<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Thursday, June 03, 2004
Safety and Security

When I went out for lunch yesterday, four cars were blocking all traffic from entering the York Common. Buses were lined up on the street, empty, as students waited in lines by York Lanes. As I walked, another police car drove up and added to the blockade.

Another police car was slowly driving (the wrong way) around the Common road itself, calmly diverting the questions of students who wanted to know why they couldn’t get near the buses. As I watched, two York security people in full uniform came down the sidewalk, talking into walkie-talkies.

No one knew what was going on—except, of course, for the police, and they weren’t talking. By the time I went back to the office, things were back to normal.

In an unrelated (at least I assume it's unrelated) story, which I discovered this morning while checking the weather online, two men were shot in a café right by the Jane/Finch corner. For those who aren't local: York occupies the block between Jane and Finch, Keele and Steeles. Once again, too damn close for comfort. But by that time, I was likely walking down my quiet residential street towards my apartment.

A while ago, back when I was still living in residence, I said in one journal entry that I most certainly did not want to live anywhere near York University, no matter how convenient it seemed. The Jane/Finch corridor is entirely too dangerous for my liking.

A few months later I received a rather angry email from a gentleman who informed me that he had lived in the area for about twenty years, if I recall correctly, and had never had any problems. His neighbours were very excellent people, too, he wanted to let me know. Which is lovely, and I'm sure he was being honest with me.

For a while I was planning on writing a rather long and involved reply to his email. But it arrived during an exam period and really, education had to take precedence over ranting. In the end, all I really wanted to say to him could be summed up in one sentence: Sir, you quite obviously are not a girl in her early twenties. (And considering the then-recent activity regarding the rapist on campus and then the murder just off it--all involving young women, of course--I think that my point was relevant, though somewhat obvious.)

While I could understand his displeasure at my public rejection of the area of the city in which he lives, his angry email did not change my mind. No, not even a little. And here's the difference: where I live, I feel safe. I am not scared to walk home alone after dark. (The most frightening thing that's happened to me after dark was that I almost walked into one of the local raccoons before either of us noticed the other's presence. After a moment of staring, I elected to walk around the cars onto the other side of the street while it chose to backtrack and continue walking on lawns. Oooh, scary.) The only community police alert that I've received about the area since moving in last September has been a warning that there have been pickpockets in the fancy shops in Bloor West Village.

Here, two men were just shot, one critically. That's the difference.

(And suddenly, my hour-long bus commute does not seem particularly inconvenient.)

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 12:41 PM


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