Community Housing CEO denies properties are unsafe

Gene Jones, the head of Toronto Community Housing, says the buildings he oversees are safe despite three fatal shootings in recent weeks at TCH properties.

Comments come in wake of 3 fatal shootings at TCH properties

A memorial was held Wednesday night for Jarvis Montaque, who was shot to death Sunday night outside his home in Rexdale. (Ivy Cuervo/CBC)

A vigil was held Wednesday evening for 15-year-old Jarvis Montaque who was shot Sunday night as he stood with friends outside his home on Jamestown Crescent in Rexdale.

Many people from the communtiy turned out to remember the teen who had been described as a "remarkable young man."

Earlier in the day, the head of Toronto Community Housing said Wednesday the public housing units he oversees are safe despite three fatal shootings in recent weeks, all on TCH properties.

Gene Jones, the CEO of Toronto Community Housing (TCH), appeared Wednesday on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and said much of the gun violence in public housing is caused by people who don’t live on TCH properties.

"I don’t think we have a safety problem," Jones told host Matt Galloway. "I think we have issues with criminal activity coming on our different sites. I think we have real safe communities. We have a few bad apples."

Tyson Bailey, 15, was fatally shot last month in the stairway of a TCH highrise. St. Aubyn Rodney, 15, died after he was shot in a TCH building on Turf Grassway, near the intersection of Jane and Finch. A 17-year-old has been charged with manslaughter in Rodney's death.

"We know these things are going on," said Jones. "People are running on our sites, shooting after these young men, it’s something that can’t be foreseen. I know that we run safe communities."

Galloway questioned Jones about reports that a security light was not working at the spot where Montaque was shot. There are reports the light had been out for more than a week.

"There’s a process that we have to go through," said Jones. "We have public dollars that we have to protect. There’s a procurement process that we have to go through. We can’t just go up there and pull out a light bulb. It has to be in stock we have to have ample supplies … you have to get a big boom up there. We try to get it done as quickly as possible."

Residents must give information to police, Jones says

Galloway also asked Jones about police complaints that security cameras at TCH sites are not properly positioned to record who is coming and going.

Jones said the best defence against violence is residents' willingness to provide information to police.

"A camera is a false sense of security," he said. "It only assists the police officer in identifying the crime. If witnesses come forward and identify those criminals, then we can solve the crime."

Jones also denied that security measures in place at TCH properties, such as door looks, are often not working.

"All my doors lock. If they don’t lock, [residents] know a number to call and we will get out there. I get many calls from residents and we respond immediately to those concerns."