$8 million from Ottawa will help fight gun, gang crime in Mississauga and Brampton: Mayors


Published February 10, 2023 at 3:41 pm

Mississauga and Brampton mayors say $8.1 million received today (Feb. 10) from Ottawa will go a long way toward nipping gun crime and gang violence in the bud in their two cities.

Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of public safety, delivered news of the cash investment at a press conference this afternoon at Churchill Meadows Community Centre and Mattamy Sports Park in the city’s west end.

The sports facility, which was brimming with youngsters playing soccer as local and federal politicians nearby spoke about growing gun and gang crime and how to fight it, was a fitting backdrop as the money is targeted for Peel youth programs and services that, ideally, will keep at-risk kids on the right track and away from crime.

The location of the announcement also came in a part of Mississauga that was plagued by gun violence in 2022.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie told those in attendance that the funding announcement is significant as it seeks to address the root causes of gun crime in Peel before it occurs.

“In Mississauga, we’ve unfortunately witnessed too many violent incidents this (past) year that involve young people and that could have been prevented,” she said. “This funding will help local organizations do critical work to prevent crime before it happens…it will have a great impact on at-risk youth in Mississauga and help set them up for success.

“Our residents deserve to feel safe in their community.”

The money, to come from the federal government’s Building Safer Communities Fund introduced last year, will do its part to fight gun and gang crime/violence on the front end, before it starts, Mendicino explained.

Growth in such crimes in Mississauga, Brampton and across the country in recent years simply puts too much stress on front-line police officers and the 911 emergency call system, he noted.

“If we just rely on the blunt force of the law…we won’t be able to solve this,” the minister of public safety said, adding that Peel has seen a 75 per cent increase in number of 911 calls in the last five years.

“Gun crime has been on the rise and is profoundly concerning to me…we have to stop gun crime (and gang violence) before it starts. Money must go to programs to help prevent the crime so police aren’t needed later.”

Mendicino said the best strategy is to offer ample community programs and services so it helps “set up young people for success in life.”

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said the funding announcement is a good example of “upstream policing,” which refers to the creation of a community in which people are supported and provided opportunities to grow and thrive.

He noted the addition to Peel Regional Police ranks this coming year of 70 new police officers is important, “…but we also need to focus on upstream policing.

“Even with 70 new officers, (Peel police) can’t get to all 911 calls that come in…we can’t go with the same old approach; we need innovative new approaches like this.”

Brampton’s mayor wondered aloud how a young person becomes vulnerable enough that they get involved in gangs, with guns and in organized crime.

“This announcement today is a pushback against that,” as it helps young people go in the right direction, he said.

Mississauga saw 15 murders within its borders in 2022, more than in all of Peel in 2021. In Mississauga and Brampton combined, Peel Regional Police investigated or are investigating 29 homicides that took place last year.

In 2021 across Peel, there were 14 murders and in 2020 there were 18 slayings in the two cities combined.

In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions on public gatherings taking hold, there were 31 murders in both cities combined.

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