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Playing it safe

This Thursday's e-blast topic was determined weeks ago – we knew that by today, my team and I would have attended two different meetings about the various ways you and your family can be safer. On Monday afternoon, during Toronto's historic Raptors rally, family safety took on an entirely new meaning.

Over 1 million people gathered in the downtown core last Monday to celebrate the Raptors.

I was standing with my three grandchildren in a space reserved for MLSE guests and City staff, overlooking the crowd of over one million people, when a shooting occurred just south of us. As a mass of people surged towards us to flee the area, I grabbed my grandkids' hands and raced back to my office.

Later, when speaking with my daughter, we realized we didn't have a thorough safety plan for incidents where our family could be separated in a crowd.

Turns out my husband, Sandy, had a plan – hours later, my daughter discovered he had tucked away my phone number into each kid's pocket.

My grandkids consider themselves Raptors superfans, but they got to meet THE Superfan, Nav Bhatia, during the celebrations.

After Monday's events, my family is working together to come up with a concrete safety plan, and I urge you to do the same.

Sadly, we found ourselves in lockdown inside City Hall for long enough that it became impossible to get our supplies – and ourselves – up to Don Valley North in time for our Transit Town Hall. We have re-booked the meeting for Monday, July 8th – see our updated poster below for more detail.

Loaded night

A week ago, we attended two meetings before racing home to watch the Raptors win the NBA Championship. We started at Pineway Public School where traffic and pedestrian safety is top of mind.

Everyone in the surrounding neighbourhood agrees that Pineway Boulevard has become far too popular as a shortcut for drivers, creating a dangerous environment for schoolchildren and pedestrians. The problem is there are differing opinions when it comes improving the situation.

In their meeting with 8 80 Cities, residents expressed their thoughts and concerns about Pineway Blvd.

We brought a community not-for profit organization to meet with the neighbourhood and work with them to pilot traffic-calming solutions. 8 80 Cities is a respected organization with a global reputation. Their philosophy is: "...if everything we do in our public spaces is great for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, then it will be great for all people."

Together, 8 80 and Pineway residents will be designing temporary features to calm traffic that you will see in practice when school resumes this fall.

Theft prevention

After Pineway, I raced over to Bayview Village where Division 33 police officers were discussing crime prevention with residents. The Bayview Village Association decided to host this event because there has been concern among residents about home break-ins and car theft.

There, Officer Lesley Henry reminded me of safety tips I should know but still need to be reminded of. Number one on the list: use your garage for your car!

If you don't use your garage and have a couple of cars coming or going, any decent crook can figure out your schedule and break into your home. He can also quietly slip into your car and drive away even without a key.

Bayview Village resident Melany Moss had her Lexus SUV stolen in March. The neighbourhood association has been alerting residents to car thefts in the area. - Dan Pearce/Torstar

Car thieves use devices that read and mimic your key fob and they can do it right through your front door. Don’t drop your fob on the table right inside the door. The best strategy is to bring it further into your home and place it into something metal, like a coffee can or flower pot.

Protecting your home

It's finally warm out but don’t leave your home with the windows open. Thieves love to work in the daytime – in fact, 70 per cent of home theft occurs between 9 and 11 AM. If no one’s home, they’ll slip around back and find that window you left open after breakfast. Once in the backyard, your neighbour won’t even notice as the thief cuts through the window screen and into your home.

They may not be attractive, but police say these stickers are effective deterrents for potential thieves.

Lots of people have alarm systems these days but most of us don’t want to spoil the curb appeal of our homes with a big ugly alarm company sticker. My advice? Just use the darn sticker. Police officers will tell you these things are actually quite effective deterrents.

A combined effort

Police officers spend a tremendous amount of time on these types of crimes. At the meeting last week, police assured residents they will continue to take home and vehicle thefts very seriously, but they need us to do our part, too.

That means making an effort to eliminate the opportunity for these crimes in the first place. You can check out this link to the Toronto Police Services crime prevention page for more pointers like the ones I outlined here.

If you would like police to bring a similar presentation to your association, condo board or community group, let us know. My team and I are dedicated to making sure your family and your communities feel safe.


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