Public intoxication downtown

Public intoxication is a complex health and safety issue which will require partnerships with all orders of government, as well as support from the not-for-profit sector, residents and businesses, as we strive to make progress.

To address immediate health and safety concerns of individuals, I think the Street Outreach program (partially funded by the Federal government) and the Sobering Center (run by the NWT Disabilities Council and funded by the GNWT) are working well – although both could use some improvements.

For the Street Outreach program, it’d be beneficial to extend the hours as they’re currently operating from noon until midnight every day and they receive many calls in the morning when they are not yet in service. I’d like to find funding support from other parties to expand this service. As the new sobering center just opened, I’m hoping that it’ll also make a difference in the coming years – because it means now people will have somewhere to go 24 hours a day to sleep off their intoxication, access to a bathroom, showers, laundry, etc. They’re also offering more programming in this location (anger management, etc) so I hope that it can make a difference in our community. There’s also the recently opened Arctic Indigenous Wellness camp (opened in May of this year) that is offering culturally relevant on-the-land healing programs.

With a more long-term focus, we need to follow through on our 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness – which also addresses affordable housing, healing and reconciliation. The City has a leadership role in making sure this plan advances, but we can also use tools and resources in the City’s control – such as donating land, tax incentives, zoning, etc – to access funds from a much larger pool of money from our partners at the Territorial and the Federal governments to implement the plan. If elected Mayor, I’m committed to working with all of our partners to ensure the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness continues to get implemented.

At the same time public intoxication is seen as a safety issue for other residents, as well as a deterrent to investment in the downtown. This year, two of the priorities for community policing that we put forward to the RCMP are: 1) More visible presence downtown (which has resulted in hundreds of alcohol confiscations); and 2) Addressing chronic offenders in a different way by diverting people to the integrated case management team at GNWT. As Mayor, I think it’s important that we stay in close contact with the RCMP to see how these priorities are advancing, and if there’s no progress, what some different possibilities or initiatives could be.

Outside of the health and safety issues, there’s also the issue of ensuring the downtown is clean (bodily fluids and garbage). If elected mayor, I’ll continue to support increased clean-up efforts in the downtown core, and continue to look for ways to make more accessible public restrooms in and around downtown.