Crime Running Wild in the Sault: Some councillors respond


Last week, we asked the population of Sault Ste. Marie how they would address the crime, drugs, and overdoses running rampant in the city.

Since then I have spent hours talking, meeting and compiling complaints, and many amazing suggestions about the ongoing issues.

How to fix different crimes and where it seems to be the worst.

During one of these interactions, I witnessed more than a dozen individuals of all walks of life go in and out of a problem house in the core.

Witnessed individuals going through recycling boxes and getting on bicycles which were most likely not theirs.

We spent time and reached out to councillors, city officials, and police for both comments and to advise them we will be inviting them to a panel to be held in the near future.

Officials inside city hall have not responded to our requests for comment as of the time of writing.

The Mayor was advised of our request as well as the CAO and other individuals inside city hall.

Many councillors either didn’t respond or advised they weren’t in a position to answer.

However, three did and they are working to help address the issue.

Councillor Sandra Hollingsworth says she’s not only concerned but is taking action to hopefully address part of the ongoing issues.

“I can tell you this that I am concerned. So concerned that I asked the Mayor for an update on the potential idea of building a level 3 rehab centre. It is my understanding that it will be on the council agenda not next meeting but shortly after,” said Hollingsworth. “In addition, I’ve been in contact with Stacey Peterson, CEO of Fresh Start (a rehab centre in Alberta) who is world-renowned to learn how to start a rehab. I am just doing some fact-finding.”

Sources within the community and some research tell us this idea has been broached at city council. It has been on and off the agenda more than once in the past five years.

Residents are frustrated and disheartened their concerns aren’t being heard.

“If this was happening up on the hill or in the P patch it would be dealt with,” said a concerned resident who lives near Gore and Albert.

“We call the police and they don’t come or they come too late,” said another.

The residents are afraid to go on the record as they already have trouble with some of the addicts in the neighbourhood. They fear for the safety of themselves and their homes and families if they put their names in ink.

Councillor Matt Shoemaker has received numerous calls about these issues during his time as an elected official. He has called and spoken with the police chief and put a motion on the table for the next council meeting.

“From a council perspective we already spent upwards of $25 million per year on policing and do not have significant funds available to add to our budget in addition to that,” said Shoemaker. “I do have a motion on Monday’s city council agenda to ask staff to come up with a plan to work with a Downtown Association on increased security or surveillance in the downtown area which is seen a spike in what is classified as petty crime.”

During one of the meetings with residents, surveillance did come up. Cameras like the ones in London, England to help police the area was one suggestion.

Many of the residents have also paid out of pocket for either security systems or security companies to come and watch over their properties.

They claim to see more security patrol cars than police patrol cars in a night.

Although not a solution to the drugs and overdoses Councilor Luke Dufour advised us there is some more help coming for illicit drug users who have overdosed. The help is coming from the District Social Services Administration Board for which he is the chair.

The service is being expanded for EMS to distribute (Narcan) kits and education to the using public to ensure they have access to it within their community and providing them the means to treat a suspected overdose while waiting for EMS arrival,” said Dufour.

It is evident the issues and anger run deep in this community. Sault Online hears you and some councillors hear you.

Unfortunately, Mayor Provenzano and others within city hall although made aware of the issues seem to just want to ignore it. At least they seem not to want to acknowledge the issues publicly.

*this story has been updated after Councillor Dufour reached out to correct his previous statement seen here… “At our last meeting, we approved a plan to train and supply Narcan to our local paramedics, they will perform this service in addition to firefighters who have had the training and supplies for a number of years.”


  1. If you want to decrease the drug overdoses in the Sault, start charging the drug users for the Narcan. If they can afford to buy drugs they can certainly afford to buy the Narcan. I’m getting so tired of taking care of people who continually take advantage of the system on the taxpayer’s dime.

  2. It’s time to take it to the street sitting home and doing nothing is not working u have rights and a voice so let’s tell city council were not putting up with it any more period enough is enough

  3. It’s time to skid the current mayor he is far too comfortable and far too careless, but do not replace him with the Shoe or you will have a whole new set of compounding problems.

  4. Im glad someone has finally started to make the issues public, however I have an issue with the fact it states the city cant afford an in patoent treatment center because they spent $25 million on police, yet they are willing to supply narcan which in michigan is $100/dose usd and with all of the overdoses and addictions that are prominent in this town we will spend more money administering narcan to individuals who continually overdose or better yet the young kids who are buying drugs off the street that are most likely laced with god knows what. But still not looking into all the drugs coming to the city, not looking at holding people responsible for their actions and not following through when laws are broken. My house was broken into and robbed less than a month after i had my daughtet and the cops said must have been someone you knew and left.

  5. In southern ontario there are large security companies that work with the police department closely. Would be that hard to hire like 20 more guys at one of these local companies and pay them a decent wage, and just have there presence in patrolling these high crime areas in 12 hour shifts assisting our police force. This is very minimal cost to the city to do something this. If it mean making our city safer I’d be fine with my property taxes going up 20 dollars month at least I know where it is going.

  6. I like your take Dan, and thank you for writing an article. as for the legitimacy of the claim of increased crime, a simple google search is all it takes to confirm- that’s if you haven’t already been made a victim yourself.

  7. Just take a walk around town and talk to some business owners in the Gore and Queen area.Don’t be surprise if you happen to run into a baseball team with with Louisville Sluggers and baseball mitts.They are protecting their turf making sure all the bases are kept clean .Some times they have to clear some Rats out of the Club house.They are wily little rascals who punch holes through walls and then leave all their crap not to mention some of the crap they have taken from somewhere else.When the exterminator is called they don’t show up because their boss exterminator says he has no where to put the Rats .Now what’s happen the word has got out that the Exterminator is not responding due to the fact the BiG Cheese
    has ordered the exterminators to stand down.We now have Mayor McCheese and his Minions ignoring the problem by sticking theirs heads in the McSalad.One Lone Minion is asking questions? Is there a,problem with Rats?

  8. The proof is all around you. Look outside at night you will see it. Follow keeping the Sault safe on Facebook you will have your proof and can gather your own statistics. Our city is in big trouble whether you want to believe it or not.

  9. Want change? Let’s stop hiring local people that have deep roots in the community. These people are all bloody useless! Shoemaker is a horrible lawyer, so let’s put him in city politics! Let’s get Loser Provenzano as mayor? I swear you guys in the North really have the corn picking pitchfork he has attitude. Let’s put a good ole boy in office! This city needs a shake up. Put someone in with some balls! And get rid of most of the police force! Brother and I went to get strangers out of a house my brother owns, so went to the police station to report trespassers. Trespassing at night is in the criminal code and also Ontario’s legislation, well apparently the police didn’t get the memo! The exact words out of the staff sgt mouth were “you wanted to be a landlord” cop wasn’t even listening that they weren’t tenants. Bunch of fools running the keystone police service in ssm. Attitude! That’s your problem in this city!

  10. I appreciate your coverage, of this situation, Mr. Gray. I feel it’s important to keep these problems alive, in the media and hopefully in the mind of our elected officials. There is definitely a problem with petty criminals an general low lifes, about town. Not obviously more during covid-19 specifically but, obviously more in general. I do believe that a stronger police patrol presence, all over town, would make a marked improvement. Lock them up and dry them out. Let the addicts come down hard, without meds, to make it easier for them. Perhaps some hard falls would keep them from getting high again and keep them from ruining a neighbourhood. Maybe instead of police, we should call and report these crimes and vagrants to our local councillors, and complain to them. Remind them that we’re unhappy voters.
    Keep up the coverage Mr.Gray. Please! It is important

  11. Joe…I have talked with a number of outreach workers who deal with homelessness and drug addiction. From their experience there is a correlation between crime and these issues and harm reduction strategies if properly implemented and followed through have positive outcomes for the community in all three areas. As there have been numerous stats and articles on the drug addiction and homeless problem locally, do you not think it would be wise to invest in these programs as a proactive and preventative measure before things get worse? After all, isn’t it best to invest in insurance before you have an accident?

    • I would support an investment into prevention. I certainly don’t support more prisons and a hardline stance like so many others have suggested. The covid economy has pushed those on the edge further over the edge.

      The stats are hard to come by, we’re looking at a small 3 month window, but if the trend continues I think its pretty clear that we need to look at the root causes of the crime. If it is in fact drug related, then address it from that perspective. If its something else, we need to look at it from the other angle.

      The problem I suggest is that some people are throwing out emotional shouts without really grasping what is at issue and how serious it is and what to do about a problem.

      You wouldn’t even know by some of the people posting here that other non-violent crime categories are down, not up! And the original storyline has charged language as well, as if “Crime Running Wild” is a neutral journalistic standard to start with. It isn’t.

      I haven’t even voted in a Soo municipal or even provincial election in a few cycles, and we have people here making incredibly politically charged statements. That says more about the issue than the crime factor! LOL

  12. Hey Joe crime is way up according to the news reports I’ve read over the last couple years. The Mayor perhaps could address the downtown situation. The Mayor is from a relatively elite upbringing and might have a hard time relating to the homeless and crime in general in the Soo, I don’t know. The journalist here is very good and long overdue in this town. Ron…..

    • So where are the statistics? Links? Proof? Evidence? How many homicides have occurred in Sault this year, and how does it compare to the last 10 years? Is violent crime actually on the rise or not? I’m reading a lot of stuff on these comments that simply have little merit. I moved here a year ago and my insurance rates are half what they were from southern Ontario, yet others are complaining. I’m not denying anything, I am asking for raw pure evidence. So far, its just stories that seem to have no real point.

        Based on SSM police data and stats Canada data, and trended over the past 5 years on data.
        Five year change in crime – SSM has risen to a shocking 22nd most dangerous city in Canada with regard to increasingly worsening crime.
        Overall crime severity – SSM has risen to 43rd most dangerous city in Canada.
        The average severity index is 75.01 and SSM is 113.
        Violent crime severity index – SSM has increased to an index of 94 compared to the average index of 82 and is now considered the 61st most dangerous place to live in Canada due to increasingly violent crime.
        When you use statistical analysis and look at homicides, SSM has a higher homicide rate than Toronto.
        SSM murder rate is 2.63% and Toronto’s is lower at 1.68%
        SSM had 2 murders in 2019 out of an official population of 74,989.
        Toronto had 103 murders but out of population size 6,139,000.
        There’s a TON of evidence out there you just have to do some leg work.
        When I moved here from Southern Ontario (Dundas) my home and insurance rates nearly doubled, so I’m very curious to know from which city you moved.
        When I asked my insurance broker why the increase she cited worse crime, higher break & enters, higher vehicle theft with a lower chance of recovery. I have serious doubts your insurance costs here are half of those down south unless your residence is valued significantly lower here.
        I just bought a place in southern Ontario and will be moving back. My home insurance will be dropping from the $1,500/yr I pay here to $970 I’ll be paying there (not to mention my property taxes will be dropping significantly).
        On top of that I was told by locals that the crime is so low in that area of the south people don’t bother to even lock their car doors – that’ll be a nice refreshing change after all my car break-ins I’ve had here in the p-patch.

        • Taking your opinions out of the information provided, the link states the following. Homicide rate slightly UP to 2, assault rate is actually DOWN. Robbery rate is DOWN. Breaking & Entering is UP, but that’s not violent crime. Impaired driving is DOWN and Youth Criminal acts DOWN.

          Sounds like I was correct, this junk is just a bunch of online commenters without a real point.

          We’re all free to move about, if you want to boast about where you’re going best of luck to you, I don’t care either way. Best wishes wherever you end up.

        • P.S. If the homicide rate in Sault Ste Marie goes from 1 to 2, that means it went up 100%. The rate sounds high, but its not rampant crime. Toronto may have 60 murders, and if it goes up by 10 to 70 total that means it “only” goes up by 16%. You have to learn how to read the statistics to understand them. Sault Ste Marie is far safer than Toronto. Its also common that people confuse violent crime with petty crimes. Someone breaking into your car sucks, but you’re not going to die over it. And yes, my insurance is a full 50% less in SSM than it was in Southern Ontario in the GTA.

  13. If someone is a journalist, they need to show proof of these supposed “rampant” increases in crime. Where are the police stats? Also, the question needs to be asked what has happened in the past year that may increase crime, if an increase has occurred. Considering this is the year of COVID with massive unemployment and layoffs, that may be a starting point. But it all starts with proving the case that crime actually is rampant, not stating it without the evidence to back it up. Where are the records showing this supposed increase?

      • Evidence is key to journalism. Anything else is just nonsense. Sault Ste Marie is an older industrial city with economic challenges. I get that, we have tons of economic concerns to address. But it is not a rampant crime community. To state as such requires a serious look at the facts with an objective eye. None of that was applied to any of the pieces here. Just so you know, I didn’t vote in either the previous federal or provincial/municipal elections. I don’t come to this story with a bias, I just moved to the Soo in 2019. I don’t see that these comments are warranted at all, seems like a disconnect with reality. Soo is actually relatively safe. Violence like assault low and murder rate nearly nonexistent.

    • Violent crime in Sault Ste. Marie dropped in the first quarter of 2020, according to statistics released by police Thursday. But those same figures also show break and enters soared by 84 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

      I would say an 84% jump is “rampant”, Joe

      Suspected opioid deaths are soaring in Sault Ste. Marie, police said Thursday, with seven fatalities reported between May 28 and June 11.

      I would say 7 deaths in 2 weeks is “rampant”, Joe. We’ve had at least 3 waves like that in a year.

      • Okay, so we’re finally starting to see some stats come out. Very small period, 3 months, so its cherry picked, but finally some information.

        Violent crime is actually down in Sault Ste Marie, not up.

        NON-violent crime is up in a key category, break and enter, during the start of covid. So other people here have said that we should start taking away rights and fundamentally shifting the justice system. Those are some pretty politically charged statements.

        I don’t see what a few extra break-ins have to do with shifting rights and making some incredibly politically charged statements. Other non-violent crimes appear to be down from the stats I’m seeing, so its a mixed bag.

        Always have to look at these things through a proper lens, to hear some people speak they would setup new prisons and throw people in for life. That’s not going to resolve issues.

    • Get your head out of the sand. SSM annualized statistics release by both the local police & stats Canada that has been presented by MacLeans and published by local media here has shown that crime rates have increased year after year for several years, it’s NOT covid driven with the exception of spikes in 2020.
      Stop being a lazy ostrich and asking for others to supply the details. You’re surrounded by the information.

      • Also, if you think emotional expressions proves a case, and I’m in the wrong for asking for actual evidence, then you might want to consider before posting again. It makes your arguments incredibly weak. How DARE I ask for evidence!? LOL

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