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GTA mayors, police chiefs meet to discuss gun violence

Last Updated Jan 28, 2020 at 12:21 pm EST

Toronto Mayor John Tory speaks at a multi-jurisdictional summit to discuss gun violence in the GTA on Jan. 28, 2020. L-R: Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Toronto Mayor John Tory, MP Joel Lightbound and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. CITYNEWS/Cristina Howorun

Of the 78 homicides in Toronto in 2019, 44 of them were gun related. That’s not counting the hundreds of others who were injured over the year.

With this in mind, Mayor John Tory sat down with mayors and police chiefs from across the GTA along with Ontario’s Solicitor General, as well as representatives from other levels of government, on Tuesday at a regional meeting on gun violence.

Speaking to the press following the meeting, Tory said the problem cannot be tackled alone and more partners need to get involved.

“We need through legal changes, funding and other means” help from all levels of government to combat gun violence, he said.

Tory added that the meeting did not focus on a hand gun ban as a means to reduce gun violence, but rather how to better control weapons coming in from across the border. Tory said 80 per cent of the guns used in the GTA come from outside Canadian borders and police need to work better with border agencies to stem the tide.

The discussion also included improvements to the bail system.

“There are dozens of people being arrested on gun charges, getting bail and being rearrested on gun charges,” said Tory, adding “the system is not working.”

The summit looked at better use of electronic monitoring bracelets for people out on bail as a possible solution. Tory also said they need to evaluate strategies like gang exit programs and strengthen the ones that work.

Ontario’s Solicitor General Sylvia Jones added that there will be continual pressure on the federal government to change the criminal code as it pertains to gun-related crimes and bail.

Last year’s spike in gun violence prompted Toronto police to launch a 15-week program called Project Community Space — with the specific focus of reducing gun violence across the city.

The project, which was funded by all three levels of government, helped police solve several gun-related crimes and was overall seen by officials as a “success.”

However, gun violence has by no means been fully curbed in the city.

Less then a month into 2020, Toronto has already seen four people killed by gunfire.

Combating gun violence has been a top priority for both Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Tory.