Shoreline Beacon e-edition

Owen Sound council leads moment of silence for slain restaurant owner


Owen Sound council began its Sept. 11 meeting by holding a moment of silence for Sharif Rahman, who died last month after being assaulted outside his business in the city’s downtown.

Mayor Ian Boddy asked a full council chambers to rise and recognize Rahman, the Curry House owner who died on Aug. 24 after spending a week on life support in a London hospital. His death came after he was assaulted outside his restaurant on the night of Aug. 17. Police are investigating Rahman’s death as a homicide.

Boddy said after the moment of silence that anyone who had went to The Curry House would know what a positive man Rahman was at all times.

“He was always interested in you, he was always interested in the community,” Boddy said. “We are blessed in this community that he came and lived here frankly.”

Rahman, 44, grew up in Bangladesh, where he studied economics before obtaining a masters degree in international development at the University of Glasgow. He purchased The Curry House in 2015.

Boddy said Rahman’s background made him a great help on city committees and on the Grey County economic development committee.

“He loved so much being part of this community and everything about it,” Boddy said. “Our thoughts are with the Rahman family here and in Bangladesh.”

Boddy thanked the community for their support they showed in the days following the Aug. 17 assault and since. A pair of silent nighttime walks through the downtown and a drumming event at the farmers’ market attracted hundreds of people. On Aug. 27, residents lined parts of the route for Rahman’s police-led funeral procession from the Owen Sound Muslim Association to Greenwood Cemetery.

A GoFundMe set up to support Rahman’s family, including his wife and young daughter, and and business had raised more than $243,000 as of Tuesday.

Boddy said the show of support was greatly appreciated by family and friends who had travelled from Montreal, Toronto and the U.S. for the funeral.

“They really appreciated the way the community responded,” Boddy said. “The Bangladeshi community took note of how our community handled the situation to date.”

The Jalalabad Association of Toronto has expressed a desire to send a delegation to Owen Sound to express their gratitude, extend support for Rahman’s family and “hand over the message that conveys the appreciation and solidarity of the Bengali community,” he said.

“I hope everyone keeps Sharif and his family in their hearts and we support them going forward as we move on,” Boddy said.

Shortly after the assault took place, police released grainy images of suspects and a vehicle believed to be involved. All three suspects are Caucasian men, two believed to be in their mid-20s to mid-30s and the other believed to be in his late-40s to mid-50s. The incident is being investigated by Owen Sound police and the OPP and they have not yet announced any arrests.

Boddy said later in Monday’s meeting, in response to an e-mail question from a member of the public, that he has had conversations with Owen Sound Police Chief Craig Ambrose. Boddy said he has received limited information from police and shares all information he receives.

“OPP and Owen Sound Police Services are investigating, it is ongoing,” Boddy said. “We thank Hanover and West Grey that came up and helped as well.”

Boddy said Ambrose has “expressed his appreciation of the seriousness and the community impact of this incident, and has asked that we balance that against the investigative process.”

“I am confident in the thoroughness of the investigation and the professionalism and expertise of the officers,” Boddy said. “We thank the people for their patience as the police do this important work.”

Boddy said police will make statements when they decide to make statements and will do so to benefit the investigation.

“When the investigation wraps up we will have more knowledge certainly at that time and more freedom to perhaps discuss those things,” Boddy said.

In a news release issued on Aug. 30, Boddy said the city will look at installing additional closed-circuit cameras downtown and adding exterior lighting in designated areas.

Boddy said at the time that Ambrose confirmed police will continue to have officers on foot and bike patrol throughout the River District and had recently applied for grant funding to increase police presence and address issues of crime and recidivism.

On Monday, Coun. Jon Farmer failed to get a seconder on a notice of motion calling for council to direct staff to organize a special meeting to “serve as a working session for broader conversation about concerns and opportunities connected to safety and well being in Owen Sound.”

The notice of motion didn’t proceed.

Farmer called for numerous community organizations and the public to be invited and that a report come back to council with a summary of “suggested opportunities for action for the Corporation of the City of Owen Sound as well as the community of Owen Sound at large.”

Farmer said Rahman’s death has led to many conversations about the safety of the downtown. He said the chamber of commerce was holding a meeting on the matter on Monday, while the Rebound Owen Sound citizen’s group had a meeting planned for Sept. 19.

“People are passionate and concerned,” Farmer said.

“We do have to respond, but as we wrestle with how to move forward I want to take a moment here to highlight that our conversations about safety need to include everyone.

“If we talk about safety for only one subset of our community then we will fail to create spaces in the city that are actually safe and promoting well-being for all.”

He said it is up to everyone to take every opportunity to fill the downtown with people to enjoy the public spaces and frequent businesses and non-profits.

“If the community abandons downtown at this point, if we let fear win, then we will be making all of these situations worse,” Farmer said.





Sun Media