Toronto Star

Toronto to launch $12M plan to combat community violence

Orignally published on 2022-01-19 17:39:00 by www.thestar.com

On the heels of one of Toronto’s bloodiest years, the city’s 10-year community “safety and well-being plan” will launch with just over $12 million in funding if city council approves.

Mayor John Tory is endorsing the initial plan and $12.05-million budget for the “SafeTO” program laid out in two city staff reports released Wednesday.

The 2022 work plan proposes: the launching of nonpolice crisis teams to respond to mental health calls in a pilot project; developing a “comprehensive multi-sector gun violence reduction plan; strengthening community crisis protocols to give more support to violence victims and communities; and come up with ways to analyze and share real-time data across agencies address Toronto’s violent crime problem.”

The proposals going to Tory’s executive committee next week, which also include the creation of a gun violence prevention office, comes after another pandemic year with more than 80 homicides — one of the highest tallies in recent decades — more than half of them involving guns.

Toronto police told the Star late last year that about one-third of the slayings involved mental health problems, an increase over recent years in outbursts that usually involve family members.

The crisis-team pilot project acknowledges police are not always required or generate the most peaceful outcomes, and follow painful tragedies for Black and Indigenous residents and people of colour in Toronto.

The teams were unanimously approved by city council after growing protests against police brutality, following the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, an Afro-Indigenous woman who died after police were called to her apartment for a mental health crisis in May 2020.

The new decade-long strategy also follows earlier anti-violence efforts that, as the Star reported in 2018, was severely and chronically underfunded, leaving staff with few resources.

Tory, in prepared remarks to reporters, said the new strategy will make a difference.

“Having the entire community work together to prevent crime is a lot better than reacting to it after it has already happened,” the mayor said.

“We all want a safer Toronto. This report makes it clear that this is a top priority and that we are prepared as a city to put the resources and people behind it to make it happen.”

City council will have final say at its February meeting.

With files from Nadine Yousif and Jennifer Pagliaro

David Rider is the Star’s City Hall bureau chief and a reporter covering city hall and municipal politics. Follow him on Twitter: @dmrider

Orignally published on 2022-01-19 17:39:00 by www.thestar.com

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