I recently moved to the Centre of The Universe, for those of you in Toronto, that's where you live, people else where in the country know I'm talking about Toronto. I live on the edge of a community called Jamestown. Its a poor neighbourhood, one that is a couple of blocks from fashionable Bloor Street. I'm in no man's land. Living west of Jamestown, east of The Village, south of Rosedale and north of Cabbagetown, its in the middle.
Our friends here in the Centre of Everything, told us not to move any further east. We took them at their word and live on the precipice of the dark dark hole. During the day this is usually a calm, cool fun neighbourhood. The streets lend credence to Toronto's claim as the world's most diverse and multi-cultural city.
We have two schools, two little parkettes, two small playgrounds, a basketball court and one 24 hour variety store. We have a No Frills grocery store, what other store would be here except one that reflects the amenities for those living in the area.
Few people have a car, your likely to encounter in a block's walk three or four strollers laden with toddlers and or those no frill groceries, bicycle riding youth and older guys too. Older folks pushing those shopping carts, people in suits, jeans, shorts, skirts and hajabs.
You can smell the drug deals, you see the users on early morning walks, you learn where not to sit and read your paper, thus minimizing your exposure to requests for cigarettes, even though I'm not smoking any these days. Taxi's line the street outside our building, a steady stream coming through as people return from late nights, usually a little boisterous but not too bad.
What's really interesting is that this area is a neighbourhood of immigrants, even me allbeit I am from the same country, you still get a little eastern way of it that seems to say 'we know better' attitude, kinda like that west coast arrogance we have in BC.
I'm telling you this because of recent events here in the Centre of All, guns, shootings. It seems there are more all the time in this big place. Did you know more people live within 60 kilometres of me here than in live in all of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined? Its big.
The use of guns to settle drug scores is becoming increasingly more common. We have all heard of the wayward bullets, missing their targets, striking innocent bystanders. I fear we will see more of this. Just yesterday I heard what sounded like gun shots. Three fast rounds. It echoed off the towers here. It sounded like a big piece of machinery falling from the 30th floor, it was so loud.
I quickly looked out the window, there are three cranes operating on a condo building blitz within 50 metres of me. It wasn't them. I scanned the area from the balcony, nothing. I ran to the bedroom window, just in time to see a commotion underway. It was gun shots I thought. Next I heard the tell tale sirens, first an ambulance, a fire truck, then the police. They swarmed the place.
I watched for awhile, no one was taken away in a body bag. I went back to other things, thinking some kid could have been hit with a stray bullet. Or maybe their parents, or someone's partner.
I went down later, about 7pm to see again what it was like down there. The street was still blocked. Bright yellow police tape, warned of a crime scene. The Calgary, the name of the building in which the shooting took place in front of stood more bleak than usual. 15 to 20 police were in cars writing reports, several were walking around, they were talking to people and blocking the street. Two ambulances stood by, for what reason I don't know. The fire truck was gone.
People with toddlers in strollers were going about, gaggles of men and women were meeting, more drug deals went on, oblivious to the police, others watched, a Jamaican woman told me they got the guy. Another chimed in saying no one was actually shot. Drug dealers she added, with a too little emotion. I took a few pictures being the ever thinking kinda guy I am and returned to the building.
In the elevator I told one of the riders what had happened. He had a better story, he was on a higher floor, on his friends balcony, and saw the whole thing. It turns out he saw two guys running, as the crossed the street he saw another running toward them. This last man reached into his pants, pulled out a pistol, then three shots rang out. He called 911 then went back to watch, the street was filling up, soon the police were there. Crazy he said to me, its just unreal.
I'm experienced now, in another day we would say I have been baptised to the ways of the big city.
Maybe, just maybe, some of those running for our parliament will do something about handguns. In a way I don't care too much what these folks in this other world operating in my world do to themselves. Its what happens when their disputes threaten those who expect to be reasonably safe when they go out and about here in No Man's Land.
You can expect a few posts on guns, the gun registry, the illegal trafficking of guns, and some of the causes of such violence and I may even have a few ideas as to how to make it better.
Toronto mayor tells NOW why there should be a Canada-wide ban on handguns. After the video, sign the petition. If video link not working, try this...
Amazing as it may seem, only one federal party would support a complete ban on handguns. Read about it here at Now Magazine.