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Sudbury's community leaders issue a public safety pledge

Mayor, police chief and public health doctor speak out on safety concerns
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Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger, Police Chief Paul Pedersen (pictured) and chief public health officer Dr. Penny Sutcliffe have issued a combined public statement pledging to keep community members safe. (File)

Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger, Police Chief Paul Pedersen and chief public health officer Dr. Penny Sutcliffe have issued a combined public statement pledging to keep community members safe.

The joint statement on community safety was released in an email by the mayor's office Friday afternoon in response to the community discussions "about the state of the downtown." 

Bigger said he wants to assure city residents that their safety is paramount.

"I want you to know we are doing everything we can, along with our community partners, to protect you and keep you safe," said the mayor's statement. 

Bigger made reference to concerns about safety in the downtown area, along with the opioid crisis and homelessness. 

Chief Pedersen made reference to substance addictions, homeless people and those with mental health challenges, as well as the violent attack that occurred earlier this week when a man died after being stabbed with a bladed weapon on Elm Street.

In her statement, Sutcliffe made reference to mental health concerns, poverty, food insecurity, housing instability, racism, homophobia and transphobia.

In each case, the community leaders gave assurances that the city is aware of the challenges and work is being done to improve things. 

"There have been many discussions about the state of the downtown. I am in constant contact with the downtown BIA and its members to find solutions to some of the issues faced there. I am meeting with staff to help clean up the downtown and employ measures to keep it safer," said the mayor.

Pedersen said the perception of public safety "has significantly declined during the COVID-19 pandemic" and has forced many vulnerable residents to be displaced into the downtown core. He said stepped-up enforcement is not always the best answer.  

"We recognize that the increased visibility of homelessness and those living with addictions and mental health illnesses impacts the perception of safety, however, we know that enforcement is not a suitable or sustainable way to address these concerns. We continue to work with our community partners through the Community Drug Strategy, Community Mobilization Sudbury and the Downtown Strategy to make wraparound services accessible to our most vulnerable population," said Pedersen.

"While health care and lifestyle behaviours are important, we know that health is also the result of social and economic factors and conditions that influence the daily environments in which we live, work, play, learn, and grow. Public Health Sudbury & Districts has a long history of working to improve health equity to ensure everyone has the opportunity to achieve their full health potential," said Sutcliffe. 

"We are proud to work shoulder to shoulder with so many partners to build stronger communities. Every person deserves the opportunity to be healthy and to practise healthy behaviours.”

The mayor said the joint statement is proof that city leaders are listening to the community and working together. He said the challenges being faced in Sudbury are not unlike the challenges being faced in most cities across Canada right now.




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