The real reason to worry about crime in Weston

A recent very complimentary article in the Globe and Mail said that Weston was one of the very nicest neighbourhoods in all Canada—and it was correct. But it also built dramatic tension from a play between crime and neighbourhood pride.

That got my friend and me talking, and I did a little, only-slightly-more-than-cursory digging into the numbers. It turns out that Weston has crime, yes, but no more crime than some of the nicest neighbourhoods in the GTA.

The Toronto Police have a remarkably accessible and detailed set of statistics. I took from them the assault rate in 12 and 31 Division from the past year. I chose the assault rate because, first, it’s of interest given the recent rash of muggings in the area, and, second, because it is a large number that would likely be more stable than, say, the murder rate, which could vary dramatically from year to year. 12 and 31 Divisions include Weston, but also other, likely more violent areas like Jane and Finch, Chalkfarm, and Jane and Eglinton. In 12 Division, there were  985 assaults per 100,000 residents. In 31 Division, there were 955.

I chose the Peel Region for comparison because it is nearby and has a good reputation. Peel includes Mississauga, Brampton, and the wealthy Caledon region. In 2010, there were 951 assaults there per 100,000 residents—almost exactly the same as in the Weston area. 12 and 31 Divisions had only 2% more assaults per capita.

It turns out, then, that the Globe and Mail is half wrong. We are the nicest neighbourhood in Ontario, but we don’t have a (statistical) problem with crime. Weston is no more dangerous than Peel (if the assault rate is anything to go by). You are no more in danger today in Weston than you are in Square One. In fact, you’re probably safer, since assaults are way down this year.

What, then, to make of the recent rash of muggings?

First, they are a blip. There are two thousand assaults around here every year—most, presumably and deplorably, behind closed doors. 20 muggings is a blip in comparison—but a very visible and very disturbing blip.

Second, they deserve the full attention of the police, politicians, and public. They don’t deserve it because muggers endanger us on the streets. You’re safe. The muggings must be stopped because they are just the sort of crime that makes Weston a worse place in the long run. Public crime drives out private investment, and conversely private investment, from homeowners and businesses, drives out public crime—by creating better neighbourhoods and better jobs. When we cannot stop public crime, we risk a vicious cycle.

In short, crime breeds criminality. That’s why it must be stopped—not for today, but for tomorrow.



Nunziata responds to muggings

Frances Nuniziata, the City Councillor for Weston, spoke with me about the recent rash of muggings in Weston. She said, in short, “31 Division is on top of it”.

Nunziata said that two things have caused the recent rash of muggings: patrons from the bars primarily on the eastern side of Jane St, and some problems coming from Chaminade School, on Queens Drive, on the other side of Jane. She said, as regular readers will know, that she has opposed liquor license applications in Weston, and will continue to do so. The police have visited Chaminade school, and they have been speaking with the school administration.

More police will be in Weston over the summer; as “part of the TAVIS program, we’ll have 38 extra officers patrolling the main streets an residential areas”, she said. “They were very successful at Eglinton and Jane last year. We’re very fortunate to get [TAVIS] here in Weston.” The crime cameras, however, will be installed only along Weston Rd, not at Jane and Lawrence.

Long term, and to divert young people away from crime, the city is building a community centre at Keelesedale Park at Eglinton and Black Creek; “that will be a $30 million facility “, she said. Weston also recently received an artificial turf soccer field and the skateboard facility at Lion’s Park, she pointed out.

Nunizata also said that she is continuing to work toward a new indoor market and cultural hub. Promisingly, she is also “having discussions” to bring a YMCA to Weston, perhaps at the long-vacant 33 King St building. She said she met with the president of the YMCA last week.

I sent emails to Laura Albanese, Mike Sullivan, and the Toronto Police. Laura Albanese has responded, but I haven’t had the time to speak with her. I haven’t heard back from the police or Mike Sullivan.

Weston one of the “Greatest Communities in Canada”

The Globe and Mail ran a wonderful article on Weston on Canada Day—and Weston was named as one of the greatest communities in Canada! The author, Josh O’Kane, really understands why we love our town:

It has crime but it also has pride – and people working to overcome its problems. Weston isn’t perfect but in many ways it still offers a slice of small-town life in Toronto….

The small-town roots are reflected in Weston’s weekly farmers market, which draws up to 1,000 visitors, and the fact there is still a local Santa Claus parade.

So far, there are no comments on the article—go on, and let the country know we’re proud!

Thanks to Diana Stapleton for nominating Weston, and thanks to Brigitte for tipping me off in the forum.


Nunziata All Shook Up in Lions Park

Here in Weston we may not have had Will and Kate, but Frances Nunziata sang with ‘Elvis’ yesterday at the July 1st bash in Lion’s Park. How did she compare? Let’s say that she is a gifted politician and leave it at that!

Thank you, thank you very much.

This year for the first time, organizers put up decent fencing to contain the fireworks area thus allowing access to the park via the Humber footbridge. Many people made a day of the occasion, and several food outlets did a brisk trade. The fireworks were spectacular.

Nunziata Slammed in James’ Column

Royson James writes socially themed editorials in the Toronto Star. In today’s column he slams (among others) Frances Nunziata for stating that Priority Neighbourhood status is hampering positive change in Weston-Mount Dennis because the negative label drives away business. She’s quoted in the column as saying that Priority Neighbourhood Status increases insurance rates and puts developers off from even opening up a coffee shop.

Snake oil salesmen are more cuddly than these suburban city councillors who masquerade as caretakers of Toronto’s neediest of city wards. And a lot more truthful….

Councillor Frances Nunziata declared that Weston-Mount Dennis can do so much better without the “priority neighbourhood” label council has attached to it, a label that has attracted millions of dollars of added community services.

Now, she says, developers don’t even want to bring a coffee shop into the neighbourhood. Besides, insurance rates shot up when insurers, apparently, found out — from the label, no doubt — that this was a part of town with social challenges.

In other words, change the name and the developers will come. Ha!

These comments along with the councillor’s repeated objections to liquor licence applications in Weston make us wonder (again) about the councillor’s vision for Weston’s commercial district. Would she like to replicate Bloor West Village along Weston Road and Jane Street? Is this a trial balloon to explore axing the Priority Neighbourhood Program? Perhaps our councillor would care to shed some light on this topic.