What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words “North York”?

How about “Etobicoke?”

Now what comes to mind if someone says “Scarborough”?

Chances are you responded the way many people on the streets of Toronto did Wednesday.

“Crime,” answered one.

“Crime” echoed another.

“Ghetto” replied a third.

All of which is typical. And most of which is wrong.

It turns out the per capita crime rate east of Victoria Park is actually less than the same measurement west of that boundary in the rest of Toronto.

But you’d never know it by the former city’s reputation. Why has Scarborough become such a scarred borough? 

“I think it is the media,” suggests resident Donna Sharp. “I think that everyone uses the word Scarborough, and they come in and they just right away think that everybody is bad.”

It’s that kind of perception that Scarborough Councillor Norm Kelly is out to stop. He’s infuriated by the unreasonable rep. “When you identify yourself as somebody from Scarborough, people feel sorry for you,” he relates. “You know, they pity you.”

But he maintains there’s good reason to believe that’s inappropriate. “It’s a third of the land mass of the city. It’s a quarter of the population,” he points out. “It has million-dollar homes in it. It’s got leafy treed neighbourhoods with winding roads, a lot of beautiful communities.”

Kelly believes the problem lies with the media, which regularly talks about a crime happening in Scarborough. But when something similar occurs elsewhere, they give a location instead of saying just “North York.”
“No one likes to be thought of in a way that is contrary to the reality of who we are,” he proclaims.

He’s launching a campaign to get reporters to refer to any future crime scene by a specific intersection – and not by a well worn brush that tars an entire group of people.

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