A community group in Toronto’s Dixon Road neighbourhood is calling for more support and services to deal with the ongoing gun violence in the area.
At a rally in Etobicoke on Thursday morning, Farhia Warsame, the director of the Somali Women and Children Support Network, said the community is frustrated that services are only offered to members of the neighbourhood when there is an immediate crisis and said more programs are needed to help prevent gun violence.
“There (are) a lot of people, other organizations, claiming they offer programs in Dixon, such as mentoring programs, outreach programs, prevention programs and all of that is not happening in this area,” she said.
She called on Michael Coteau, Ontario's minister of Children and Youth Services, to come to the neighbourhood to see how few programs are available and to witness how the violence is impacting the community.
The rally comes on the heels of two deadly shootings in the area over the past week.
Abdulkadir Bihi, a 29-year-old Toronto man, was shot and killed in a vehicle parked outside a Dixon Road apartment building last Thursday. Days later, 16-year-old Zakariye Ali was shot and killed in the parking lot of Kingsview Village Junior School, located in the area of Dixon Road and Islington Avenue.
North Etobicoke Coun. Michael Ford, who represents the area, attended this morning’s demonstration and said he plans to convene a meeting to address the issues facing the neighbourhood.
“I am calling for a meeting with Toronto police, city officials to come together and to really improve the safety in this neighbourhood, not just for the immediate Somali community, but the community as a whole,” Ford said.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Mayor John Tory said violence in the city is “of deep concern” to him.
“I will also say that in discussions I’ve had with the police service, including the chief, there has been a reallocation of police resources to the northwest part of the city,” he said.
“I think this is the subject of constant re-examination of the deployment of police resources and that as we watch what’s going on in those communities, I certainly will be in close touch with the acting police chief about trying to make the city safer, that we keep that part of the city safer and that we try to reduce the number of these kinds of violent incidents that are happening.”