Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown stands by his statement that Toronto gang activity is “spilling over” into Peel Region — a sentiment his Toronto counterpart calls “not very constructive.”
Brown tweeted Monday, in response to a shooting on Highway 410 that left one man dead and another injured: “I am sick & tired of 416 gang activity spilling over into Peel Region. We still have not received any of the gun & gang funding that Toronto & Ottawa receive.
“This is yet another reminder that gang activity doesn’t respect postal codes.”
Brown said in an interview Tuesday he was tweeting out of frustration that his community is still waiting for federal funds, via the provincial government, to combat gangs and guns. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, in an interview Tuesday, expressed similar frustration following a mass “targeted” shooting in her city Sunday that killed 17-year-old bystander Jonathan Davis and injured five others.
“Last year when the (anti) gang and gun funding was announced, the latest iteration of it, it was for Toronto specifically, it wasn’t actually for Peel police or Durham,” Brown said. “You can imagine how frustrating that is, where there is funding, resources, tools available to fight gang activity in Etobicoke, but a few kilometres away in Brampton or Mississauga, those same resources wouldn’t be available.”
Asked if he has any information that either of the Peel Region shootings are connected to Toronto gang members, Brown noted he sits on the regional police services board and can’t discuss operational issues. He did say that 60 per cent of Brampton’s shootings this year are gang related and “many of these gangs identify themselves (with) Toronto community-based names — but we’re certainly aware that their membership is dispersed throughout the GTA, including Brampton and Mississauga.”
Peel police said Tuesday they have no evidence the Mississauga shooting — on Darcel Ave. in Malton and apparently linked to an earlier-recorded rap video — is connected to Toronto, but continue to investigate.
Asked Tuesday about Brown’s tweet, Toronto Mayor John Tory said he understands the frustration and supports other communities getting funds to fight gun crime. But blaming Toronto for gang activity in neighbouring municipalities isn’t helpful, he said.
“I think that kind of talk about sort of, you know, where this all arises from, or sort of who’s to blame, is not very constructive,” Tory told reporters in Nathan Phillips Square after an unrelated event.
“These are tragedies that affect families and neighbourhoods … It is a regional problem and it will require a regional solution in the sense that all the governments work together.”
Funding pledged to Toronto has included $4.5 million, shared equally among the federal, provincial and city governments, to help local police deal with a summer-long spike in shootings.
Brown told the Star that he and Tory spoke about the issue Monday night and are on the same page.
“I appreciate the collaborative approach he’s taking,” Brown said.
Crombie said Peel police are focusing on getting illegal guns off the streets, and having some success.
But as bullets fly, money needs to flow, she said. Applications won’t open until next year for programs tapping $65 million committed by senior governments over five years to fund initiatives directly related to gun violence and gang activities — including $54 million in federal money to come via the Ontario government — Crombie said. “We need that money to flow now,” she said.
After Sunday’s shooting, Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones issued a statement saying her government is working “urgently” with police and lawyers “to stop gun violence from shattering more lives.”
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Jones wrote that money is coming to fund an “intensive firearm bail team” aimed at preventing repeat gun offenders from quickly getting temporary release. She also promised that a guns and gangs fund will support projects with police and justice partners in Peel region and across the GTA.
In June Bill Blair, the federal minister in charge of border security and organized crime, told a parliamentary committee that Premier Doug Ford’s government had tapped, at that point, only 17 per cent of the $65 million earmarked for Ontario efforts to fight guns and gangs, part of a $214-million five-year national fund.