On Sunday I was distressed to learn about a fire at the Ontario Street Parkette in Cabbagetown South. Unfortunately, the fire damage was extensive, and the entire playground has been destroyed. As a parent standing in front of the scorched equipment on Monday, the situation was painful to assess in person.
As some of you will remember, this isn’t the first time the local parkette has been vandalized this way. As the new Councillor who assumed responsibility of this neighbourhood in 2018 after the ward boundaries expanded, I am informed that on two prior occasions, police and firefighters responded to a similar call about a fire at the same playground, the last time being early 2016.
Understandably, this is very upsetting for everyone. Upon hearing the news about the fire, I immediately contacted our Parks, Forestry & Recreation (PFR) staff to make sure all measures are taken to secure the site and make safe the current condition. It is my intention to replace the playground equipment and repair all damage as soon as possible.
Senior PFR staff have confirmed that the incident was reported to the City of Toronto’s insurance provider on Monday morning and that they have attended the parkette to assess the damage. The insurance provider will provide PFR staff with the cost and timeline for replacement. It is their contractual responsibility to manage the equipment replacement process and should they require additional information such as contractor referrals, the City will move quickly to ensure our insurance provider has everything they need to carry out their work.
I inquired about the possibility of installing temporary equipment at this location. But I was advised that the construction contractor will need continuous access to the site for the removal of the damaged equipment and installation of the new equipment, so this is not a feasible option. The site has now been fenced and secured by PFR staff. My staff and I will update you as more information becomes available.
I am in regular contact with the Toronto Police Service and in particular our local officers from 51 Division. There has been an increase in incidents of vandalism and violence in the neighbourhood and have been assured that Toronto Police are doing everything in their power to keep our communities safe. I will continue to work with service providers and the Toronto Police to ensure that people exhibiting at-risk behaviour are referred to necessary services and others engaged in criminal activity are dealt with appropriately.
As always, Toronto Police can not do their job without our help. We are told that reporting incidents of concern are critical to data collection and enhanced service allocations. If you or someone else is confronted with life-threatening danger, please call 911 immediately. Alternatively, the Toronto Police request that online reports be submitted at torontopolice.on.ca/core and to torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaints.
If you see someone homeless and in need of support you can call Streets to Homes at (416) 338-4766. The Gerstein Crisis Centre is a valuable 24-hours a day, 7 days a week service in our community and they have crisis workers on standby at (416) 929-5200. More resources including additional How to Report information are available on my website, please visit kristynwongtam.ca/howtoreport.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. Should you wish to communicate with me directly, I would be happy to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please take care of yourself and your family.
It is an honour to serve you.