Mayor Tory promises $6M for youth programs aimed at curbing gun violence

Toronto Mayor John Tory pledged on Monday to spend $6 million on youth programs to help curb rising gun violence in the city.

Tory said he wanted to find ways to make “additional investments” in children and families and to address the root causes of violence when the budget was launched in January.

Since then, Tory said, he has talked to budget chief Gary Crawford and Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson about finding new money and has consulted with community leaders outreach workers, social workers, and police officers.

“All governments need to take action to stop gun violence,” Tory said.

“I am committed to making sure the city of Toronto invests in kids and families and addressing the roots of gun violence, supports our police service and border officials as they work to suppress violence in our communities and stop the flow of illegal guns.”

Tory also said he wants the city to advocate “for changes to Canada’s gun laws, bail guidelines, and sentencing rules for crimes involving gun violence.”

The announcement comes after a shooting on Friday night in a downtown condo building that left three young men dead.

Tory told reporters at Falstaff Community Centre, near Jane Street and Highway 401, that he will support the following measures in this year’s budget:

  • Creation of 10 to 15 new community youth violence prevention grants of up to $200,000 per year for three years at a cost of $2.1 million.
  • Addition of eight new youth hubs in Toronto Public Library branches at a cost of $1.84 million.
  • Addition of six new youth spaces in parks, forestry and recreation facilities at a cost of $1.2 million.
  • Implementation of the Regent Park social development plan to increase community safety and spur economic and community development at a cost of $635,000.
  • Funding of a hospital-based violence intervention program pilot at a cost of $100,000.
  • Expansion of community crisis response grants at a cost of $100,000.

Staff at Falstaff Community Centre talk to Mayor John Tory and other city representatives on Monday. (CBC)

The new investments are in addition to the $18.6 million in funding for measures aimed at reducing poverty and addressing the root causes of violence that are already included in this year’s budget.

Tory said he has meetings with federal government officials in Ottawa later this week to continue his push for more funding of “anti-violence measures” in the hopes of helping young people at risk in the city’s communities.

The final 2020 budget still requires council approval later this month.

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