Regent Park credits zero gun deaths in 2023 to investment in social programming
Posted February 2, 2024 5:10 pm.
Last Updated February 2, 2024 8:57 pm.
One Toronto neighbourhood is proof of the transformative impact social investments can have on public safety.
In 2023, Regent Park had zero gun-related deaths which community leaders say is the result of the $2.5 million that has been invested over the last five years through the Regent Park Social Development Plan.
As the budget process continues at City Hall, they’re hoping the mayor will continue to prioritize these investments.
“We need to make sure there’s interventions so that young people are supported not when it’s too late,” said Walied Khogali Ali, co-chair of the social development plan.
He said so far, it’s been a resounding success.
“About $2 million have been allocated so far, with the last half a million being allocated for the 2024 year. And what we’ve been able to do with those investments is make sure there are interventions to support our youth, marginalized members of our community,” said Ali.
Daniels Spectrum is an example of those dollars at work, funding programs and services. Ali said the money is funding not only the space itself but the programs and initiatives run out of the centre including mentorship programs and skills development, critical resources he said to engage youth and give them the tools to succeed.
“In this community, if you have the right resources, we’ve made being good cool. Usually, kids like to be bad to be cool,” said Daniels Spectrum’s Hub Manager, Farid Jalil.
Community leaders are drawing a direct line between zero gun-related deaths in 2023, and the development of these resources, arguing that this model can be replicated across the city.
Mayor Olivia Chow, still in the midst of selling her 2024 budget, agrees.
“It’s a model of how to keep our communities safe that we want to see happening whether it’s in Lawrence Heights, at Jane and Finch, Rexdale, that still have gun violence. That’s why in this budget we invest in a lot of initiatives to build up community.”
She adds they plan to expand the initiative.
“We will take the Regent Park example and have it happen in other parts of the city where there are too many guns and shootings,” said Chow. “There is multi-million dollar investment in our community partners so they can create strong communities and keep everyone safe.”
“The message that I’m trying to convey to members of the public is that such investments should happen across neighbourhoods in the city of Toronto,” added Ali.