Advocate calls for dialogue on Eagle Place issues

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The chair and founder of the Brantford Substance Users Network is calling for an open dialogue to help address concerns about crime and drug use in Eagle Place.

“I think people need to realize that a lot of substance users – people like myself and others in our network – want a safe peaceful neighbourhood just like everyone else,” Roberts said. “But a lot of people I know are becoming increasingly afraid to go out these days for fear of being confronted.

“They feel like they’re being blamed for any crime that happens in Eagle Place.”

The network is part of the Brantford Brant Drug Strategy Initiative and provides ‘lived experience,’ to the harm reduction efforts implemented by local leaders. Members of the network do walks around the neighbourhood once a week looking for discarded needles.

Roberts said his members average about one discarded needle a week during the walks and many of those are old.


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Asked if it’s possible other people in the neighbourhood have toured the neighbourhood and picked up used needles ahead of his crew, Roberts said it’s possible but he doubts it.

Roberts made the comments in response to a September article in The Expositor the captured the concerns of Eagle Place residents who have become increasingly fed up with the amount of crime happening in their area. The article can be found at .

Many Eagle Place residents say the opening of supportive housing on Marlene Avenue in June has taken crime in the neighbourhood to a new level. The small studio apartments house 30 of the city’s most vulnerable homeless residents.

However, Eagle Place residents say some of the tenants and their visitors are “walking through driveways and backyards, shooting up in nearby parks, and making off with their property.”

A recent study done by Brantford police indicates there is a disproportionately high number of occurrences in Ward 5, which includes the downtown and the university district and the communities of Eagle Place, East Ward and Echo Place, in comparison to other parts of the municipality.

But Roberts said he isn’t convinced that there has been a huge increase in crime in Eagle Place and he doesn’t believe all of the problems should be blamed on those who use substances.

“When people tell me about crime in the neighbourhood they’re often talking about things that happened sometime in the past and they always want to blame the junkies,” Roberts said. “I understand their concerns but I just think we need to open up a dialogue and see if we can address some of these concerns before things get too crazy.”

Others including habitual criminals and young kids breaking into vehicles could be responsible for some of the crimes, Roberts said.

City officials meanwhile are well aware of the concerns raised by Eagle Place residents. City councillors are expected to have a report detailing how to ensure safety and quality of life affordable housing sites and emergency shelter by December.

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