Council Approves New Youth Space in Oakwood-Vaughan Neighbourhood
Community Hub will focus on providing opportunities and support for vulnerable young people
City Council took a step toward addressing the roots of youth violence in the Oakwood & Vaughan neighbourhood by approving a new space to support vulnerable youth in the community. The program will offer supports including mental health referrals, employment training, and mentoring while offering opportunities for growth through the arts, technology, sports, and more.
“Community organizations and experts have been telling us for years that providing safe, supportive environments for at-risk youth is one of the best ways to meaningfully curb gang violence, change lives and create safer communities,” said Josh Matlow, Councillor for Toronto- St.Paul’s. “I look forward to seeing a space in the Oakwood- Vaughan community where local youth are provided with the supports they need and the opportunities to reach their full potential.”
While we need to support the police to respond when violent incidents occur and ensure that those responsible are no longer a threat to our community, enforcement alone is a short-term and reactive response that doesn’t address deeper issues that lead to the violence in the first place. Supporting our youth is the best way to enhance community safety.
“As Nia Centre builds Canada’s first Black arts centre, located in Oakwood Village, we know all too well the need for safe facilities that contribute to the holistic development of young people. We are encouraged by the City’s swift action to make investments that will create youth spaces in Oakwood Village,” said Alicia Hall, Executive Director of NIA Centre for the Arts.
According to a City of Toronto survey conducted with local youth, the only community spaces available to gather and socialize are outside of the community, with the exception of the Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre, which welcomes youth, but has limited space due to demand. This is both problematic and troublesome given that the community has residents living with lower incomes, lower education attainment rates, and a higher percentage of Black and racialized residents than the City average.
“The activation of community space for youth in the Oakwood Vaughan area is an investment in our youth through engagement and in community relationship building that will benefit the Oakwood Vaughan Community now and into the future,” said Jeff Peters, Chair of Oakwood Village BIA
The activation of this community space for youth has the possibility to address Provinces Roots of Violence Review’s recommendation to create “community hubs, wherever possible anchored in school facilities” as a strategy of dealing with violence in communities by providing locations for socialization and community connection. Having spaces available with appropriate programs has proven to lead to outcomes that include reduced contact with law enforcement.