Thank you to residents in our downtown area who participated in the Community Safety Workshop at Central Public School on Alexander St. The meeting was organized at the request of former Councillor Gael Miles, who together with neighbours, has been experiencing an increasing number of incidents in their neighbourhood. Over 40 residents participated along with representatives from Peel Police, Region of Peel Human Services, By-law Enforcement, City Security, the City’s Community Safety team, Welcoming Streets Outreach, Regeneration Outreach, Mayor Brown, Councillor Santos and Councillor Vicente and their support teams.
We take community safety very seriously and are committed to working with residents to advance and implement effective solutions. As local residents in the downtown area with children, Mayor Brown, Councillor Santos and Councillor Vicente experience the same challenges as residents do everyday. All orders of government, community organizations and individuals must be part of the solution to deal with the complexities of crime, addictions, mental health challenges, homelessness and affordability issues.
The Community Safety team will follow-up with a report to be shared with the Councillor offices. A summary of the workshop is included below for reference and for those that could not attend.
Gael Miles, who requested the meeting, welcomed residents and thanked everyone for attending. Mayor Brown provided further context by highlighting some of the challenges and solutions that City Council has been dealing with including auto theft, police response times and road safety.
Everyone is susceptible. One of our council members had his car stolen twice from his driveway. As a country, Canada has more cars stolen and shipped overseas than the United States, a country 10x our population. The theft of high end vehicles is now the 3rd largest revenue source for organized crime. Peel Police has taken a leadership role in addressing this growing problem by working with port authorities in Ontario and Quebec, car manufacturers and insurance companies while also making significant arrests across the GTA. As a city, Faraday Pouches have been distributed in hot-spot areas and were provided to attendees of the workshop. These pouches help prevent electronic signal theft from keyfobs, making it more difficult to steal a car off of your driveway while you sleep.
More Police Officers
A budget increase for 70 officers was approved for Peel Police in the past year. This increase of officers will result in faster response times and higher visibility of Peel Police. The average 911 wait time has also gone down from 90 to 70 seconds as a result of adding 10 new staff to 911. Our goal is to get the response time down even more as we also continue to address an increase in accidental and inappropriate calls. The Mayor is also on record saying that resources will not be an obstacle when it comes to providing what is needed for Peel Police.
While road safety continues to be an issue, we are seeing a reduction in average speeds in community safety zones as a result of layered traffic calming measures to include road diets, speed bumps and automated speed enforcement cameras. We are continuing to invest in these solutions and work with residents to address their specific needs and prioritize the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
Community Safety Office
As a city, we have also implemented a new Community Safety Office with a team who are working on comprehensive short term tactics and long term solutions. The team helped facilitate an effective discussion to tackle these 3 local issues as identified by residents:
- Crime and Crime Prevention
- Homelessness, Encampments and Mental Health & Addictions
- Property Standards and Rental Units, Neighbourhood Associations
1. Crime and Crime Prevention
Peel Police stressed the importance of reporting incidents to them and taking advantage of the Community Liaison Officer (CLO). The CLO is a first point of contact for neighbourhoods and is responsible for communication between residents and the various units within Peel Police Services. The CLO for the Central Public School Neighbourhood is Constable Jana Marchese #3644, Phone: 905-453-2121 x2260, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Residents were surprised to hear that so far in 2023, only 40 Break & Enter incidents have been reported in the area bounded by Williams Pkwy, Kennedy Rd, Queen St and Main St. The Bike Unit stressed that they are a complaint based unit and prioritize issues based on identified trouble spots. Trouble spots cannot be identified unless residents share information with the police.
Please contact your CLO, crime stoppers, make a report online, call the non-emergency police phone line (905-453-3311) or call 911 for emergencies such as crimes in progress. Every report helps the police to track and identify troublespots and allocate their resources effectively.
Peel Police also restarted their highly popular in-person Crime Prevention Academy. The program teaches the basics of crime prevention, vehicle safety, home security, personal safety and fraud prevention. The courses are led by police experts and provide essential knowledge to protect you, your family, and your property. Registration for the fall session is open and runs 5 consecutive Tuesdays beginning November 7, 2023, 7pm to 9:30pm. Find out more here. A resident suggestion was also made to offer these academy programs locally within the community. We think this is a great idea and will be following up.
Residents identified the specific problems of speeding, drugs, lack of police response and break & enters. The solutions offered by residents include:
- Providing more resources to support the homeless, including more shelter space, addiction services and mental health services
- Increased police foot patrols and more police presence in the community
- A ticketing system that helps track the status of reported issues
- More communication on the city website on programs and services available
- Increased communication with neighbours (email, whatsapp groups)
2. Homelessness, Encampments and Mental Health & Addictions
Sean Baird, the Commissioner of Human Services at the Region of Peel shared a compelling picture of the unprecedented demand for services from those who are struggling with the current economic environment. Specifically, the downtown Brampton area is identified as 1 of 5 homeless hotspot areas in the region. There has been a 167% increase in makeshift encampments. 57 areas have been identified in downtown, with the largest being at Calvert Park.
The solution to the problems associated with encampments require both income support and permanent housing. For emergency response, the Region of Peel manages 450 beds that are currently 300% over-subscribed (for every 1 bed, there is a need for 3 more). This is compounded by the needs of refugees who have gone from 5% to 60% usage of the overall shelter system.
The Region of Peel runs an outreach team that provides responsive, mobile, multi-disciplinary human resources that meets people where they are at. The team works in partnership with community agencies to provide support, advocacy, and referrals to help people with their basic needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please call the Street Helpline at 1-877-848-8481 to report someone in need of emergency shelter services, substance abuse or mental health support.
Many people experiencing homelessness choose to stay in encampments for a myriad of reasons. It often takes outreach workers a dozen interactions over many months to get a homeless person into the shelter system.
Residents identified specific issues including a concentration of people experiencing homelessness at the Regeneration location, a general unsafe feeling in the neighbourhood, housing affordability, and safety in the Central Public School neighbourhood and along the Etobicoke Creek Trail. Residents offered the following solutions:
- Disperse support services across the city rather than concentrated support at Regeneration
- Quicker response from Peel Police
- More funding for support programs
- More mental health services
- Safe Injection sites so that needles aren’t littered in public spaces
3. Property Standards and Rental Units, Neighbourhood Associations
Residents discussed the ongoing issues with abandoned homes, lack of property care, parking on the street, crack houses and neighbourhood associations. The upcoming Residential Rental Licensing program (RRL) will address some of these issues, and the upcoming Neighbourhood Association Guide which empowers local neighbourhoods, are expected to make a big difference in addressing these issues.
Peter Bryson, the Manager of Property Standards and Enforcement at Brampton Bylaw Services summarized the new Residential Rental Licensing program (RRL) recently approved by council to start on January 1, 2024. The RRL program is a 2 year pilot in Wards 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7. The program requires landlords to apply for a license and be subject to inspections and enforcement action. The program is expected to be effective in dealing with derelict properties and absentee landlords. Council has tasked a more proactive strategy to deal with our rapid growth and the increase in rental properties as a solution to the housing crisis.
Brampton Bylaw responds to over 15,000 calls for service annually and is asking that residents use Service Brampton’s various channel to report property standards issues so that the intake process is efficient. You can contact 311 Service Brampton on phone by dialing 311, or online at 311brampton.ca. 311 Service Brampton is also available with a mobile app.
Amanda Agnihotri, a Community Safety Advisor at the City shared a few details of the upcoming Neighbourhood Association Guide that will support residents in the city looking to organize support within their local neighbourhoods. The guide is 1 of 25 tactics that the Community Safety Office is working on and will be available by the end of 2023. Neigbhourhood Associations will be able to apply for a grant of up to $1,500 for neighbourhood projects such as community cleanups, beautification projects and events. Applications will start in the Spring of 2024 with implementation starting in Summer 2024.
Residents also raised the issue of boarded up houses along Main St. and the disrepair of some heritage homes in the area. Both Councillor Santos and Councillor Vicente are working to address the boarded up issue including the possibility of demolition. With regards to heritage homes, there are 2 grant programs currently available to assist residents. One is the Designated Heritage Property Incentive Grant which provides matching funds for eligible conservation work, and the Facade Improvement Grant Program that provides funding for commercial spaces.
Thank you to all residents for attending, engaging and being part of the solution. A special thanks to all staff who supported such a productive meeting.
For updates, upcoming meetings, or to receive a copy of the follow-up report from this meeting, please sign-up here:
Central Public School Neighbourhood Updates
Important Contact Information
Peel Police Non-Emergency Line
Community Liaison Officer for 22 Division
Constable Jana Marchese #3644
Region of Peel 24/7 Street Helpline
City of Brampton 3-1-1