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Homeless in Second Avenue tunnel a concern for downtown workers

'It is an eye opener for how bad it has gotten'
2022 09 24 2nd avenue tunnel
The entrance to the tunnel at Second Avenue in North Bay during the lunch hour on Wednesday. Photo by Chris Dawson/BayToday.

Editor's note: We have agreed not to use the subject's last name for security reasons.


A North Bay man says he is scared every time he goes to work at 8 a.m. and again when he leaves his downtown job at 4 p.m.

That's because "Kale" has to use the Second & Third Avenue tunnel in North Bay to get to and from work.  

"I must go through the tunnel daily on my way to work and it is always a fear-filled experience each time," he says.  

The reason for his concern is that homeless people have taken over the tunnel as a form of shelter. 

He says it's not an easy walk.  

"The other day there were three full recliners, multiple shopping carts, and three or more individuals sleeping and mumbling to themselves. One individual pulled out a piece of tinfoil which visibly had a large white rock in it that she proudly showed her tunnel mate All you can do is keep your head down and hope not to provoke one of the individuals. I am thankful this morning that I was able to walk through without any interaction.

Kale says he used to work for a not-for-profit organization that worked with vulnerable people downtown for close to five years.  

"This is not a new group of individuals for me," said Kale. 

"I do have work experience with them but with my new job, I never had to venture to this area before from Third to Second. I heard the reputation and I just simply avoided the area  Now having to traverse it with my new employment is an eye opener for how bad it has gotten."

Kale has never been threatened during any of his walks through the tunnel, but he says reading about the increase in unprovoked attacks in the North Bay area recently, has him on high alert every day he goes to and from his workplace. 

"It is fear and the anxiety of trying to anticipate any situation," he said candidly.  

"It is. how comatose is this individual laying on the ground? It's just doing your best to be aware in case there is an altercation."

Kale says as a first-time father with a newborn at home, all he thinks about is his family when he walks through the tunnel.  

"It is keeping your eyes open at all times," he noted.

"I think safety is the main concern, violence is rising with this demographic and I have had experiences as well, where before I go into the tunnel, I will wait for another work associate, or if I see someone coming I will wait on the other side of the tunnel to make sure they get through safe."

The North Bay Police say they are aware of the situation at the Second and Third Avenue tunnel.  

"Our officers respond to criminal complaints received in relation to people congregating in the area and investigate those complaints appropriately," said David Woolley, corporate communications officer with the North Bay Police Service.  

"Officers are assigned to patrol that area of the city, which includes the tunnel and the community surrounding it."

Police encourage anyone who witnesses criminal activity to report it so that officers can take appropriate action.

"Homelessness and addiction cause significant hardship to those suffering from them and need to be addressed in a holistic fashion," Woolley continued.  

"The North Bay Police Service continues to work with our community partners to ensure that members of our community who are struggling with homelessness and addiction can meet with outreach workers and gain access to appropriate accommodation and supports."

Kale says the last couple of weeks has been much worse.

"A couple of days I chose to take an extra 10-minute walk to my vehicle to avoid the tunnel as there was a group of 10+ individuals throwing bottles and setting up tents in the tunnel. One morning an individual had a barbecue lit in the tunnel cooking what smelt like an unknown meat source.

"I don't know who you call or who has the power to make any changes anymore. It's sad that working individuals have to hope for a safe walk to work. I miss the North Bay I grew up in and I miss the feeling of safety we used to have."

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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