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LETTER: Environment around downtown Barrie 'just sad'

'Society needs to step up and address our problems, because they are staring us in the face,' says letter writer
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Downtown Barrie is shown in a file photo.

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to 'FAIR COMMENT: Downtown Barrie has 'bright future',' published March 22. 

In Barry Ward's column about downtown Barrie, he says how good it was that a large downtown mall was not built in the '70s.

I agree with his thoughts, that people don’t come to a downtown to visit malls.

I, however, do not visit downtown Barrie to shop at those unique and excellent businesses that he also earmarks as a "drawing card."

Why? I’ve lived most of 62 years in and around Barrie. I’ve watched the city grown from a "town" to a "city." I've watched main street become Anne Street and cross the tracks to have a north and south side. I’ve seen Barrie grow for many, many years.

When we moved to Barrie, our phone number was 4421, so you get the picture.

I’m now a senior and I am appalled at the ‘strung-out’, homeless people hanging around in the downtown. I see many people with either serious drug symptoms and/or mental health issues. I am a retired registered nurse, so I feel confident my assessments are very close to reality.

I see dog feces on the sidewalks, vomit and urine in corners. These scenes are not isolated, one-time presentations.

My daughter-in-law and grandchildren came by bus to visit last year and she was so scared by the crowd of (people) at the bus station that she found a nearby restaurant to hide in until I could pick them up. They live in downtown Toronto!

Yesterday, I was in (a downtown business) waiting for an order and a young man walked up to me — I thought he was going to ask for money — and said, “Do you have a problem with your hips or knees?” What the hell? Why would a man in his 30s comes up to a senior woman and dare to say something so inappropriate and anxiety-provoking?

This latest incident — and there have been others — has made me resolve that I do not want to go downtown. I would love to support the great businesses there, but the entire environment is just sad.

I see people walking along the bay enjoying the best part the city has to offer, but even those who live downtown do not want to walk down the streets and be accosted by people begging for drug money or even just witnessing those with significant mental issues who need help.

I see many articles on Barrie council trying to deal with picking a safe injection centre or homeless shelter, but these projects need action and are past discussion.

Society needs to step up and address our problems, because they are staring us in the face.

We can ignore and act like they are not there or, as I have realized, at my age I am now a target. I am old, disabled and fear for my safety in this type of environment, therefore I must avoid going downtown in the town I’ve lived most of my life in.

Ellen Jackson