Monday, July 19, 2010

Exterminate the Brutes

A city councillor distressed by more complaints about gang activity is trying again to get a controversial downtown intersection shut down for good.

Ward 4 Coun. Stephen Orser has applied for formal delegation status at Monday’s environment and transportation committee (ETC) meeting to plead his case that a troubled intersection at Dundas and Richmond either be closed or gated.

Orser said he was prompted to act by yet another complaint from a fearful business owner of the neighbourhood, at Dundas and Richmond steets.

“He was terrified. A group of young thugs were kicking at his door and standing around the entrance,” Orser said. “He didn’t want to call police because he was fearful of repercussions.”

Orser said he called police, who arrived quickly.

He tried last year to have the intersection shut down after drug dealers were observed peddling their goods openly in the city core.

Only cosmetic changes, such as removing graffiti, have been completed, Orser charged.

“It’s like spraying perfume on a pig. It is still a pig,” he said.

Orser called on the city to spend the rest to put in higher fences and safer lighting and consider putting locked gates that businesses can shut at night and re-open in daytime.

Or better yet, Orser said, just shut the downtown down.

City staff plan to install new metal trees next, with the help of a consultant’s design. Transportation design engineer Karl Grabowski says in a letter to Orser, that’s part of the ETC agenda.

Police think the erection of more metal trees downtown and new lighting will deter people from loitering, Grabowski says.