Glen Grunwald's Board Blog

Archive of the blog of the former President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Good kids in bad neighbourhoods

There are a lot of expert opinions around about the causes of youth crime and the gun violence in this city. I'm not an expert, but I've been talking to a lot of them over the past year - from the Cheif of Police to social workers, visible minority community leaders, the United Way, etc.

One thing everyone agrees on is that one of the root causes is lack of opportunity.

You can be a good kid with bad luck, born in a neighbourhood where hope and jobs are about as rare as hen's teeth - where there are lots of temptations and few good role models.

Think about this description from an article today in National Post -

A walk around the area yesterday revealed heaps of torn couches and trash piled high outside one housing unit, broken liquor bottles strewn across an abandoned parking lot and huge swathes where there are no street lights.

"There is so much work to do in this area," said Detective Jim Gibson, 43 Division, who pointed out that this area was the former stomping grounds of the Galloway Boys gang. "There's a lot of robberies, it's a high prostitution area, and with the prostitution comes the drugs, and then comes the types of offences that are associated with supporting drug habits -- it's a vicious circle."

Can you imagine growing up in a place like that with no hope of anything better? Can you imagine what you would do, as a young person, for a real chance to get out and up?

Sure, our Board of Trade has the Youth ONE initiative, and the City and many others are doing their part, but nothing is really going to change until we, as Torontonians, make it change.

I think the first step is realizing that the kids growing up in these areas are fellow citizens, just like your kids and mine, with the same hopes and ambitions of doing something with their lives. Not a bunch of gang members or 'youth at risk', but a lot of good kids in bad neighbourhoods who just need to see one door open ... just one, just once ... to maybe change their lives.

The next step is to do something about it - offer a job, support a program, provide an apprenticeship, volunteer, vote, speak out, write to City Hall or Queen's Park. Do anything but sit back and let the waste of human potential and the breeding ground for disaffection, crime and tragedy continue in our city.

When is a voter NOT a voter?

Well, it looks like we'd better stop sniggering about our neighbours to the south having trouble with their voting system. It turns out the voters' list for the City of Toronto could have thousands of people on it who are not Canadian citizens and should not be able to vote.

The City is now trying to verify the citizenship of some 277,000 people!

This close to the municipal election in November, it's posing a potentially big problem. If people don't get verified in time, they will be challenged at the polls and have to sign an oath that they really are citizens and have voting rights. That's going to take extra time and could create congestion at the polling booths, not to mention opening the door to anyone willing to sign a false oath.

It also means that an unknown number of invalid votes have been counted in the past. Makes you wonder about anyone elected in this city by a narrow margin - could invalid votes have changed any election outcomes? I doubt we'll ever know ...

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sudge Monster Warning Reduced to Sludge Monster Watch

Looks as though the City of Toronto has managed to find enough alternative destinations for its sewer sludge to avoid disaster when the current dumping contract with Michigan expires at midnight tonight.

Of course, it's going to cost taxpayers a lot more, not all the paperwork is in place and - worst of all - the fundamental problem has not been addressed ... Toronto still does not have a viable, long-term plan for dealing with its one million plus tonnes of annual waste.

I'm going to leave my previous post up because the arguments and figures are still relevant. We can't keep stumbling from crisis to crisis like this, pulling our chestnuts out of the fire at the last minute.

Of course, that's assuming we actually have a solution this time around and don't have to dump our sludge into Lake Ontario instead.