Police presence and social programming could help address crime in an east London neighbourhood where there have been multiple cases of violence in recent months, according to a 23-year-old mother who lives in the area.
The woman didn’t want to be identified by name but told 980 CFPL she could hear an argument and gunshots early Sunday morning because the balcony of her housing co-op apartment overlooks the Marconi Boulevard parking lot where a shooting was reported.
“I usually leave my screen door open … I could hear people yelling and fighting. But that’s not really uncommon for over here. It backs right up to my door. Not wanting to interrupt my video game, I just shut my door.”
Police were called to the public housing complex on Marconi Boulevard, near Noel Avenue, around 3:50 a.m. Sunday to reports of a shooting. One man was taken to hospital with a non-life-threatening gunshot wound, and police have put out an arrest warrant for 28-year-old Jason Richard Borden, of London, who faces multiple charges in the case.
The woman explained that she’s been desensitized to the fighting that goes on in the area “almost daily.” But had she realized there were weapons involved Sunday, she would have called police immediately.
“Nothing against the police department, but I’ve lived here for almost two years now and the only time I ever see police officers over here is when something like that happens,” she explained.
The parking lot, and a dumpster that was overturned by police in an effort find evidence Sunday, has become a venue for drug deals she said. If police officers were to patrol the area, she’s sure they could charge someone daily.
In early October, a police officer fired a weapon at a vehicle during an interaction with a man. In March, police investigated a shooting that damaged the front door of a unit in the same complex. In both of those cases, there were no reported injuries.
“I feel like if they had at least a minimal police presence around here, they’d be able to catch it quick if there was an incident or at least be able to deter them,” said the woman.
She also suggested social programming for both kids and adults in the neighbourhood. It could “educate them about where they live,” and might distract from the crime that’s going on in their backyard.
“It’s upsetting. I don’t want to raise my kids here.”
The woman feels like representatives of the London Middlesex Housing Corporation (LMHC), who operate the public housing complex where the shooting happened Sunday, are turning a blind eye.
“They never come here really. They have maintenance people that work for them here, but … a lot of housing representatives haven’t seen their neighbourhoods that they manage. They never come and set foot here, they just manage it from their desk.”
Josh Browne, the CEO of the LMHC said the public housing agency is working to make subsidized housing communities safer.
“We had put together a business request through to the city last year that got supported, to actually do a lighting upgrade or redesign on all of our sites. That work was well underway before this incident happened, and we’ll roll it out in 2019,” he told 980 CFPL.
The woman suggested that representatives of the corporation visit the communities, have meetings, and ask tenants what they think should be done to improve safety. Brown told 980 CFPL that’s something they intend to do.
“[Tenants] absolutely have to be part of the solution. It’s not just us coming in and putting new lighting, or cameras, it’s actually coming together as a community and trying to look at this whole notion of safety and what it means to build better communities,” said Browne.
But for now, the woman doesn’t feel optimistic.
“The people that live here are kind of on their own,” she said.
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