Downtown safety discussion leads to another possibility

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Sault Police Sign and Building

During a robust conversation around downtown safety, an interesting development came to light with regards to our police services.

Councillor Matt Shoemaker asked for some clarification on if we were considering the move of our police headquarters to the downtown core.

Mayor Christian Provenzano answered the question as he sits on the Police Services Board.

“I can confirm that there seems to me to be a desire on the service part to move in that direction. And I think that there’s support, certainly at the board level, to consider what has to be done,” said Provenzano. “I think the first part of the assessment is [considering] whether the current building can be retrofitted to suit the needs. And if it can be retrofitted to suit the needs, what those costs are.”

The original building, which sits on Second Line, was built in 1968 and the addition was constructed in 1991, according to Sault Police Services.

Mayor Provenzano noted that Sudbury and Thunder Bay are slightly ahead of us in the process of planning a police services building.

We were able to confirm that Sudbury hasn’t made a final decision on a new station.  It was acknowledged that the Greater Sudbury Police Services is in “dire need” of a new building, according to local news reports.  Further, it was noted that, Thunder Bay, earlier this month received an estimated $56 million to build a new station.

The official discussion, in our city, of a location has yet to occur, as the process has yet to officially commence, according to Provenzano. He did, however, give his personal perspective on a future location during the meeting.

“I think that there would be, obviously, some significant interest on the police services part to make sure that the building was located in a in a really strategic location that could get access across the city, effectively,” said Provenzano. “I can tell you that from my personal perspective. I would like to see, if a new building is built for the police services, I would like to see that building built in the downtown. I’d like to see all those employees brought into the downtown core and I think it would make a lot of sense to locate the building in the downtown.”

Shoemaker agreed after hearing the Mayor out on the matter.

“I think that there certainly seems to be the perception that a majority of the calls that police services respond to are from the downtown area. So, locating it in an area near where a majority of the calls are, I think, would make some sense. And just secondly, from a location perspective, I think that identifying the downtown as the location, if there is to be a future build, is something that needs to happen early on in the process so that there is not scouting locations outside of the downtown parameters.” stated Shoemaker.

Do you think the police services building should be built downtown? Would money for a new building be better spent on policing rather than capital expenditures?

Let us know in the comments below and/or responding to the Community Poll!

Stay with SaultOnline as we continue to bring you in-depth coverage of City Hall.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Putting a second smaller police station downtown is a good idea demolishing the existing one is not a good thing to do. A new to consider would be to put it on King St. As it would be pretty well centred in our down town area and has access in all directions & it will help clean up our downtown.

  2. Putting a new police station on Bay Street, on the site of the old Northern Breweries, might solve a bunch of problems that others have raised. No demolition needed, close to the active problems, so that we should at least discuss it.

  3. The relocation of the Police headquarters anywhere in the downtown will be a step in the right direction.
    The downtown for itself, we the property owners, have not the power to lift the whole neighbourhood.
    The hotel owners, among them the richest people in this city and probably the richest in the whole Northern Ontario, are seating on the fence and are hardly participating in the satellite organizations that can bring new ideas… they are old people with an old conception of the city.
    The refreshing view of the magnificent Court building, the Central office of Canada Post, the -in another times- monument to power in communications of the Bell Building… the Museum.
    Bay Street looks gorgeous and it’s inviting for a walk, for a rest and be in touch with nature…
    The new planned Plaza, the Banks and the Hotel…
    Well, probably the councillors should star meeting the owners, the managers, all those capable of buying a can of paint and refresh their properties…
    The whole are should be re-evaluated and the City must go out full swing enforcing the by-laws and double up the taxes of those houses with five or six tenants and no commodities, no insurance, shared washrooms and kitchens or in the bes case, illegal washrooms and kitchens. There is a source of revenue there that the City is missing.
    And the last one… demolish the old hospital and cover the land with grass and trees… everyone si going to be grateful to see a green space there.
    Those buildings should have been demolished the day the old hospital was vacant.

  4. Having more police presence in the downtown core is wise; however, the root issue is that we have many individuals who are in dire need of addictions treatment and stable housing. Policing is only part of the community solution. A “Housing First” model adopted and taken seriously in SSM would significantly reduce criminality, loitering, panhanding, thefts, robberies, assaults, overdoses, deaths, public intoxication, littering, violence, trespassing, and more. The pandemic has highlighted mental health issues and homelessness where individuals with no place to go would use public restrooms in stores, malls and restaurants in the past. Then with Covid closures, they had nowhere to hang out during the day. We have a homelessness issue that enhances addictions use, which results in community disturbances and criminal behaviour. In the meantime and until more affordable and healthy housing solutions are created, showers, washrooms, laundry, lockers, phone lines and a mailing address for homeless clients to use as a base to make and accept mail and calls, a place to check in and rest during the day on lounge chairs (like zero gravity chairs), a place to meet up with social service workers and supports, and a daily food source would significantly help policing calls. Yes, we can spend millions relocating a building, or we can problem- solve some of the basic, root causes of crime. We are small enough of a community to address this. https://www.homelesshub.ca/solutions/housing-accommodation-and-supports/housing-first

    • Great post! People need a roof over their heads. That’s number one before anything else can happen. The neighbourhood resource centre that was on Gore was a good resource for many.

  5. Officers are not sitting in the police station waiting to respond to calls, they are in their cruisers, scattered throughout the city. When a call comes in, they are notified by radio. The location of the base, and the station, is irrelevant!!

    • It’s anything but irrelevant. A brick & mortar presence is critical in community policing. A police station is just more than cops & cars, it’s a location with resources (at least it’s supposed to be). Not to forget it’s also a reporting station. The current police station is actually pretty far removed from the heaviest crime locations and with the buses as they are (and other high costs of transportation) there are many people who don’t report or attend the police station because of the location.

  6. There is definitely a need for a new Police Services Building ,plus holding cells for up to 90 days.
    The existing building should be torn down and the new facilities with new state of the art technology .
    This should be a top priority to ensure our Police Force has all the tools to do their job

    • Police do their jobs , it’s the corruption in the crown and the judges chambers that release the scum of the city over and over again

      • And our Prime MInister. Justin Trudeau put a nail in the coffin of Canadians with his softer-than-ever on crime bill c-75, removal of minimum sentences for violent gun crimes, smuggling guns, etc. Then there’s the reduction of sentences on violent crimes. In what world does it make sense to ban legal gun owners from possessing guns but remove & reducing sentences for criminals who use illegal guns??

  7. I think they are in a pretty central location where it is now….. maybe they could expand on second line building. I personally don’t think it being downtown is going to make any difference in crime. They have bicycle cops… do they make an impact on crime… also I don’t think we need to build another building…lots of empty spaces…old sears and Walmart….empty. where do they plan to build…..maybe in Jamestown…land huge money paid for old strip club area… crime is all over the city…… use money to hire more police and do more foot patrolling and traffic control!

    • Name some cities that DON’T have a police station, headquarters or satellite location in a city’s downtown core – I’ll wait.
      You likely won’t be able to name one because most, if not all, cities do have one. There’s even a common saying in TV and movies taken from real life – when they book or interrogate criminals “let’s take him downtown”.
      The normal (i.e. logical) thing is to have a centrally located HQ and then have several staffed satellite stations in districts and community offices in high crime areas.
      Let’s face it, the Soo hasn’t changed in decades because that gives up power and control to subsets of the community that don’t want to give up power and control.
      Sault Ste Marie is slowly rotting because it’s “business as usual”. Better just put some more tourism ads in MacLean’s magazine.
      Last week I spoke to a retiree that moved here a few months ago from Mississauga thinking it would be a great quiet place to retire based on the marketing. They’re already looking at selling their house and moving back because the Soo isn’t what they thought it was.

        • Jim, I’m part of that story. We sold our house in the Annex and purchased few large properties in the down town… The house that we sold in Annex is valued at 2.8 million today and our properties here are devaluating due to crime, high unemployment, opioid crisis, mental health… yadda yadda.
          All that we couldn’t see 15 years ago.

  8. I think it’s a stellar idea to have our police services building in the downtown core.just saying,wouldn’t,t the old general hospital be ideal for access to the whole city,North,east or west.maybe we all need to vote on the location.we certainly need more police presence downtown Sault.

  9. City hall is a perfectly beautiful functioning building..it is not necessary to spend money on a new one when money is needed elsewhere..prioritizing is key..Before a wall is built to honour the ones whom have died from drug addiction consider how large that wall will be if we don’t put all monies available to that high priority issue we face first..Police station downtown is a good idea..Unfortunately the problems are all over the city with downtown being the worst and the tourist attraction, action has been way to slow ..Feel bad for businesses and workers downtown for sure..sad days

  10. I don’t even feel comfortable walking in and out of my office downtown anymore, this is a fabulous idea in my opinion. We will find the money just like we do for anything else thats beneficial to the community. I hope it doesn’t take years to happen, this city is in big trouble and we need to do something about it NOW

  11. No new police station, no new downtown plaza. The city cannot afford these things, the cost of cladding the ivory tower was already too much for the city to bear without raising the ridiculous taxes even more.
    These top priorities are to house and treat the addicts and criminals, if there’s anything left over, fix the damn falling apart roads.

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