Church Street violence

Church Street worried about recent spate of violence

The Church-Wellesley Village held a Community Safety Meeting on Thursday in direct response to a growing concern over increasing violence and crime in the neighbourhood.

During the meeting, mini-groups were formed with specific topics for people to comment on. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam was in attendance, and so was Danielle Bottineau, the Toronto Police Service LGBT Liaison Officer.

75 community members, business owners and city representatives gathered to talk about the alleged increase in violent behaviour and shoplifting in the neighbourhood.

"We were hearing concerns from community members about incidents they're seeing and not knowing what to do with them," she says. "Sometimes people in the community don't reach out to the police because they don't feel safe, and sometimes the police are the problem."

Complaints have also surfaced on Facebook about Cannabis Culture at 461 Church Street. Staff from Cannabis Culture were in attendance.

"Establishments such as Cannabis Culture don't understand the nature of our community," Wong-Tam says. "There are going to be transgender people, gender non-conforming people, people that they may not have experience interacting with."

Mark Emery, owner of Cannabis Culture, says he hasn't received any complaints in person although they have had paint thrown on their windows.

He says Cannabis Culture now has security outside the shop seven days a week. They also donate to community organizations and "deal with 1,500 people a day, at least 850 of whom are LGBT," he says.

"I'm doing everything that's possible to [guard the shop] and making it gay friendly with murals inside, but I can't control behaviours beyond that."

Wong-Tam's office hopes to release a work plan for in the next month or so.

Lead photo by

Randy McDonald


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