‘What can I do to make my neighbourhood safer?’

A safety walk meant to solicit answers to that question draws a disappointing turnout in the wake of a fatal stabbing in East York

What if you hosted a safety walk and no one showed up?

That’s almost what happened to Ward 31 Councillor Janet Davis, who was disappointed with the “very low” turnout for the community initiative at East York’s Stan Wadlow Park on March 7.

Perhaps there’s good news in the lack of interest. Maybe, as Davis believes, it means East York residents feel safe, despite the fact that 15-year-old Isaiah Witt was fatally stabbed in the park last October.

It’s just as likely, though, that most East Yorkers weren’t aware of the walk, or the two or three that have been held previously. So, for those people, the March walk was held in response to Watt’s death and to collect suggestions to make the park safer for residents.

The walk is actually part of a survey, called a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design audit, that aims to determine areas of the park that are unsafe from an environmental design perspective. The team looks for areas that require additional lighting or video surveillance, among other things.

Davis is already talking about improvements to the lighting to make the park more visible to residents and to Toronto Police.

That’s great news for this park and any areas where neighbours gather.
But the real win will be to get more residents involved in safety walks and other efforts to improve safety, and take away the need for these walks in the first place.

Ask yourself, “What can I do to make my neighbourhood safer?”
And share your ideas with your neighbours and your city councillor.