I was disappointed to read the jeer in the paper directed at local business owners for a letter of concern written to mayor and council.
This letter called attention to the recent and significant increase in problematic/criminal behaviour downtown and suggested possible solutions. As someone who works downtown, I have seen the changes and know exactly where the concerns lie.
To be very clear: the letter to mayor and council is absolutely not because business owners are merely worried about profits or presenting a pristine aesthetic downtown.
There are legitimate concerns regarding (but not limited to) a huge increase in shoplifting, sale and use of methamphetamine, damage to property, and the harassment of employees and customers.
Business owners have a responsibility to protect their employees and their livelihoods, and should not be criticized for asking for help in doing so.
This letter was not about complaining or pointing fingers, and to dismiss it as such ignores the crucial point. It was a call to action so that mayor and council understand what we are experiencing on a daily basis and can take appropriate actions to make residents safer.
Already the O.P.P. has created three new initiatives to combat these problems. Mayor June Caul is talking with business owners and working towards solutions.
MPP Greg Rickford is now looking into the matter of petty theft and other “unimportant” charges being dismissed in court, leaving businesses to suffer the losses and the criminals free to re-offend.
They have all taken these matters seriously without suggesting the business owners are being callous and insensitive to those less fortunate just because they've requested that everyone downtown refrain from committing crimes. It's discouraging that people on social media can't do the same.
From one perspective, the business owners may be trying to “push the problem back under the rug,” but I see them bringing issues to everyone's attention, discussing solutions, and taking actions to keep people safe.
I have a great deal of admiration for the letter writer for all of the work done on this and I thank everyone who signed it.