The city is increasing the overnight police presence in Yonge-Dundas Square and several other “hotspots” as part of a wider effort to respond to “ongoing community concerns” in the eastern part of the downtown core, Mayor John Tory says.
In a news release issued on Wednesday morning, Tory outlined 10 initiatives that the city is taking in response to concerns from residents near “hotspot neighbourhoods like Yonge-Dundas, Sherbourne and Dundas, Cabbagetown, St. Jamestown and Regent Park.
One of the initiatives involves a Toronto police plan to assign one additional detective and three additional uniformed officers to the downtown east neighbourhood during the overnight hours this summer.
The moves comes amid a rash of gun violence, including the fatal shooting of an 19-year-old man in Yonge-Dundas Square last week.
“Toronto is a safe city and a clean city but that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems we need to address,” Tory said in the press release. “It is my job as mayor to bring everyone at city hall and local stakeholders together to come up with a plan to work quickly and fix these problems.”
The 10-step plan announced on Wednesday comes in the wake of several meetings involving city staff, police and various stakeholders, including representatives from Ryerson University and the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area.
The plan includes a commitment for increased outreach to the homeless by Toronto Public Health and Streets to Homes staff, as well as the hiring of six park ambassadors that would work alongside outreach workers in offering services and supports to homeless individuals.
The plan also calls for an increase in the frequency of cleaning in laneways and parks in the eastern part of the downtown.
“This is a vibrant neighbourhood where families live but it is also an area with large vulnerable populations and a concentration of social services. We must ensure proper resources are in place to deal with the needs of this diverse and growing population,” Ward 27 Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam said in the press release. “While these are immediate actions to address the situation at hand, we will also be working together on a year-long plan to address the situation permanently.”
According to a spokesperson for the mayor's office, the initiatives will be paid for through exisiting budgets for 2018.
The full list of initiatives, which the city says that it began rolling out over the weekend, is as follows:
- Parks staff will clean City parks more frequently with specific hotspots being cleaned twice weekly.
- Parks staff will increase access to City washrooms and shower facilities during operating hours at two community centres and parks in the area.
- Six Park Ambassadors will work with Streets to Homes to engage with homeless individuals to offer services and supports.
- Toronto Police will be providing increased services on weekends in the summer months. One detective and three uniformed officers will be deployed for the night shift focusing on hotspots that includes Yonge-Dundas Square
- Streets to Homes staff are working with Public Health and Transportation Services to engage homeless individuals in public squares, public space and public right-of-way to offer services and supports including shelter and housing.
- Public Health is conducting outreach for two hours a day covering a four-block radius around The Works and, in the short term, is hiring 2 temporary outreach workers to enhance this outreach and expand the outreach area.
- Solid Waste will deliver bi-weekly cleaning of laneways as well as twice daily cleaning in hotspots in the Downtown East area. City staff will provide 24-hour response time for on-demand service in all laneways.
- Solid Waste has increased waste collection and disposal facilities in five hotspot area parks with additional bins and daily collection.
- Litter operations at Yonge-Dundas Square will be enhanced to increase collection service of street litter bins from twice per day to three times a day.
- The Community Crisis Response Program is working in partnership with community members, agencies, and internal City divisions to enhance community safety.