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Midland mayor and town officials confront rising concerns over 'drug houses'

Midland's mayor hosted a town hall on Wednesday with bylaw officials, the fire department, the OPP, and residents after several complaints about 'drug houses' in the community.

"This is stuff that's going on in what used to be a very nice, quiet and comfortable neighbourhood. Now, it's turned into a nightmare. It's just not fun anymore," said Susan Mizuno, who has lived in her Midland neighbourhood for 25 years.

"The people that visit that house are probably people with addictions, and people with addictions are often desperate. Desperate people will do desperate things. So, of course, I'm afraid for my safety. I'm afraid that my property is going to get stolen or damaged," added Shelley Nicholls, who is approaching a decade in her home.

At Wednesday's meeting, stakeholders reminded locals that the root of this issue is not a simple fix or unique to Midland but one they are trying to address.

"There are approaches we can take that maybe we're not doing really well at right now to try and help the people that are experiencing homelessness or help the people that have addiction issues. And most importantly, help the neighbours who through no fault of their own need to coexist with people that are struggling," said Mayor Bill Gordon.

In a historically quiet neighbourhood, one house labelled as problematic was boarded up by its landlord to keep evicted tenants and others out after complaints by neighbours of violence, drug abuse and prostitution.

"It's really uncomfortable. It's really unnerving. We are constantly watching to make sure nobody is in our yard, nobody is messing around with the vehicles or whatever," said Mizuno.

"There were drug buyers parked on the corner. There was some guy going down the street on a bike. There was another guy coming up the street. I didn't want to walk my dogs surrounded by those people. So no, I don't feel safe here anymore," explained Nicholls.

The mayor lamented some potential solutions' limitations.

"Currently, the province has a moratorium on us allowing or even wanting to pay for more police dedicated to Midland. We just can't do that."

He urges residents to keep reporting complaints to build a stronger case as they seek a solution that may not simply be a more significant police presence — acknowledging that they are just one of five zones covered by the Southern Georgian Bay OPP.

"The responsibility for a building and its property and the people that are in it belong to the landlord. Many of those don't live in our community, so we need to hold them more accountable and responsible," exclaimed Gordon.

Midland town council is in the process of organizing a community safety symposium for October 19 at the North Simcoe Sports and Rec Centre, where stakeholders and community members can discuss the issue of drugs and crime. Top Stories

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