Is it time to panic?

When you say “Don’t panic!” the first thing everyone does is panic. So let me try this: Don’t worry!

There have been five-or-so shootings in Weston’s downtown this year, clustering around Lions Park. This week saw another: a young man was shot near Weston Road shootings-at-lpand Bellevue. At least some of the shootings are related.

Should we worry? Sure. Should we panic? Nah.

Gun crime across the city has risen dramatically. In the past four years, gunplay has more than doubled, from 185 incidents in 2014 to 382 so far this year.

What is behind it? Mayor Tory says gangs. Doubtless, this is true. But 2013 was the safest year Toronto has seen in decades and 2014 and 2015 were not far behind.

Gun crime, therefore, is also increasing because it had nowhere to go but up. The statistically-inclined call this regression to the mean.

Global cities ranking of safety, from The Economist
Global cities ranking of safety, from The Economist

But, you say, “Things are getting worse! I’m out of here! Weston is going down the tubes!”

Toronto is the safest city in the world. Every single place you could move would be less safe than here. Meditate on that. You’d be jumping from the fat to the fire.

Perhaps you were planning a move to another neighbourhood within Toronto—moving to somewhere safer among the safest. That, at least, is logical.

But where? Is anywhere safe?

Riverdale map
Rivers of *blood*

I was in Riverdale yesterday. Nice ‘hood! Boutique cheese and a restaurant that serves only bacon sandwiches. Really! Shame about the gun crime, though: 9 shootings and three homicides. Weirdly, everybody there seems cool with it. Perhaps they like a little gritty cred with their peameal and gorg.

Junction Triangle
Time for another rebranding, Junction Triangle.

I moved to Weston from the up-and-coming Junction Triangle. I suppose I should be glad I did! There were two shootings at the end of my old street, and a murder where I used to walk my dog. Weird then that the property values have gone bonkers.

Perhaps you’re considering a move across the river, to genteel Etobicoke. Don’t! That’d be moving into Fallujah! It’s a war zone on Scarlett: 12 shootings and a homicide!

etobicoke map
Scarlett with BLOOD.

“Wait”, you say, “12 shootings in Etobicoke? Nobody mentioned that on the Ceeb! How come?”

‘Confirmation bias’ is the notion that we seek out and remember evidence for our preexisting beliefs–in this case that Weston is a rough neighbourhood and the recent spate of crime proves it.

I haven’t heard anybody saying that Etobicoke is going to hell. That is because Etobicokians, unlike us, aren’t primed for confirmation bias. They’re not looking for evidence to support their prejudices. Etobicokians brush off shootings as anomalies; Westonians see them as evidence.

Look, I won’t lie to you. There are safer parts of town. You could move to Rosedale or Baby Point. There is almost no gun crime there. The rich are practically immune from it.shootings

So say you want to sell your condo and buy a fridge box in Rosedale. Should you? Well, you would be selling in panic, in a statistically abnormal year. I won’t tell you how to spend your money, but if you do decide to sell, call me first. Because I’d be buying in Weston, not unloading. Things get better, slowly, and erratically to be sure, but better.

Keep some perspective. Reader, you are very, very unlikely to be affected by violent crime. Don’t flatter yourself: nobody cares about you enough to shoot you.

One more thing:  It is much cheaper to lobby and push for change than it is to up and run. Character is expensively bought, but cheaply sold. (And real estate fees are 6% plus a land transfer tax.) You’re better off, and a better person, if you

  • Volunteer to help young people.
  • Call your councillor, MPP, and MP and ask what they are doing about crime.
  • Make a friend in the neighbourhood.
  • Report concerns and call in crimes.
  • Lobby for funding, jobs, transit, training, rec centres, increased taxes on the rich, more generous transfers to the poor, lower tuition, higher minimum wages and so on.
  • Join a club. Visit the Legion. Have a drink in the Army & Navy Club (if you dare; it’s off Scarlett!). Borrow a dog and go for a walk.

Our community makes Weston safe. Our community makes Weston great.



Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.

7 thoughts on “Is it time to panic?”

  1. The issue comes down to folks not feeling safe walking along weston rd. its just ugly. at least in the junction or other parts of the city you can walk along the street and have nice shops to visit, busy sidewalks etc etc…somewhere to go. In weston all we have is ugly apartment towers lining the street and yet we are going to add more rental towers…….even John Street bridge, its ugly when you look west from Rosemount, very uninviting…..yet on the John street side it looks fancy……mistake after mistakes are made……

  2. Thank you for the article!! I just upgraded up my home because of how optimistic I have been about the improvements in the area. (i.e. UP Transit, Future performance Centre, New townhomes and condos) but I have been concerned with the recent gun violence. Three in less than 2 months. I assume the victim on Friday is conscious? I was hoping to hear updates from the Police if this was targeted or not.

    1. “Future performance Centre”. ….your joking? you mean rental space from Artscape? Condos….where? you mean rental towers?

      1. The article I read described it as a performance and event space. Correct, I was referring to the information about Artscape. They are building new town homes in the area as well and a condo tower south of Weston and Lawrence. It’s “Options for Homes” selling the units but I’m hopeful that with new developments and more people moving into the area, it’ll help the local businesses and Weston as a whole. I’m trying to being hopeful and optimistic because I do love the area and the parks are beautiful. There is so much potential in Weston.

  3. What a wonderful, thoughtful and informative article, Adam! Your work helps us all think about what we love here and how we can preserve and enhance the community.

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