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Residents take first steps in reclaiming their community

Residents-only meeting slated for Monday morning to discuss recent arrests
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Allanview residents wouldn’t accept anyone trying to tarnish their community through criminal activity, and they certainly won’t hear any negative talk of their beloved area, either.

Barrie police said Friday afternoon that 18 people had been arrested, with a quantity of drugs and drug-related evidence also being seized.

Many good folks in the community co-ordinated to overcome some bad activity and to reclaim their neighbourhood.

More details on the massive early Friday morning raid that also hit a residence on Megan Court could possibly be released Monday, but for now Erika Erteki, of Barrie Housing, says that while city police did a great job, she points out how it took everyone working together to make it happen.

“Barrie Housing is committed to taking an active approach in fostering safe communities where our tenants can thrive and raise their families in relative peace,” said Erteki.

“The arrests that took place on March 9 at our Allanview location is a tremendous example of a community that sent a resounding message of 'no more', a housing provider that listened and law enforcement that acted," she added. "Community safety is not only a policing problem, and we at Barrie Housing are committed to doing our part to assist law enforcement whenever possible.

"We hope that other communities that we serve are empowered by the outcome of what has happened at Allanview. I am so proud of our tenants for finding their voice, thankful to the Barrie police for their stellar police work and forever in awe of the dedicated staff at Barrie Housing, for going over and above the call of duty to support our communities.”

A combined effort between the Barrie police street crime unit, the Ontario Provincial Police tactical response unit, York Regional Police emergency response unit and the Barrie police tactical support unit executed four Controlled Drugs and Substances Act search warrants at several residences in the two apartment buildings across the street from Innisdale Secondary School, as well as the address on Megan Court.

After the raids on Little Avenue, Erteki says that relieved residents were outside thanking police, with most commenting how they would finally get a good night’s sleep.

The dwellings are made up of seniors, singles and families with kids.

Erteki points out that a few bad apples don’t represent the whole batch.

“Allanview is made up of individuals that are raising families, working and going to school just like many other communities in the city of Barrie,” Erteki said. “Criminal elements can pop up in any neighbourhood and I don’t buy into the notion of a 'bad area'. There are individuals who, through their criminal activity, may have contributed to the negative perception of our community.

"Today, I can, with some certainty, say that with Friday’s arrests, we have gotten a bit closer to erasing this negative perception.”

While some may expect to hear positivity from the housing group in charge of running the buildings, Erteki’s comments are echoed from nearby business owners as well.

One business owner, who didn't want to be identified, said that he has never had a problem in the many years he’s been opened in the area. And that while drugs are prevalent, the people as a whole are good.

“You see people hanging outside my place here, smoking and maybe just loitering, but that’s it. They never hurt anyone,” said the longtime businessman.

“The townhouses on one side and the buildings over there, there are lots of poor people, lots of people living paycheque to paycheque, so how are they going to be big-time drug dealers? They are not, it is a few bad people who come here and hang out and then our community gets the bad name," he added. 

"I wouldn’t be here for as long as I have if I didn’t feel safe. These are good people and the buildings are good place to live; even more so now that the very few are out.”

The Allanview complexes are located in Coun. Arif Khan’s Ward 8. He said he was extremely proud of the local police force and the residents for their bravery and vigilance against those who have taken advantage of those looking to be safe.

“Friday’s police activity and the resulting arrests, along with any evidence seized, are the result of a combination of thoughtful planning, surveillance, information gathering and patience on the part of the Barrie Police Service,” said Khan. “That along with co-operation with the resilience of local residents who were determined to root out the criminal activity of a few degenerates who chose to infiltrate and take advantage of access to municipal housing for deviant purposes.

"I have zero tolerance for those who prey upon members of our community and abuse already strained services that are meant to provide safe housing for already vulnerable members of the community, many who turn to community housing to escape domestic violence to begin with," Khan added. "It is my belief that there is a sense of relief within the community, especially for the families who reside within the not-for-profit residences, as well as for our neighbours.”

A Little Avenue tenants-only meeting is planned for Monday morning where it is believed residents will be brought up to date as well as being given the opportunity to voice any thoughts on the recent arrests.

Khan said he firmly believes that those residents need to take time to pat themselves on the back and be an example for others going through the same thing.

“I am aware of the often referred to sense of apathy within the community when it comes to the public filing complaints with the police service,” said Khan. “There’s a sense that it doesn’t make a difference. This is a prime example that disproves that theory.

"For the past five years, I have encouraged the community to communicate with the police service. I challenge the community to remain inspired and committed," he added. "Residents are, and must continue to be, the eyes and ears in partnership with our police service, as policing alone will never be as effective as a co-operative approach to a healthy community.”




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