New program, funding geared at helping communities rebuild in wake of violent crimes: Tory
The city will introduce a new program geared towards helping communities heal in the wake of violent crimes.
The program, which will be run in coordination with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, is one of three new measures that Mayor John Tory announced following a meeting with Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale and several other leaders on Thursday.
The remaining initiatives include the expansion of the FOCUS program, which brings together community stakeholders to identify individuals, groups and places that are at a high risk of being involved in criminal behavior. Currently that program is only run in Rexdale and north Scarborough but as part of its expansion it will soon be offered in the Jane and Finch community and in other parts of Etobicoke.
As well, the provincial and federal governments will provide funding to start a new city-wide program aimed at having young offenders sentenced to community service rather than jail as a way to better integrate them into the community and put them on a “more positive path.”
“There is no magic wand or magic potion that we can unveil that will be a solution to this problem but we have to just keeping working and working, and working to add measures, to assist law enforcement and to do all the things we have to do to keep our community safe,” Tory told reporters at city hall.
Tory requested the meeting amid a spike in crime
Thursday’s meeting was attended by Tory, Goodale, Member of Parliament Marco Mendicino, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services David Orazietti and Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders.
Tory requested the meeting back on June 8 following a number of high-profile shootings in the city, including one that resulted in the death of pregnant mother Candice Rochelle Bobb.
Speaking with reporters, the mayor confirmed that the city will spend $100,000 annually on the community healing program with most of that money being given out in “small grants to individual response teams” on a case-by-case basis.
Some of the services that the city hopes to offer communities where violent acts have taken place include counselling support, youth engagement programs, relationship building activities with the Toronto Police Service and the provision of safe places for neighbourhood healing sessions and focus groups.
“When a shooting takes place in the neighbourhood it is a traumatic experience obviously for those directly involved but also for the people that live in that community,” Tory said. “This fund will help to heal communities and it will help people cope with what has happened close to their homes or workplaces.”
Tory initially requested Thursday’s meeting with the intent of discussing how to “stem the flow of illegal guns into our country.”
Though Tory said that he did discuss that topic with Goodale, he said that the scope of the meeting extended beyond guns.
“I think what people should take some heart from is that we are sitting all together, including with the police, and working together to try to address this the best we can,” he said.