A Forest Hill area synagogue and community centre once victimized by hate crime is among 17 religious organizations receiving federal funding to increase security measures on their premises.
In March, Public Safety Canada announced over $350,000 in federal funding to community faith organizations, mostly in the Greater Toronto Area, as part of their Security Infrastructure Pilot Program.
Chabad of Midtown, located on Bathurst Avenue, south of St. Clair Avenue, was among the recipients.
Rabbi Nechemia Deitsch, director of Chabad of Midtown, said his organization has already installed multiple cameras on the property using the $21,770 it received as part of the pilot program.
“It was sure a great thing to be able to get because we have stuff to put in our security system,” Deitsch said after the funding announcement. “It would have been nice if the government paid the whole bill not just half, but we appreciate whatever we got.”
In 2007, some of the facility’s windows were smashed in what was reported as a hate crime.
In 53 division, the unit that polices much of midtown Toronto, the Jewish community is most often the target of hate crimes, followed by the gay and black communities respectively, according to 2009 Toronto Police statistics. Of the 17 organizations receiving funding, eight of them are Jewish institutions.
To receive funding, organizations submitted an application outlining what security measures they intended to undertake.
At the Sephardic Educational Foundation in Thornhill, vandalism has also been an issue, according to president Maurice Benzacar.
“We had some graffiti and also we had some … pellet gun shot at some of the windows here at the front of the building,” Benzacar said in a phone interview.
He said he plans to have additional cameras installed after receiving about $5,360 from the federal government.
“We’re very grateful that the government came with this program,” he said. “It helps a lot.”
MP Peter Kent announced the funding on behalf of Vic Toews on March 18.
“Canada is not immune from violent acts that target individuals or groups based on their race, culture, religion or identity,” Kent said in a statement. “The funding announced today will help them improve security so our citizens can continue to remain engaged in their communities without fear of harm.”
The Security Infrastructure Pilot Program began in 2007 as a three-year project but has since been extended three times. It has provided funding to 121 organizations. Public Safety Canada is considering another extension of the program.
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