Landlord and tenant disputes have increased by 158 per cent during the COVID-19 pandemic, Greater Sudbury Police Chief Paul Pederson told a monthly public board meeting on Wednesday.
Pederson provided board members with an update on the service’s strategic direction for 2020 and gave a short presentation on the Chief’s September 2020 report during the meeting.
The police service is committed to policing with excellence and professionalism, and part of that is continuing to gather data that informs resource allocation, he said.
“One of the calls that has increased the most for us during COVID is landlord and tenant disputes. While we’re dealing with landlord and tenant disputes or neighbour disputes, we’re not able to do some of the other proactive work,” said Pederson.
It’s difficult to know exactly why these calls have increased, said Pederson, because he is sure that each situation is unique.
“Some of the common themes we’re seeing is that somewhere along the line, tenants got the impression that they didn’t have to pay rent anymore, and so that ends up being a challenge for the landlords. Many of them use that income for livelihoods,” he said.
“The other piece is, and again I don’t profess to be an expert in this, but I am reading and hearing things about how much of a drain it is to be locked into our own homes. Locked away from the things that bring us happiness, whether it’s a concert in the park or a basketball game. These types of things, when all of us aren’t getting those outlets, it causes a lot of frustrations.
“So a dispute – whether it’s a landlord and tenant dispute or a neighbour dispute – have their roots in anger and aggression, and we’re just seeing more of that with COVID all across the board.”
During the month of September, the 911 emergency communications centre (ECC) received More than 25,000 telephone calls. Over 5,800 of those calls were received through the 911 network.
The 911 ECC also managed 7,961 police service events and 754 fire service events.
The Greater Sudbury Police serves as the primary emergency response agency for 911 calls, receiving about 61,000 calls per year.
In other board news:
– As children returned to school this September, officers were out patrolling the streets, conducting speed limit enforcement in school zones and residential areas, and keeping an eye out for school bus stop violations.
In four days, 33 provincial offence notices were issued, including 28 speeding charges, one failure to stop for a school bus, one driving with an improper license charge, and thee administrative charges.
In total, the the service’s Traffic Management Unit (TMU) issued 291 provincial offence notices in September. To date, the yearly TMU provincial offence notices issued for 2020 is 3,032.
– The Rural Community Response Unit noted that as non-essential travel was reduced as a result of the pandemic, there has been an increase in the use of recreational vehicles such as boats and ATV as well as related complaints.
In September, the unit patrolled Long Lake, Lake Panache, Vermillion Lake and River, and Lake Wahnapitae, stopping 46 vessels and handing out 15 T-shirts to youth wearing life jackets.
– Police also reported that 375 individuals have been reported missing from June to September. Specifically, 84 missing persons were reported last month, but only one case remains outstanding.
– Revenues continue to be negatively impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the area of record checks. However, paid duty revenues have “increased substantially” now that the film industry is actively engaged in movie shoots throughout the city.
– The police board unanimously passed a motion to enter into an agreement with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation for $31,122 in funding to offset the costs associated with employing a Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Clerk Intern for a year.
The intern will “contribute to the development of a comprehensive equity, diversity and inclusion strategy” for the police service.
– The board also authorized the manager of communication and information technology to enroll in an Enterprise Developer Program from Apple to deploy a series of apps that will run on service-owned phones.
The cost of the program is $299, and the manager of communication and information technology will act as an agent for the board on this account.
– The police service has entered into a data-sharing agreement with Lakehead University in Thunder Bay to participate in a study researching the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on policing.
“The service has been approached by Dr. Andrew P. Dean, Vice President of Research and Innovation, and Alana Saulnier, assistant professor, at Lakehead University to investigate and document effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on policing, specifically its effects on police directives, calls for GSPS, and officer wellness,” said an action on the board’s agenda.
The data gathered during the project will be used in a confidential research report.
“This has been a unique year with COVID, a whole host of community tensions and with issues with respect to an opioid crisis,” said Chief Pederson.
“But our strategic direction remains the same and that’s community safety through collaborative partnerships and building trust with the community that we serve by delivering professional services.”
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