TC Talks: Community Safety and Well-being

This Spring, I started hosting a monthly forum series called TC Talks. Every month, I choose a hot topic to discuss in a round table setting. In April we discussed Rental Demolition and Replacement and in May we discussed Community Safety and Well-being.

We had a great turn out with about 50 attendants online. I was joined by Scott Mckean, Manager with SafeTO, Sergeant Henry Dyck with Toronto Police Services 51 Division and Ryan Faccciolo, Supervisor with Bylaw enforcement for public spaces.

We started off the night with a presentation on the current work and initiatives related to community safety, as well as a recap of the results from our Safe and Inclusive Neighbourhoods Survey that I launched last year. The survey was based off the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area’s own survey that they have been conducting for a number of years. The survey was an insightful look into perceptions of safety in Toronto Centre, experiences with crime and reporting, knowledge of safety programs and challenges contributing to community safety. Some of the key takeaways from the survey include:

  • Residents value access to public parks;
  • Pedestrian safety as it pertains to scooters and bikes on sidewalks; and
  • More housing, mental health and addictions services are needed.

We also talked about how the City is limited in fully addressing the issues that contribute to community safety and how we need the Provincial and Federal governments to do their part in addressing the root causes of homelessness, addiction and mental health. 

I discussed my work as Chair of the Board of Health and the new “Our Health, Our City: A Mental Health, Substance Use, Harm Reduction & Treatment Strategy for Toronto.” The strategy includes seven strategic goals:

  1. Promoting mental health and wellbeing across an individual’s lifespan;
  2. Preventing and reducing the harms and deaths related to substance use across an individual’s lifespan;
  3. Expanding access to the full continuum of high-quality, evidence-based and client-centered services to address mental health and/or substance use issues, including harm reduction and treatment supports;
  4. Advancing community safety and wellbeing for everyone;
  5. Improving access to housing and other social determinants of health;
  6. Supporting mentally healthy workplaces and optimizing the mental health of workers; and
  7. Proactively identifying and responding to emerging mental health and substance use issues.

For more information on the strategy and related programs check out the report on the City’s website

Scott Mckean spoke about the City’s Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. Adopted by City Council in 2022, the plan aims to advance community safety by working collaboratively across sectors, communities and governments. For a list of SafeTO goals and priority actions, please see this resource.

Sergeant Dyck talked about the major crime indicators and trends in our ward as well as the changing federal regulations surrounding drug laws and how they have affected community policing on the ground. He also informed us of ways community members can get involved with keeping our communities safe. 51 Division Neighbourhood Community Officers (NCO) hold quarterly meetings in the community for each of our neighbourhoods in Ward 13. In these meetings, they go over major incidents as well as year-to-date crime statistics. My office attends these NCO meetings as well. To stay updated on your NCO’s meeting schedule, please visit their Facebook page

Lastly, Ryan Facciolo spoke on how public spaces in the downtown east require a lot of special attention due to their unique challenges. He shared that it is important that we all do our part in reporting issues in public spaces to 311, even if you don’t see immediate action. Toronto-Centre has one of the lowest reporting rates in the City, and that can make it challenging to property dedicate resources to our area compared to areas that are receiving a high number of complaints. 

I want to thank everyone who came out to listen and speak to this critical issue in our neighbourhoods. I know this will not be the last time I hear from you about community safety concerns, and I look forward to providing future updates.

 

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