Skip to main content

Toronto councillor calls on province to set up Safe School Zones after shots fired at Jewish school

Share

A Toronto city councillor is urging the province to establish Safe School Zones across Ontario after shots were fired at a Jewish girls’ school in North York over the weekend.

Earlier this week, Coun. Mike Colle launched a petition that calls on Premier Doug Ford and the provincial government to immediately introduce and pass legislation that would lead to the creation of designated Safe School Zones around all school properties in the province and impose “strong penalties” on individuals found guilty of “intimidating, harassing, or threatening the wellbeing of students, staff, or parents within these zones.” The zones would be roughly 15 metres around schools, Colle said.

It also calls for increased penalties for misconduct for anyone who commits acts of harassment, hate or intimidation against any person “appropriately attending the school” and for anyone found to be in possession of weapons like knives or guns within school zones.

Colle said these charges would fall under the Provincial Offenses Act and could lead to “significant” fines and up to two years of jail time for those convicted.

Colle’s petition also asks the province to increase funding for school security, including the installation of security equipment and technology like CCTV cameras, as well as security guards “when deemed necessary for enhanced protection and prevention.”

During an interview earlier this week, he said the latest incident in North York has caused an “explosion of fear in the community.”

“Parents are sending their kids to school feeling concerned. It’s a high-anxiety time. They’re very traumatized and fearful,” Colle said.

“We’ve got to do something.”

Calling the legislation he’s proposing a “new level of security for our schools,” he said that the City of Toronto has responded by stepping up the police presence in vulnerable neighbourhoods, but said more must be done.

“Some of the schools say they’re paying $5,000 a day for extra security because they need it 24/7,”  said Colle.

“Parents are seeking peace of mind. … I think these school safety zones will help calm things down.”

CP24.com has reached out to the Premier’s Office for comment on Colle’s proposed legislation, but has not yet received a response.

Toronto police told CTV News Toronto that the investigation into the shooting at Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School, which is being supported by the hate crimes unit, remains ongoing. No arrests have been made at this point, they said.

During an unrelated news conference on Thursday morning with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Toronto Mayor Olivia, Ford characterized what occurred at the school as an act of violence directed towards the Jewish community.

“It’s just out of control,” he said.

“Growing up here, our whole lives, everyone in this room, we’ve never seen anything like this before and it has to stop. … We can’t have people in the Jewish community being attacked like they have been.”

The premier also vowed to devote “every single resource” possible to catching the perpetrators of this crime, including increasing funding for law enforcement.

“But folks, let’s cut to the chase, here. What lunatic goes around shooting up schools? This is just unacceptable,” he said, adding that the province has given thousands of dollars to places of worship that are feeling threatened.

“These guys need to be caught. They need to be punished. They need to be thrown in jail. And I’ll tell you we have zero tolerance for this anywhere in Ontario.”

Ford went so far as to infer in his remarks that immigrants are the alleged perpetrators of this crime despite the fact that police have said they have little information on suspects. The comments were quickly met with condemnation from the leader of the opposition, who accused the premier of fanning “the flames of xenophobia and hate.”

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the premier was “inflaming anti-immigrant sentiment without any proof.”

Premier Doug Ford, centre, delivers remarks while being flanked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow, right, during a press conference in the facilities of vaccine producer Sanofi, in Toronto on Thursday, May 30, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey

 

City taking action, Chow says

While Toronto’s mayor did not specifically speak about Colle’s petition at Thursday’s news conference, she told reporters that she visited the school earlier this week.

She said that through her roundtable on safety, the city is taking action by bringing together the police, the transportation department, different communities, and local councillors for safety walks.

On Thursday morning, she said these walks, which are part of a pilot project, will “help inform” local places of worship, schools, and all places where people are “feeling a bit insecure” to consider what they can do to help improve their surroundings, including installing shatter-proof glass and cameras, improving fencing and lighting, and removing visual obstructions.

“We assist because we have the knowledge. We know the best practices,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, said the federal government took the “significant step” a number of years ago of creating a security infrastructure program, which he said has given places of worship, community centres, and religious communities the opportunity to create protection through police cameras and other security measures. He said this program includes the Toronto Jewish school that was shot at over the weekend.

Trudeau also said that the federal government has called for and “end to hatred and intolerance in Canada, whether it be antisemitism or Islamophobia,” adding that events happening overseas should not lead people to “hate on other Canadians.”

“We are all united in our strength and diversity and our desire for a better country and a better world. We shouldn't be attacking each other and that is the message that we will continue to put out,” he said.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

OPINION

OPINION Movies to watch when you're bored

Being bored is the opposite of fun, so film critic Richard Crouse made a list of supercharged movies to help you fire up the neurons, tweak the imagination and drop kick boredom into the next century.

Stay Connected