An Open Letter to Mayor John Tory


Mayor John Tory                                                                                                  August 11, 2016

City of Toronto

100 Queen Street West

Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N2

cc. Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell,  Community Police Response Team Staff Sgt Henry Dyck, Officer Scott Hodgson, Officer Julie Rice, The Honourable Bill Morneau, The Honourable Glen Murray, Chris Moise

Dear Mayor Tory,

We are the Board of Cabbagetown South Residents Association representing 750 family households in the area bounded by Parliament Street and Sherbourne Street, and Carlton Street to Shuter Street.

We are a neighbourhood that desperately needs your intervention.

Over the last year, our neighbourhood has gone from a 'reasonably' safe walkable neighbourhood to a community facing very serious issues:

· arson

· unprovoked assaults

· drug dealing·

· break and enters·

· malicious property damage

· rampant drug and alcohol use on school property, parks, streets, laneways

· sexual activity in our parks and playgrounds

· street prostitution

· violent confrontations

· illegal dumping

· individuals with severe mental health issues

· poorly managed and secured social housing and rooming houses..

The police from 51 Division have been very helpful in addressing these issues but it will take significant political will to fix this. We need your help Mayor Tory. Without the political assistance from the city the problems will continue to escalate.

We need your help in addressing the topic of what a healthy and balanced neighbourhood should look like. For example, the continuous stacking of all the social services in the downtown east neighbourhoods is problematic and places a huge amount of strain on the communities. Our community is now overwhelmed by the sheer number of homeless, under housed, mentally ill, drug addled, dispossessed, frightened, angry and volatile people, pushed here by City policies. The City needs to stop looking for synergies and look instead to the healthy integration of people, not isolating them and whole neighbourhoods.

We need your help to create a safe community. For example, July 6, 2016 a homeless couple doused the playground equipment at Ontario Park with an accelerant and tossed sparklers to ignite the flames. We have not heard if they were ever caught and the Parks and Rec department won’t say when it will be fixed. We worked hard to keep this park clean and safe and it was enjoyed by several young families. Now the park sits empty and abandoned during the day and a hot spot for unwanted activity at night. A summer without a playground is an eternity for a 3, 4 or 5 year old.

Violence is also plaguing our streets. A few weeks ago one of our community members was viciously attacked while sweeping his laneway and is now awaiting his second surgery to see if the sight in that eye can be saved. There was also an incident where a man walking his dogs in a laneway was assaulted because someone objected to dogs.

The laneways in our community are dangerous and have become a passageway for criminal behaviour.

We have tried to take ownership of the laneways by creating green spaces with gardens to discourage illegal dumping and unwanted activity. Yet, prostitutes go there to engage in sex with johns, street alcoholics drink and urinate, drug addicts use them as places to inject drugs and then dump the needles. The homeless sleep and defecate and the mentally ill behave erratically. The lanes are used as illegal dumping grounds. The surfaces are crumbling, unsafe to drive, bike or walk along. Area residents have been spat on, threatened and verbally abused and physically assaulted. What is also very upsetting is that several residents who planted gardens to try to take back their lanes, are now afraid to work in those same spaces. The lack of safety in the lanes is also very troubling because a number of the families in the area either use the laneways to access the back of their residences or to get to school. Children should be safe in our community and not subjected to having to witness acts of prostitution, violence or drug abuse.

We also have rooming houses operated by known problem landlords that continue to be a source of drug dealing, drug dens, disruptive behaviour and unsafe living conditions. No efforts from the City so far have worked. We also have buildings that house people who openly sell drugs in front of school children on their recess and the yet the city cannot go after landlords of these buildings?

Like Toronto Community Housing elsewhere in the city, area buildings (Dan Harrison Complex) need major repair and support staff for their tenants. Certain buildings are a dumping ground for mentally ill, dealers, drug dens and other criminal activity. This is not acceptable and has created unsafe and unhealthy living conditions for law-abiding neighbours and tenants.

We need your help in developing a strategy that deals with the concentration of homeless shelter beds in large warehouse like facilities. These facilities overwhelm staff and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

We need your help in creating mixed neighbourhoods with smaller evenly distributed hostels with supportive housing and support programs that give clients needed direction and assistance.

We would like to invite you to join our Community Police Team in a walk about/drive about through our neighbourhood to see first hand the sheer number of issues facing our neighbourhood.

The residents of our community need your help.

Yours truly,

Jeff Lookkong, President Don Purvis, Vice President

Murray Bevin, Susan Dineen, Tanya English, Diana Flynn, Michael Laidlaw, Karen Marren, Michael Portnoy

The Board,

Cabbagetown South Residents’ Association

info@cabbagetownsouth.ca


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