Neighbourhood Resource Centre in Sault Ste. Marie closes its doors
SAULT STE. MARIE -- After six years on Gore and Albert Street, The Neighborhood Resource Centre in Sault Ste. Marie has closed its doors and will look for a new location.
The police chief said the decision to move was made for safety reasons.
"When we had bylaw and the fire department in there was significant issues associated with that facility," said Chief Huge Stevenson.
"There’s no way an employer could allow people to work in that, based on employee standards."
The Neighbourhood Resource Centre opened in 2014. People hoped the centre would help solve the drug, theft and prostitution issues surrounding the area.
As of late, the chief said the area was a hub for crime.
"We had significant secondary crimes associated with that area, open drug dealing, prostitution," said Stevenson.
"Really I think it became more of a hang out then it was helping or treating people."
Luke Dufour is the chair of the board for the District of Sault Ste. Marie Social Services. He also manages a local small business a block away from the resource centre. He said the success of the centre can not be viewed upon simply by looking at crime stats.
"If all you’re measuring is crime, you’re not necessarily going to measure the impact of a place like the Neighbourhood Resource Centre. Because increasing the quality of life is also part of the equation and helping increase those social determinants of health and make them better for downtown residence."
The chief said the closure of the building is a perfect time to reassess the goals of the centre.
"During the latter part of the NRC, there was no performance measure, no objectives that were being sort of attained to and so this was an opportunity to re-examine what we were doing there."
Moving forward, Dufour said it makes sense for social services to take over the lead of the next Resource Centre.
The chief agrees and says there will still be a police presence wherever the next centre is located, but there won’t be an officer stationed there all the time.
The John Howard Society had workers stationed at the Centre for six years. Executive Director Suzanne Lajambe said its time to change the goals of the centre.
"We accomplished what we intended to do but as the time went by and needs changed certainly we have a lot more issues happening in our community around addictions and mental health. I think we need to grow beyond when it originally started up."
Chief Stevenson, Dufour and Lajambe all agree that wherever the new Neighbourhood Resource Centre will be, it should be located in the downtown.