‘Bad people and good people’ attracted to downtown, says Oakville mayor

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Published August 8, 2023 at 11:42 am

Downtown Oakville's outdoor patios and sidewalks are jammed during weekends, but unfortunately that means attracting good people and bad people. TOWN OF OAKILLE PHOTO

The popularity of downtown Oakville is obvious to anyone who has taken a weekend drive on Lakeshore Rd. and seen the crowded sidewalks and jammed outdoor patios.

With popular restaurants, ice cream and tasty dessert shops and live entertainment, it’s become a trendy destination for those in town looking to get out and enjoy the summer weather.

It’s exactly the vibrant destination the town was hoping for when it completed its downtown reconstruction and streetscape work, but while it’s always been a safe, family-friendly area a recent shooting incident outside a downtown restaurant has some, including Mayor Rob Burton, concerned.

Thankfully, no one was injured.

“It’s very rare in Oakville, I should hasten to say,” Burton told inhalton.com’s Khaled Iwamura during their regular monthly video interview. “Once is too many.”

While police continue to look for the man believed to be responsible for firing at least one shot during an altercation just before midnight on July 21 outside a restaurant in the area of Lakeshore Rd. E. and Reynolds St., the question remains is there anything to alleviate random gun violence, especially in a busy location such as downtown Oakville.

“I don’t know. Tough question,” said Burton, before saying something that is certain to be unpopular with some.

“We got to be willing to ban guns and figure out a way to find them and confiscate them,” added the Oakville mayor. “I have trouble imagining that happens.”

Gun violence is one thing that is getting more and more common in large cities like Toronto, but here in Oakville at the corner of Trafalgar Rd. and Lakeshore Dr.?

“I think we’ve become too attractive and we’re going to have to stop cooking with cheese,” said Burton. “I’m not really making light of this. We worked for three years to make our little historic downtown district irresistible and unfortunately, that’s an equal opportunity for irresistibility. It attracts bad people and good people.

“But until they do something to clean (up gun violence), you can’t stop people on the way and say, ‘Hey, you look like you might do something bad.’”

Burton believes Halton Regional Police will find the man responsible.

“Our police are very good at solving cases,” he said. “They’ll get this idiot if some other police force doesn’t get him sooner. Anybody that would be doing that here is probably doing it somewhere else.”

Gun violence has become rampant south of the border and its growing influence here led the government to consider bans on several types of firearms including military-style assault rifles.

“I’ve managed to live a very long time without ever owning a gun,” said Burton. “I don’t understand why people got to feel like they got to carry it around in public. I don’t know how you get mad enough at somebody that you go shoot them.

“It’s a regrettable part of life.”

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