Ward 3 Councillor Says Evicting Squatters Is A Temporary fix

The issue of squatters in downtown Windsor has many residents concerned.

That's according to Ward 3 councillor Rino Bortolin.

A recent incident in a wooded area behind a Crawford Ave. neighbourhood has residents up in arms over petty theft and needles scattered throughout the area.

Bortolin told AM800 News by-law enforcement and Windsor police have addressed the issue at that location, but it's only a temporary solution.

"It's an issue that's been prevalent throughout the core in different areas," he says. "There's issues around abandoned buildings, abandoned lots, similar situations where people are squatting sometimes on the property, sometimes in the buildings, and even on the roof."

Removing squatters from a property without getting them help will only displace the issue — Bortolin says programs need to be in place to get to the root of the what's happening and get people the help they need.

"You're dealing with the issues that are at the core of why some of these people are homeless, why some of these people are addicted to drugs," says Bortolin. "It [the solution] does have to be multi-pronged and there is a lot of activity going on. It's just that the problem is so big at this point that it's really hard to see results as quick as we want."

Addiction and mental health issues are commonly associated with homelessness, and Bortolin says there's no quick fix.

"Hopefully after a certain amount of time we start to see actual motion on this and we start to see those numbers decline, we start to see more and more people in permanent housing, more and more people off the streets, less needles being handed out," he says. "That's the long term goal, but it's a lot of work to get there."

Many mental health, addiction, and community outreach groups are already working together to find a long term solution, according to Bortolin.

A vacant building registry is also in the works, if approved, Bortolin says that might help hold absent land owners accountable.

The registry goes before council in September.