Community Safety Town hall - February 27, 2023
Thank you to the almost 300 residents who attended our first Community Safety Townhall both online and in-person. We plan to hold these regularly to keep the community up to date on our neighbourhood as well as provide opportunities to share feedback with our police services and local agencies in the community. Below is a summary of information shared.
Unit Commander Dan Belanger for 32 Division acknowledged there are safety concerns in Willowdale, particularly along Yonge Street. He noted Toronto Police Services [TPS] has experienced a three-year hiring freeze creating resource challenges and reducing their ability to be as proactive as they want to be. Community Response Units were redeployed to TPS frontlines in June 2022 to increase 911 response times which has resulted in a decrease in community presence. Here is the data they shared. Anyone can log onto the Toronto Police Service Public Safety Data Portal and create your own comparative report. Here is a report for Willowdale East/West and Newtonbrook East/West for 2022.
Questions/concerns for 32 Division
Reported crimes community members experienced included: theft from storage locker, harassment, assault, car broken into, son accosted, vandalism, graffiti and multiple car thefts.
I'm not comfortable going to the mall because I don’t want my car stolen or car-jacked. How to better protect selves from auto theft? Should we install personal surveillance cameras?
Auto theft is an enormous problem across Willowdale, Toronto and beyond. Organized crime is behind a lot of it. Every car-jacking is assigned a special unit and we have seen significant decreases. TPS has plain clothes officers working with uniformed officers everyday in Willowdale to address auto theft. According to 32 Division, there are not enough officers to address this. The technology used by thieves who unlock and start cars using a mobile phone is challenging.
Contact 32 Division front desk if you would like an officer to perform a security audit at your property and make recommendations. Consider installing a personal video surveillance equipment at your home or business and placing an Apple Air Tag or similar device in your vehicle.
Difficulty submitting large-file video evidence to TPS?
32 Division offered to help this attendee off-line. We will look into TPS solutions offered to this large-file challenge and include them in an upcoming Councillor Cheng newsletter.
How can we stop loud vehicles racing on Yonge Street? What’s being done to increase road safety?
Staff Sergeant Sean Cosgrove shared they are currently exploring the establishment of a patrol on the Yonge Street corridor in Willowdale on foot and bicycles to increase police presence in a phased in approach. Officers will engage with residents and businesses through this high-visibility patrol. 32 Division is also considering the installation of video cameras at Yonge Street intersections to create a visible deterrent and capture footage for investigations.
Vision Zero has introduced new 30 km signs to slow down roads in Willowdale. Councillor Lily Cheng will host a workshop in the future on how to introduce traffic calming measures with the transportation department. No one knows our streets better than we do.
What you can do
For general complaints, please follow this link to find out who to call within TPS: Make the Right Call- Toronto Police Service (tps.ca)
Residents are welcome to make online reports of non-emergency crimes here: https://www.tps.ca/services/online-reporting/
Questions/concerns for Homes First Staff
Local pastor cautioned participants against associating homelessness with safety issues; her church is approached by un-housed residents weekly looking for shelter. We need a holistic approach to this complex issue.
Unresponsive community safety staff at Homes First that does not service surrounding condos where needles are also found
Homes First staff acknowledged that opening a new shelter often results in some opposition and concern. Staff described their intensive crisis supports and Good Neighbour Policy. They have a Community Safety Team picking up dangerous items (e.g. needles) on the property 24 hours per day, seven days per week. For 30-minute response time, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to alert the team to specific dangerous items seen in the nearby community. Homes First staff will follow up with city staff and the safety team to see if the geographical boundaries of the team’s clean-up can be expanded to include more of the surrounding condos and neighbourhood.
How to get involved
Become a community representative on a Community Liaison Committee (click here to apply), advocate, volunteer at a local shelter, assist with an event, become a program facilitator or help with fundraising with Homes First. Contact Ryan Evershed if you are interested: email@example.com
We can help...
If you’re not receiving a response to your safety complaints, please let our office know; we are committed to being the squeakiest wheel and will persistently pursue getting things done.