Stolen cell phones to banned from the networks!

Huzzah!

Stolen phones will soon become much less valuable. The CRTC announced today that the association of cell phone providers will create a blacklist of stolen phones, which will no longer be able to connect to the carriers. They did this to make stolen phones much less valuable, and thus make muggings less profitable.

Weston has suffered from a rash of cell phone muggings. Last year there were 139 muggings in 12 Division (which includes but is much larger than Weston). Already this year there have 166 robberies in 12 Division, and at least 22 muggings in Weston. In every case, the muggers demanded the victim’s phone.

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that this national change started in Weston. Students at Chaminade have been pushing for a solution to neighbourhood muggings, and both Frances Nunziata and Mike Sullivan deserve credit for getting the telcos to act. Sullivan has been lobbying in Ottawa and in the House, speaking at length on the issue. Nunziata  has been working with the Police Services Board and the Canadian Association of Police Boards to pressure the feds.

Sullivan said, rather understatedly, that this is “a bit of good news. I’ve been raising this issue every chance I got.” He said some work remains to be done, including ensuring that it becomes illegal (and not merely very difficult) to change a phone’s serial number, but expressed optimism that the database would be running before the end of September 2013.

 

Weston Station to get bike lockers

GO Transit has promised a reader that they will install bike lockers to stem bicycle thefts at the station.

In a letter to a Weston resident (forwarded to me) GO said that they are trying to find a location for the lockers. They promised to have the lockers installed “as soon as possible”.

At least four bikes have been stolen from the station since it opened a few months ago. There are no staff on site after 10 am, and the bike racks are not in plain sight or, it seems, under camera surveillance.

Cityslkir slams ‘Queen Frances’

If you ever get a chance to watch Cable 10’s live broadcasts or webcasts of Toronto City Council meetings, you’re in for quite an interesting time. This is where politics, personalties and dogma come together to exchange verbal blows and while the result isn’t pretty, it’s compulsive viewing for political junkies. It’s also a chance to view our councillor, Frances Nunziata in her other main role as Council Speaker.

Toronto blogger Cityslikr has written a scathing indictment of Councillor Frances Nunziata’s performance in this other role. Cityslikr puts our councillor’s performance right up there with the antics of wildly controversial Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, both tireless, partisan defenders of Mayor Rob Ford and his team. According to Cityslikr,

Hectoring, nakedly partisan, she has maintained the fractious, contentious tone bestowed on council chambers by Don Cherry in his inaugural address.

Read the full article here.

Crime down in Weston, still troubling

Total crime in Weston has been falling for the past seven years, according to data made available by the CBC. There are areas of concern, however, and crime rates here are still higher than in the city as a whole.

Break and enter crimes have fallen the most; in 2011, there were 45 break-ins, compared to 127 in 2005. Auto thefts are down almost as much, from 91 in 2004 to 32 last year. Those are declines of about 66%.

Not all categories of crime show similar decline, however; drug arrests are generally flat, and, indeed, showed an increase last year, perhaps because of the increased police presence from TAVIS. Assaults and sexual assaults showed no decline (but no increase either).

Almost half of all crimes in Weston are assaults, but almost all assaults are domestic. (I watch the police blotter every day; public fights are extremely rare.) The rate of assault, however, is troublingly high.

There have been many upsetting robberies lately in Weston; generally youth and children have their electronics stolen. After reaching a low in 2008, robberies rebounded to a new high last year: 66 people were robbed in 2011. That is simply far too many, and the victims are often our most vulnerable. We have a robbery rate in Weston that is about four times the national average.

 

Yet, as the chart shows, Weston has a street crime rate generally no worse than in Canada as a whole. The statistics are hard to gather¹, but I feel comfortable concluding that we are a little less safe on our streets than in Toronto proper, but about as safe as elsewhere in the country—simply because Toronto is an extremely safe city. In 2010, it was the safest city of any size in Canada.

The spreadsheets released by the CBC did not, unfortunately, include any data on gun crimes. This week saw a spate of gun violence in Mount Dennis and Falstaff areas—violence which could easily have been in, or spilled over into, Weston. Our fears of gun crime will have to remain nebulous until the data can be gathered.

 

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¹ It’s not easy, because the historical data are not given in rates per 100,000 but as absolute numbers per neighbourhood. This makes inter-region comparison very difficult.

 

Zombies invade!

Last night, despite the rain, thousands of zombies and vampires descended on Weston, failing, on the whole, to scare any residents.

Our man on Queens says that attendance was down from last year; he reckons that about 650 kids visited his house, compared to 800 last year. Queens was still the hot destination, though; at my house, we got only around 200 goblins before we turned out the lights.

Reviewers said (in fewer words) that the evening was a great success, despite the weather; in response to my questions, I heard,  “Uh huh. Humph, humph. Yeah. Nom, nom“, which I took to be satisfaction with the night.

The second annual WestonWeb award for best house design goes out to the Egyptians on Queens. Their costumes were especially brilliant; they hand-made masks and clothing to represent the Egyptian gods. The prize: as much chocolate as you can carry.

 

Weston Station Master Plan released

Last June, at the end of a year-long process of consultation, Metrolinx revealed the Weston Station Master Plan through a presentation followed by a discussion and question and answer session held at the Active Living Centre. The plan itself was not available in document form at the time but has now been finalized and released as a stand-alone 80-page document. The plan outlines the vision created when planning experts’ ideas have been combined with those of the community to produce a fascinating look into the future of Weston.

As residents we should all take the time to review this important document and take note of the implications for ourselves and future Weston residents.

As Adam has noted with regard to recent thefts from the new station’s bike racks, it is hoped that all aspects of the vision can be implemented with a clear eye on the realities of an urban environment.