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'We can't just stop here': Downtown Mission hosts community cleanup event

The Downtown Mission held a community cleanup event on June 9, 2023. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor) The Downtown Mission held a community cleanup event on June 9, 2023. (Sanjay Maru/CTV News Windsor)

For the first time since moving to Ouellette Avenue, the Downtown Mission held a community cleanup event, which saw more than 50 people — a mix of staff, volunteers, guests and community partners — pick up debris and trash between Elliott and Erie Streets.

Friday's cleanup also marked the first time the city's commissioner of Human and Health Services rolled up their sleeves to join in the cleanup efforts.

"We can't just stop here. It's like when I always talk about one time funding, it's not just about one time, this has to be ongoing. This has to be sustainable," said Andrew Daher. "Everyone as part of this community, whether it's residents, businesses, citizens, we all have to be part of this change."

But Daher acknowledged real change can only occur once any negative judgements people may hold about the homeless population are thrown away, in favour of active listening and empathetic understanding to people's individual situations.

"I've met CFL players. I've met individuals who are working class citizens, just down on their luck," he said. "Many of these folks just need another year. They are contributing members of society and just need that upper hand."

The state of Windsor's downtown has been a major point of discussion in recent months.

Just this week, a town hall meeting at city hall saw multiple residents and business owners express concern over needles and trash being scattered in the area.

According to Rukshini Ponniah-Goulin, executive director for the Downtown Mission, Friday's cleanup effort was planned long before this week's meeting.

"It is something we are trying to address as well ... but we are now trying to make sure that everyone is aware to call 311 if they ever see a sharp out there. We don't want people to be handling them themselves," said Ponniah-Goulin, adding the city will use those calls to track where additional sharps containers may be needed.

Ponniah-Goulin added, through efforts like this, the Downtown Mission hopes to establish good rapport and foster a healthy relationship with the surrounding neighbourhood. Top Stories

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