Today, Police Chief Gord Cobey announced that the Guelph Police Service will add four additional uniformed patrol officers in the downtown core as part of a six-month pilot project, beginning on April 1, 2020.
Expanding the Downtown Resource Officer Unit represents bold action to maintain downtown Guelph as a safe, welcoming place, and I am grateful for the Chief’s leadership in increasing the service’s visibility and engagement in the community.
In my daily conversations with residents and businesses across our city, and especially in our downtown core, the issue of community safety is consistently top of mind. I am thankful to Council for joining me in approving the 2020 budget, which allocated significant resources to Guelph Police Services, including the funds to hire more than 30 new staff, many of them visible front line officers.
As civil servants, both Chief Cobey and I feel a responsibility to be accountable to Guelph’s taxpayers, and that responsibility is a critical component of today’s announcement. I am thankful that Chief Cobey is initiating this six-month pilot to gather data and feedback so that a thorough review can be done to evaluate whether the current compliment of officers is sufficient, or if adjustments will be needed going forward.
Enforcement alone will not solve all the problems many are experiencing throughout our downtown. Homelessness, substance abuse, and illnesses related to mental health have a profound impact on our community. These issues affect all of us, and it is our collective responsibility to make sure no member of our community is left behind.
In January 2019, I created the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness and Community Safety to support initiatives like the Supported Recovery Room, Welcoming Streets program, and Addiction Court Support program. Together with dedicated community agencies, these initiatives have helped reduce chronic homelessness in our city by 29 per cent. These results are encouraging, but there is more work to be done.
Everyone who lives, works, visits and spends time in our downtown deserves to feel secure. When you see our new officers, I encourage you to give them a wave and a smile. Thank them for their service in fostering a safe, vibrant environment where business, culture, and community can thrive.
For more information
Mayor Cam Guthrie