Cabbagetown safety walk reveals garbage, grafitti Police ask Cabbagetowners to report noise from TCHC building

Rich Holt –

On May 16, members of the Cabbagetown South Residents’ Association (CSRA) met for a safety walk up Oskenonten Lane. Joining the walk were police officers from 51 Division.

Oskenonten Lane is a major concern to South Cabbagetown residents due to noise pollution, garbage, crime, broken lights and fires in the garbage bins—and in the past few months, there have been break-in attempts in some houses backing onto the lane.

According to CSRA president Don Purvis, the purpose of the safety walk was to give people an opportunity to talk to the police about issues in the laneway where they feel there are problems and unsafe activities.

“We hope to get the neighbours more aware of their surroundings and communicate their issues and their concerns,” Purvis explains. “We’re hoping for better security in the area. We find that if the laneway looks like a crime scene then more criminal activities are likely to happen. There’s been a lot of problems with illegal dumping and garbage and it looks uninviting, so we’re trying to improve the appearance and make people more comfortable in the laneway.”

Cabbagetown resident Susan Dineen talked about her goals for the walk.

“We would like to highlight ways we can focus on safety in the community, ask the police what they suggest to improve safety in the houses and the backyards.

“We are working very closely with the Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC) on issues relating to the Dan Harrison building such as cleaning up the garbage, improving lighting, improving video surveillance, and getting regular security patrols in the lane and around the building.”

The Harrison complex on Sherbourne St. backs onto Oskenonten Lane. It is community housing managed by the TCHC.

The walk along Oskenonten Lane started at Dundas St. and went north.

It was noted there were storage areas filled with garbage, graffiti on the walls, and garbage in the lane.

Some residents complained the lane is not safe even in the daytime as there have been people there with knives.

They also talked of the noise from the Harrison building. Dineen complained of people blasting their music day and night, day after day and asked the police what could be done.

“Call us,” said Police Constable Kris Bohonis from 51 Division. “Nobody is allowed to disturb anyone. There are curfews. Your calls will be logged, how many times we go in there, and people can be fined. If you get the TCHC on board they might be prepared to move people. You might not be able to determine where the music is coming from, but we can gain access to the building and investigate.”

The walk was a good example of community working with police to solve problems in the neighbourhood. Positive steps were taken to help reduce crime along the lane.

Adds Purvis, “With all the people looking out onto the laneway, if people could get involved in the neighbourhood watch and report things they see in the laneway it would be a big help.”