough officers to “be able to effectively respond to incidents at any hour of the day,” according to the business case.
Increased security is “a win-win for everyone involved,” Dolbeck said, adding that he’s hopeful it will deter some of the issues residents have been dealing with.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.