It’s been a tough year for residents of the Ryan Heights neighborhood in Sudbury, but efforts are underway to recover.
In the past 11 months, the area has seen a fatal fire, two fatal shootings and an illegal confinement involving drugs and weapons.
Betty Ann McCue is spokesperson for the Ryan Heights Neighborhood Association. She has lived in the area for seven years and says she feels some people judge the area.
“As 99% of the people in our community are good families raising their children properly, trying to create a positive community, for the 1% who aren’t, the drug dealers, that kind of family violence,” a- she declared.
“All of that is what society is focused on, which needs to change.”
McCue said he noticed a change in the neighborhood when the pandemic started.
“With the pandemic as well, everyone was just staying in their own bubble, not really going anywhere,” she said.
“I think we should have, maybe, peer support programs, community activities, not just for kids but also for adults.”
Robert Kirwan is the city councilor representing the region. He said when the pandemic started, efforts were underway to bring nearby Ryan Heights and Cambrian Heights together to form a community action network. This is when people who live in the same neighborhood come together to try to improve their neighborhood.
He said those efforts had been halted.
“You know, the focus is on building community, but I don’t know. You just don’t want people to get acclimated to all of that,” he said.
“Well, the police are going to be here once or twice a day or, you know, we’re going to have fires, we’re going to have shootings,” he said. “You don’t want it to become the norm and normalize to the point that no one is really surprised that this kind of thing is happening.”
The City of Greater Sudbury’s director of social housing said the neighborhood has suffered because volunteers and support services have pulled out during the pandemic.
Barb Dubois said the city is working to reconnect neighbors and support residents who have been isolated.
“We have a tenant survey to see what kind of services they would like in their neighborhood,” she said.
“We need to energize tenants and agencies to bring services back and support tenants and have return programs in these neighborhoods that have declined due to COVID.”
Dubois said an audit identified ways to increase security, such as more motion-sensor cameras. She added that the Northeast Local Health Integration Network helps fund a transition worker who can meet mental health needs.
Sudbury police say they have also stepped up patrols beyond calls for duty in the area since January this year.
Sergeant Joshua Rickard worked as a community liaison officer for several years, before and at the start of the pandemic.
He acknowledged he could not speak on behalf of residents about what it was like for them to experience the pandemic and recent violent incidents.
Rickard said the police are limited in what they can do, but added he believes the best thing for him is to listen to residents, understand their needs and connect them with others. communities.
“There’s a ton of amazing people in these communities, communities and people who are, you know, caring, kind and really want to see the best for their communities. And sometimes it’s hard for some communities to bring the things,” he said.
“A lot of the work that I did before COVID was with the community action networks in the different jurisdictions in those regions. And part of the work that I was able to do with some of the communities was to go out in a way proactive and learning, understanding, creating opportunities for people to share their stories.”