Frustrated with the lack of community safety and security, Toronto councillors discussed how to decrease violence in the city. This topic became a heated discussion Tuesday after Mayor John Tory imtroduced a new motion: “Implementing Tenants First: a New Funding Model for Toronto Community Housing.”
The motion was unanimously approved by the council. It will see funding of $160 million each year for the following 10 years go towards Toronto Community Housing. However, city counsellors pressed on to discuss the urgency of improving safety and security within their communities.
“There is a great number of vulnerable people in all of our Toronto Community Housing buildings of all ages, with all kinds of challenges… We can have the best programs of supportive housing, we can have the best buildings in state of repair. But if people don’t feel safe in their neighbourhood, all that is really meaningless,” Coun. Mike Colle told council.
A motion to establish a community police office in Ward 24 was put on the agenda this week.
“A smaller police station or police presence, where they can interact with the community more, would be beneficial to the community and beneficial for the police,” Coun. Paul Ainslie said in an interview during a lunch break. Ainslie is the councillor for Ward 24 in Toronto. His community contains at least five Toronto Community Housing complexes.
According to the Toronto Police Service website, a neighbourhood community officer program would “work collaboratively with residents as well as community agencies to build sustainable solutions.”
“I think it’s important that the police are seen out and about in their community. If there is a smaller station in the area, people won’t feel that the police are inaccessible. Residents might be willing to walk in, maybe the police will be in the community more, they’ll be more familiar to residents and break down barriers of communications,” Ainslie said.
Acknowledging the council’s concerns, Tory said he supports the idea of having a community police office in parts of Toronto.
“I’ve talked to the chief about the idea because it has a certain appeal to me in the context of having a police presence right in a place where it might be appealing to people,” Tory said. “I, myself, has been somebody who has suggested it a couple of times.”
The idea of creating a community police office has been done once before. On Oct. 29, city council members voted 20-6 to implement a community police office in Ward 8, which is Lawrence Heights.
Currently, the motion to open a community police office in Ward 24 has been sent to the Executive Committee for further examination.