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Wednesday August 9th, 2017

Posted at 9:00pm

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Sarah Cipkar, DWCC Community Development Coordinator addressing the assembled crowd.

A downtown residents meeting was held Wednesday night at the YMCA Building on Victoria Avenue. Organized by The Downtown Residents Association (DRA) in collaboration with The Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative (DWCC), the event brought in guest speakers from Windsor Police Services, The Windsor-Essex Community Health Centre, and The AIDS Committee of Windsor.

Over one hundred local residents turned out to voice their concerns and offer ideas about how to improve the area. The first half of the night, which was devoted to the guest speakers and a few questions from the audience, seemed to leave attendees restless, anxious to ask their questions and share their problems.

The city’s opioid crisis was a major point of concern, with many questions and comments revolving around it.

“We do have a lot of pressure from residents to find a solution not only for seeing people inject drugs, but as well the needles in our alleyways and our streets. It’s a really big hazard for people walking around the downtown right now, and so we really want to do something to address it,” says Emily Schurter, Volunteer Coordinator with the DWCC.

While tonight’s meeting won’t be solidifying any plans of action, it is the initiation of a new collaboration between the DRA and the DWCC that hopes to incite change in the city’s core.

“We’re launching the Downtown Neighbourhoods Project,” explains Schurter. “That project aims to help people to organize themselves within their neighbourhoods, their communities, between their neighbours… and show how can they get together and have their voices heard, so they can make the change they’d like to see.”

The Downtown Neighbourhoods Project (DNP) features nine objectives, which include making all findings public, to work with existing groups and communities whenever possible, and to establish and organize communities within neighbourhoods. The full list of objectives, and more information on the project, can be found at WindsorDNP.ca.

The second half of the meeting left time for attendees to confer with their neighbours to come with ideas to deal with different topics that effect their neighbourhoods, ranging from crime to parking. This exercise is an introduction to the main goals of the DNP.

After tonight’s meeting the DRA and DWCC plan to hold round table discussions where decisions can be made, and to “have people collect themselves into neighbourhoods or groups that they feel they belong with, and that they can advocate with, and then get those groups together to be able to advocate for changes on a bigger scale. We see that change happens not only citywide, but also in neighbour to neighbour conversations, block to block conversations, and community conversations,” says Schurter.

The details of the upcoming roundtable discussions have not yet been released.

Byron Klingbyle of The AIDS Committee of Windsor.

Ward 3 Councillor Rino Bortolin.

 

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