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New playground unveiled at Toronto park where 2 girls were shot

Sisters, 5 and 9, had to undergo surgery but survived
AUG. 6, 2021
Yasmine Ghania

A revamped playground was unveiled Thursday in an east Toronto park where two young girls were injured in a shooting that shocked the city three years ago.

Around 5 p.m. on June 14, 2018, a gunfight erupted between two men at the playground at 10 Alton Towers Circle, south of McCowan Road and Steeles Avenue East. Eleven children were playing at the park at the time, according to police.

Two sisters, who were five and nine back then, were seriously injured and required surgery.

"Unfortunately there's not much we can do to erase what happened here in June 2018, but here's what we can try to do: bury that sadness with happiness and this is exactly what we're trying to do here today," said Maxime Langlois, director of the Crime Stoppers Be On The Lookout program, at the unveiling Thursday morning.

Three suspects were later charged. Two of them have been sentenced to 13 years in prison each.

Toronto Crime Stoppers says it commissioned the revamped park as part of its rewards program, which gives back to neighbourhoods that report crime.

'It's going to take a while to heal'
Stacey King, the mother of the two girls who were wounded, says her daughters are still traumatized but coping one day at a time with the help of their friends, family and church.

The new playground "brings a sense of hope for the community," King told CBC News.

She says she hopes the pain that she endured can bring more awareness to the problems firearms are causing in the city.

"It takes a community and a village to put a stop to gun violence," she said.

Molly Tyson, president of the board of directors at Milliken Co-Operatives Homes Inc., says the shooting three years ago "shattered" the sense of safety in the neighbourhood -- and it has yet to be rebuilt.

She says since the incident, children haven't played outside as often as before, with the pandemic making the situation worse.

"We've had some sessions of healing but it's going to take a while to heal," Tyson said.

"Two young children were shot. That memory is never going to come away from those kids who were there."

Toronto police says they've made a conscious effort to spend more time in the neighbourhood and interact with youth in a bid to make them feel safer.

Police say there hasn't been an incident in the immediate area of Alton Towers since the day of the shooting.