Drivers have seen it for years; the steady decline in courtesy and good driving on our roads. Pedestrians and cyclists have noticed it too – yes, sometimes from our fellow pedestrians and cyclists. We’re at the stage now where drivers routinely blow through stale yellow and even red lights. People who think their time is more important than everyone else’s safety weave in and out, cutting people off and travelling at dangerous speeds. Many vehicle plates are covered with dark plastic to avoid detection and window glass is tinted far beyond legal limits. Police officers on our streets are a rare sight – unless on paid duty at a construction or road work site. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage going on there.
Despite the wild west type driving experiences of recent years and the increasing number of deaths and injuries on our roads, there has been a steep decline in the number of traffic violations in our city. Police issued 140,000 fewer tickets in 2019 than they did in 2009. Careless driving charges dropped by 44%.
Are the police focussing their efforts elsewhere? It doesn’t look like it. The City’s homicide rate rose from 2.1 per 100,000 people in 2014 to 3.1 in 2018. Our murder rate was higher in 2018 than that of New York City.
So what’s going on? We have 5400 uniform and non-uniform police officers in Toronto – where are they all? How do they spend their time? If they’re not on the roads, where else could they be? Since tickets are down, they can’t all be in court or doing paperwork. They also respond to fewer types of complaints. Noise issues for example now go to a city by-law department.
Is it a morale problem? Are police having a giant snit because their numbers are down? Why is Mayor Tory not doing something? The failure of Vision Zero was not properly addressed and a name change to Vision Zero 2.0 was seen as the answer. What about Chief Saunders? The whole point of a police force is to protect lives and property by enforcing the law. Effective policing acts as a deterrent to further criminal behaviour. Visibility is part of that deterrence aspect.
In the U.K. beefed up road policing is seen to be effective in combatting other crimes. After all, criminals use the roads and they’re often driving badly. More enforcement on our roads would uncover more criminal behaviour.
In the meantime, we need answers from Mayor Tory and Chief Saunders. The solution belongs with them but neither one seem to be owning the problem.
The city will install a crosswalk on Eglinton where an elderly woman was struck and killed trying to cross. According to Toronto.com
York-South Weston Coun. Frances Nunziata requested the city install the pedestrian crossing on Eglinton Avenue West, 100 metres west of Pearen Street in order to address an 800-metre gap between protected pedestrian crossings on that stretch. Council approved the signalized crossing in a meeting on Jan. 29. No firm date was set for installation.
In related news, Etobicoke York Community Council has overruled city staff and asked the city to install speed humps on John Street between Pine and Elm. When surveyed, 59% of respondents said that they were in favour. To recommend humps, city staff require 60% approval. Four councillors, including Nunziata, voted in favour of the humps. One councillor, Stephen Holyday, voted against them.
Frances Nunziata , John Tory, and Councillor Michael Thompson announced yesterday that the proposed budget will include $6 million to curb gun violence by, among other things, “creating new youth hubs [and] opening new youth spaces”—one of which seems likely to be on Falstaff Avenue and one of which may be in Mount Dennis.
I am proud that the proposed 2020 budget includes $6M in additional anti-violence funding. This investment will address the root causes of violence by creating new youth hubs, opening new youth spaces, and providing new Community Youth Violence Prevention Grants. https://t.co/skl7OkHWVx
Toronto is an extremely safe city, but there was quite a lot of gun violence last year, including in York South–Weston. There were 9 murders in 12 Division in 2019, triple the number in 2018. (12 Division includes many other neighbourhoods) There were 490 shootings in Toronto last year—and shootings have increased dramatically since 2014.
The locations for the youth hubs have not been announced, and the funding must be approved by City Council, but that Nunziata and Tory made the announcement at Falstaff is encouraging.
In 2018, library staff also proposed opening a youth hub in Mount Dennis. In 2018, the TPL’s manager of youth services, Lisa Heggum, toldThe Star
The library has always been a space for youth…. Especially in more disadvantaged neighbourhoods, youth rely on access to computers, WiFi, books and other resources. The hub adds another space to connect with teens, she said.
She stressed their role is facilitation not supervision in a space where teens are encouraged to be loud and librarians aren’t shushing anyone.
If you’re in a bit of a pickle because of the teachers’ walkout planned for Thursday and Friday, hustle over to this Google form and sign your little ones up for the “West Toronto Solidarity Camp”. It’s organized by parents and community volunteers “in solidarity with our striking educators”.
The camp will be on Thursday, February 6 and Friday, February 7 at the Canadian Legion at 3591 Dundas St W. They’re asking for a suggested donation of $10 a day, but nobody will be turned away.