Upcoming events

Toronto Police are hosting an online meeting to discuss bringing the FOCUS program to 12 Division. The FOCUS program (as I understand it) coordinates a group of social programs to respond to people at acute risk of crisis or anti-social behaviour.

The meeting will be August 26 at 6:30. You can register online.


The city will be presenting their findings on laneway suite applications at two sessions: one on August 31, and another on September 1.

This isn’t a presentation for solely Weston and Mount Dennis, but it is an idea that could change housing (a little) here. We have a number of laneways that could be used to build additional housing as planing rules change.

Map of laneways near us from the city.

Another, similar housing option—garden suites—took a small step forward in a committee meeting in late June.


There will be free print-making and story-telling workshops every Wednesday this fall at the Weston Common.

TPS donates 2000 lbs of food

12 Division police donated 2000 pounds of food to local organizations.

In the news release, the police said,

“It was brought to our attention that a lot of families were short of food because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Constable Brandon Mak. “We brought this back to the station and drew up a plan to start an in-house food drive.”…

“We wanted to have some friendly and healthy competition while collecting non-perishable food for a good cause,” said Mak. “About a month in, we had about 1,000 pounds of food that we donated to four groups in the Division.

Image from the TPS

On May 4, the police donated another 1000 pounds of food, including to the Weston King Neighbourhood Centre.

Nunziata opposes defunding the police

Frances Nunziata opposes defunding the policethe international movement to reduce police budgets and redirect the money to other social programs. Her position is nuanced, though: she does believe “there are concrete ways in which the City can improve on emergency responses and replace armed police officers with mobile, community-based crisis programs to de-escalate and triage non-criminal incidents”. She also says that she supports funding for social programs as alternatives to the criminal justice system.

Nunziata says she will oppose a City Council motion that would cut the police’s $1.22 billion budget by 10%.

In an email forwarded to me, she said:

Our society is coming to a touchstone moment for a necessary shift in the way we approach racial injustice, policing, and crisis response. I have been genuinely inspired by the spirited dedication and motivation I am seeing and hearing from residents – and especially youth – across our city. This is a time to express emotions, have what are often considered those uncomfortable conversations, and address what comes out of these conversations in engaged, thoughtful and effective ways.

I do not support the motion to defund the Toronto Police Service by ten percent. While I appreciate the emotion behind it, I do not agree with the recommendations.

There is undoubtedly a need to engage in the conversation and indeed take action on the issues and injustices that are being discussed, but I do not believe that this motion is the way forward.

I wholeheartedly support allocating funding for community-led alternatives to policing and the criminal justice system, anti-racism education, programs identified in the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, childcare, affordable housing, Tenants Defence Fund and food security.

There are still a number of days before City Council and I am listening to all sides of the conversation.

At the Toronto Police Services Board meeting on June 19th, a Motion by Board Member Uppala Chandrasekera was put forward with recommendations for the Board related to current events. The Board referred the report back to the Chair to allow time to engage in broad public consultation on it. I look forward to hearing these discussions.

I do believe that there are concrete ways in which the City can improve on emergency responses and replace armed police officers with mobile, community-based crisis programs to de-escalate and triage non-criminal incidents involving mental health, addictions and homeless individuals. I also believe that these solutions should be decided in consultation with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour community-led organizations and mental health, restorative justice and legal experts.

 

Some closure for the Ogba family.

Readers may remember the brutal, random killing of Brampton electrical engineer Nnamdi Ogba after he visited a friend from his soccer team in Scarlettwood Court back in March 2018. Mr. Ogba had a fiancée and was about to be married. His murder was carried out by three men who decided that someone from the public housing neighbourhood should die because of gang rivalry. In other words it was a cold-blooded act designed to intimidate and repress a community. Mr Ogba’s killing was one in a series that had plagued the people of Scarlettwood Court.

This Toronto Star article outlines the process by which Toronto Police tracked down the three killers (two gunmen and a driver) and brought them to justice. It demonstrates the value of good surveillance video along with determined and expert detective work as well as support from the community.

Yesterday, an automatic sentence of 25 years with no parole eligibility was rendered for the three who were found guilty by a jury last month. Sentencing was done via video link. The judge had harsh words for the killers, calling people who engage in gang rivalries, ‘fools’.

Only one of the three murderers expressed remorse.

Mayor Tory speaks to Nnamdi Ogba’s parents, Margaret Nwsou and Sylva Okzie at a memorial held in Scarlettwood Court in March 2018. (file)

Nothing can bring back Mr. Ogba, however his killing triggered widespread outrage in Toronto. Mayor John Tory attended a memorial held at Scarlettwood in the days after the murder, putting the full weight of his office behind bringing the killers to justice and ending the terror that such crimes inflict on public housing communities.

Let’s hope that Mr. Ogba’s family can take one small shred of comfort that the reaction to Nnamdi’s death may have been a turning point that will prevent the senseless deaths of others.

Thoughts from the lockdown.

As we endure this lockdown, it’s important to think about the people who are still working and keeping things running. Thoughts must especially go to people working in health care and to others on the front lines who have to deal with the public. Thank you for your service. We should also think about the people whose jobs and businesses have been savaged by the virus and who will not be ‘made whole’ by the government. Lastly, the people forced to live in close proximity such as those in long-term care homes. They are in a precarious position thanks to the false economy of staffing through agencies.

Some good things:

Doug Ford – Since his attack on Pusateri’s, he’s becoming seen as everybody’s premier.

Thank you to Councillor Frances Nunziata, MPP Faisal Hassan and MP Ahmed Hussen for keeping us informed via your newsletters.

Air and noise pollution is down because of reduced road and air traffic along with industrial manufacturing. Vehicle collisions and related deaths and injuries may be down.

The sounds of nature are more evident.

If you are no longer driving to work, your insurance company may give you a break.

Crime may be down.

Money will be flowing to most people who need it. 

Civil order has been maintained and people are respecting stay at home and physical distancing orders.

Some bad things:

People are very ill and dying. Families are suffering. Many provinces including Ontario were unprepared despite advanced warning.

There is a severe shortage of the equipment needed to protect health care professionals. This video shows nurses in China preparing to face COVID-19 patients and the astonishing amount of protection required to keep them safe. Ontario is still scrambling to obtain adequate stockpiles of this equipment. By contrast, Alberta began buying PPE in December when they correctly anticipated the pandemic’s arrival in Canada. Where was Ontario’s Ministry of Health at this time? It’s no secret that during a pandemic, huge amounts of PPE and ventilators are needed.


There are too many public health voices across Canada. We need a nation-wide COVID-19 response. This would coordinate the actions, policies and purchasing from all areas of the country.

We applied little from our 2003 SARS experience in Toronto. Pandemic planning was inadequate and interventions ineffective because they were too late. We didn’t have testing at airports to identify those bringing the virus into the country along with early enough mandatory quarantines for all. Police have only recently started charging physical distancing violators.

People in charge of containment don’t seem to be up to the job. It’s great having health departments but one gets a strong impression of unpreparedness and playing catch-up. Take for example the mask debacle. We were first told that masks were ineffective and now apparently they ‘may’ work to prevent an infected person from spreading the virus. Perhaps scarves can be re-purposed. We’re still not testing enough nor are we tracking the spread of the virus intelligently. The other day, Ford was demanding that the province test more people. Perhaps he should have a word with the premier or the health minister.

Nursing and long-term care homes are sitting targets and their under-funding has cost many lives. Many of these institutions obtain support staff from agencies who save money by deliberately not providing full-time employment. Many agency staff are paid low wages, zero benefits and may be required to work in several institutions. This and a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) have ensured that infections in care homes have spread rapidly. British Columbia stopped this practice weeks ago. Meanwhile, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott is still pondering whether to do the same.

People who are on the front lines need more help and material support.

Local businesses are hurting.  We should be supporting our local businesses so that they are around once this thing is over.

Some interesting things:

This is an Easter to remember and people will be writing about this pandemic for years.

COVID-19 and its effects will last for a long time; experts predict that there will be further waves of the virus.

From CityNews.

It’s interesting that Ford is being a lot more honest with the people. Let’s hope that he is capable of learning from this pandemic and understanding that good government funding is vital when preparing for times like these. He should end the self-publicizing photo-ops of him carting boxes of masks. We have people for that and besides; it’s disingenuous to make political capital out of a tragedy you could have done much more to prevent.

We should copy what they do in Taiwan where the infection has been controlled with superb coordination and a lot less financial disruption. Taiwan has demonstrated that it is vital to set up an intelligent approach to tracking contacts of people with the disease and ensuring compliance with quarantine orders. Sadly, Taiwan is unrecognized by the World Health Organization for political reasons.

I occasionally go for walks around our neighbourhood in Greater Weston™  and it boggles the mind to know that in spite of the quiet streets, most people are home.

Cruise lines may never recover. Norwalk and other infections were always an issue on cruise ships as one’s fellow passengers could not be relied on to wash their hands to protect others. Experience has shown that while this virus is loose, cruise ships can not provide a safe experience either for passengers or the people in the ports they visit. Cruise lines are unlikely to get a large bail-out either since they are registered elsewhere.

Surgical type face-masks may become a common sight in flu season long after COVID-19 has gone. People in Asia know that face-masks work to stem flu-like diseases. At the beginning of the outbreak we were told not to bother. Now, the same people are saying they may be effective to stop an infected person from spreading the disease. At this rate they’ll soon be mandatory.

Stay tuned.

Update: Global news is reporting a massive COVID-19 outbreak at Humber Heights Retirement Home on Lawrence Avenue and Scarlett Road. Seven residents are dead and twenty-three residents along with fourteen staff are infected.  Read more here.

Man pulled from Humber today

According to Toronto Police, a 75 year-old man was pulled from the Humber River near Hickory Tree and Lawrence this morning. The rescue was made using a pole to lift the man up to the riverbank. Efforts to revive him were made at the scene and he was transported to hospital in life-threatening condition. It is not yet known how the man entered the water. Read more here.