When city Councillor Doug Ford arrived at a community event in northern Toronto Wednesday adults and children alike mistook him for his brother Mayor Rob Ford.
The event sponsored in part by Toronto Police’s Somali Liaison Unit was held at the Dixon Road apartment complex, which was the site of the Project Traveller police raids in June that resulted in 19 drug-and-gun-related arrests.
A group of children asked the councillor, “Are you Rob Ford?” Councillor Ford replied that his brother was “a little bit balder and a little bit bigger.”
The atmosphere at the Dixon Road apartment complex has changed since the raids, police say. For months following the raids, the Somali Liaison Unit, a six-person unit working with the community, was an unwelcome presence, according to Constable Raman Sandhu. Now, according to Constable Horace Harvey, also with the unit, some people in the community are happy to see them in the neighbourhood.
“They know us by name,” Const. Harvey said.
Another name the children in the community knew was Rob Ford.
After mistaking Councillor Ford for the mayor, a group of children inquired where the mayor was. Mayor Ford was giving a speech Wednesday and could not attend the community event celebrating the opening of a lending library and a computer centre at 320 and 340 Dixon.
“This has been our area for 20 years,” said Councillor Ford. “My dad was here working with the Dixon Road community, my brother has and I am,” he said.
The children at the event were given free books donated from First Book Canada, an organization that promotes literacy in low-income neighbourhoods.
As part of community efforts to engage youth at Dixon, the community and Somali Liaison Unit are also starting an after-dark basketball project that will keep the lights on at local courts until 1 a.m.
“That [request] came from the kids,” said Constable Raman Sandhu with the Somali Liaison Unit out of 23 Division.
Councillor Ford’s involvement will be on the basketball court.
“I’ll be more on the basketball side,” he said. “I’m computer challenged.”