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New downtown ambassador program launched

'We are looking to help them and we are looking to see what they need and to be able to gather the information and then bring that back to the agencies and the city to say these are where the gaps are and this is where the services are needed'
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Dave Mendicino speaks to the media in Downtown North Bay. Photo by Chris Dawson/BayToday.

Kyla Venturini is one of five new ambassadors that will be spending their time downtown.  

“So to start I will be going out tomorrow morning and engage with business owners to start," she said. 

See: Healthy Community Ambassador Program to launch Monday

“We are going to be introducing ourselves, building a rapport, providing our contact information and kind of seeing what the downtown needs. So that will be engaging with individuals on the street with the vulnerable population, or just with patrons walking by that may need some assistance.” 

Her role as a part of the new Healthy Community Ambassador Program will be to engage with vulnerable individuals and help them get connected to available services. 

“There’s a lot of work happening in the community that is focused on longer-term strategies to address the root causes of mental health and addiction. This initiative is something that can be implemented now to help address issues in our downtown,” said Coun. Dave Mendicino, a Downtown North Bay board member. 

“It’s just one part of the solution.”

Venturini is not sure how her first shift will go. But she says she feels comfortable speaking with those people at risk. 

“So I think with our different approach, we are not looking to arrest anybody, we are looking to help them and we are looking to see what they need and to be able to gather the information and then bring that back to the agencies and the city to say these are where the gaps are and this is where the services are needed,” said Venturini. 

Deputy Police Chief Mike Daze likes the idea of this program, which originated in Guelph.  

He believes there no single agency that is going to keep the city safe.  

“We are there for emergency response to deal with crisis, but that is not day to day, so there are lots of people throughout the community that just need support, guidance and direction and where to do go get this help and by putting experts sort of boots on the ground, that is where the community really starts benefitting because that information is disseminated from the proper source and they can do that follow up,” said Daze.  

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