December 6th, 2019
As your new City Councillor, there is nothing more important to me than the safety of our community. The repeated acts of violence committed over many years in our Oakwood-Vaughan neighbourhood is extremely upsetting and unacceptable. The fear and vulnerability residents in our community, and across our city, feel as a result of gun violence must be addressed. I am writing to provide you an update on the actions we are taking together to support our neighbourhood.
To address problem drinking establishments in our community, where much of the recent violence has occurred, I moved a motion at City Council to develop and implement a cross-jurisdictional action plan, which would unite and strengthen the abilities of the Toronto Police Service, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the City’s Municipal Licensing and Standards division, Toronto Building and Toronto Fire Services to respond, manage and resolve the negative community impacts created by some bars in our community. Earlier this week, City Staff reported to Committee with a progress report on my motion and advised that a cross-jurisdictional action plan will be implemented in the Spring of next year. While most of the decision-making power regarding the licensing of these establishments is of the City’s jurisdiction, I will continue to advocate with you for the province to address these establishments.
A few weeks ago, I hosted a community meeting to discuss how we can work together to help prevent acts of violence in our community. The meeting provided residents with an opportunity to connect with their neighbours, representatives from all levels of government, the Toronto Police Service, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, City Staff from several Divisions and local community service agencies.
Those in attendance stated that the most important initiative we can take is to invest in addressing the roots causes of the violence. While we need to address problem drinking establishments and support the police to respond when gun violence occurs 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. That’s why I’m currently working with City Staff from Social Development to complete a needs assessment in our neighbourhood and establish a community space for at-risk youth in the Oakwood-Vaughan area.
Many of our neighbours at the meeting also expressed the need to beautify, improve and most importantly, revitalize the streetscape along Oakwood Avenue and Vaughan Road through adding more lighting, improving building facades, installing planters, and more. Evidence from other communities in Toronto and elsewhere demonstrate that local investments to improve neighbourhoods can lead to a reduction in violence. I will continue to work with the Oakwood Village and York-Eglinton BIAs, as well as Oakwood Vaughan’s Neighbourhood Action Partnership (OVNAP) and local residents, to make these necessary streetscape upgrades, as well as playground and garden enhancements, in order to ensure our streets are more vibrant and improve our quality of life.
I’m arranging a forum with the same City and Provincial officials, along with local elected representatives, who attended our community meeting to review the feedback received from those that attended, and participated in our online survey. I will share an update to those on my Oakwood-Vaughan Community Development and Safety email list. If you have not already requested to be added to this list, I welcome you to email me directly.
If you have any information regarding a criminal matter, please report it directly to the police. You can do so online at: www.torontopolice.on.ca/core or my telephone at 416-808-2222. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at: www.222tips.com
We will continue to work together to improve our quality of life and ensure that our neighbourhood is a safe and vibrant place to live. There is nothing more important.
Councillor Josh Matlow
Toronto – St. Paul’s