Seems someone forgot to tell the City of Toronto there are at-risk youth in Scarborough, or so says Leon Saul.
The Ward 42 council candidate in the upcoming Oct. 25 election says Malvern needs the city’s help.
“The city and the Toronto Police Commission have not lived up to their mandate that they set, back several years ago, to fund these youth initiatives and get gang-related members out of the crime environment,” Saul said. “In fact, funding was cut and taken away from some of the programs in the Malvern priority neighbourhood and that’s a great concern: that even though Malvern has been designated a priority neighbourhood, priority funding was not maintained.”
One of the projects heralded by the city is Project Prevention and Intervention Toronto (PIT). The program is designed to deter youth aged 13–24 from joining gangs and engaging in gang-related activities. It began in September 2008 and is scheduled to conclude March 2011.
Seventy-eight youths from three targeted neighbourhoods — Jamestown, Jane and Finch, and Weston and Mount Dennis — graduated from the first round of this program on Aug. 26.
According to Public Safety Canada, which released a report detailing the project, neighbourhoods contained limited services for youth and members of the community were concerned about a rise in youth crime rates.
Malvern seems to have been swept under the rug for now even though it is considered one of Toronto’s 13 priority neighbourhoods, Saul said.
“Since the funding cuts in Malvern, I think a lot of the youth became discouraged and disillusioned and they just turned their backs on the whole program,” he said. “So it’s not a matter of ‘We got this, come and get it.’ It’s about being there on a daily, regular level, finding these young people and getting them involved.”
Racial profiling is a real issue, especially in Scarborough, Saul said adamantly, adding community safety has improved at the expense of profiling.
“The policemen on bikes are riding around targeting young black kids unnecessarily who they see ‘liming’ or ‘hanging out’, and the reason why is there are no facilities to engage them or resources being put together to get them off the streets and getting them into something more productive,” he said.
PIT project manager Jabari Lindsay was not available for comment by press time.