On a bitterly cold evening, Mayor John Tory and Ward 2 Councillor Mike Ford joined a large crowd at a vigil last night for Nnamdi Ogba who, selected at random, was murdered last Friday by two armed men. Mr. Ogba, came to Canada with his parents from Nigeria and became an electrical engineer employed in Brampton. He was visiting friends at Scarlettwood Court when he was shot.
The mayor promised Nnamdi Ogba’s parents that the death of their son would not go in vain.
Mayor Tory was advised that the community would be bringing forward a petition asking for better quality video surveillance.
Scarlettwood Court is a TCHC housing complex in Greater Weston™, just off Scarlett road, on the opposite side of the Humber. The development was built in the 1960s and is home to hundreds of families from a wide variety of backgrounds. Planners (as they did back then) created an isolated enclave in a beautiful setting overlooking Raymore Park with two main entrances; one from busy Scarlett Road and the other from Waterton. There is a little used pathway that leads down to Raymore Park.
In recent years, several shootings have left residents on edge and fearful. These are the major incidents I have been able to track down.
March 2018: Nnamdi Ogba, 26, of Toronto shot dead. – unsolved
*Cold cases are unsolved crimes older than three years.
Toronto Police claim a ‘clearance’ or solving rate for murders of 80%. Clearly 21st Century murders at Scarlettwood have a clearance rate of 0%.
The reason behind the spate of shootings is unclear but the story goes that Scarlettwood is the home of the ‘All Crips Gang‘ which apparently has territorial claims stretching down to Dundas Street. Presumably they deal in drugs and other contraband. There may have been a truce between the various gangs at one time but that seems to have ended. According to police, the latest shooting of Mr Ogba, an electrical engineer, seems to have been entirely by chance; criminals from outside Scarlettwood appear to have selected him randomly.
The local councillor for Scarlettwood (in Ward 2) is Mike Ford who responded to my email on March 19 to say,
“I thank you for bringing this concern to my attention and I do sincerely sympathize with you.
I want to assure you that the safety of Etobicoke is at my highest priority and any violence especially criminal violence is a serious concern.
I have spoken with Mayor Tory and Toronto Police Chief in the past and I will be doing the same for this incident. Although there is no easy answer to this problem I will be following up with yourself and the community for their input on this matter.”
I replied to the councillor that if anyone needs sympathy and help, it’s the law-abiding people trying to raise their families, trapped in the confines of Scarlettwood Court.
Residents told me that dozens of police responded on the night of the murder. Cruisers were parked all along Scarlett Road. Today when I walked through Scarlettwood, there was no police presence and residents confirmed that the police are a rare sight.
What’s to be done?
The Mayor should bring his travelling podium show and together with Councillor Mike Ford visit Scarlettwood to meet with residents and listen to concerns. This would show solidarity with residents.
Toronto Police need to get out of their cars and make meaningful and lasting contact with residents. The Community Safety Unit run by TCHC does not absolve police of their ongoing responsibilities. Police also need to avoid showing up in large numbers rather than in ones and twos.
Community groups and social justice warriors should make this their fight too. They need to contact residents and help organize some kind of community association (if none exists) and start a ‘take back Scarlettwood’ movement.
Politicians, police and the community should make and implement a plan of action to support residents.
Because of the limited entrances to Scarlettwood Court, in addition to the existing cameras, it would seem logical to have good quality cameras set up to monitor who comes and goes; cameras with the ability to see images clearly. In 2016, 100 cameras were installed.
Incidentally, the fight for gun control in the U.S. is our fight too. The majority of guns used in Toronto crimes originate in the U.S.
Quite a few dog owners and their pets were present on Monday evening for the official opening of Raymore Park’s leash free zone. Councillor Mike Ford had organized the event and worked the crowd, introducing himself informally to residents and later made a short speech. People seemed pleased with the facility but the councillor heard a few concerns; namely that the topping of ‘pea gravel’ used to improve drainage seems to bother some pets. The lack of shade was another issue as was access to the small dogs’ zone (currently entered from the large dogs’ zone).
Councillor Ford seemed sympathetic to these and other concerns and promised some consultation with the people from Toronto Parks (Parks Supervisor Lynn Essensa was in attendance). He also sympathized with the patience of residents who have put up with Raymore Park’s long period of being a construction zone and said he was working on getting the last remaining project (sewer pipe re-lining) expedited.