Violent weekend in Toronto draws attention to missed opportunities to make city safer


August 07, 2019


Hodan Abdullahi Ali (left), mother of Hanad Abdullahi Ali, 16, who was shot fatally on Aug. 1, and Mahad Yusuf (right), a community activist, at a meeting at a Toronto Community Housing complex at 30 Falstaff Ave on Tuesday night. TORONTO STAR


By Jennifer Pagliaro City Hall Bureau, Wendy Gillis Crime Reporter | Toronto Star


Critics and community advocates say the city must move quicker to create safer communities after a long weekend that saw an unusual spike in gun violence across the city.

Despite Mayor John Tory saying Tuesday that the city is doing all it can to address gun violence, some council-approved initiatives have been left unfunded and new proposals to support youth and address root causes have been left on the table.

The spike in gun violence over a 72-hour period this weekend that left 17 people injured in 14 separate incidents comes as the city is experiencing a three-year low when it comes to fatal shootings — there have been 19 this year, compared to 30 by this time last year.

But while experts warn against drawing conclusions from a small amount of data — even just one year compared to another, let alone just a weekend — 17 people injured within a few days is undoubtedly “a pretty big number,” said Wendy Cukier, president of the Coalition for Gun Control and professor at Ryerson University.

“We are lucky that the people doing the shooting were not better shooters, but that should not make us complacent in terms of the problem of the proliferation of firearms,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

“Often, whether someone dies or survives is a millimetre difference in where they are hit.”

Among the initiatives critics say was a missed opportunity to address gun violence was a proposal to double the number of city-run youth hubs — safe, dedicated spaces for youth to hang out, do homework and be mentored — which would have put a number of new hubs in the northwest part of the city where many of this weekend’s shootings occurred.

One location, at the Falstaff Community Centre — which city staff said could have been open by the end of next year, if funded — would be just a two-minute walk from the Toronto Community Housing complex at 30 Falstaff Ave. where 16-year-old Hanad Abdullahi Ali was gunned down Thursday.

Published Date: August 06, 2019

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