Commemorating Black History Month
February is Black History Month, a time to commemorate the legacy and contributions of Black people in Canada and their communities. Here in Toronto-St. Paul’s, we’ve come together as a community to honor Black history, Black future, and our commitment to Little Jamaica. Thank you to my friends Lori Beazer, Star Jacobs, and the Oakwood Village BIA and Unitarian Church for hosting us at our local Oakwood-Vaughan Black History Month celebration.
I'd also like to express special thanks, on behalf of my family, to Councillor Amber Morley who took time to help my daughter Molly with her Black History Month assignment. Molly was very proud to learn, and write, about the first Black female city councillor elected in the City of Toronto since amalgamation. Amber is making history right now!
Mark Your Calendars: Mayoral By-Election
As you have no doubt heard, Mayor John Tory resigned from office at the conclusion of last week. Under provincial law, a municipal by-election must be held to fill the vacancy. The City Clerk has declared that this election will take place on June 26th, with early voting between June 8th and 13th. I very much hope that this by-election will engage Torontonians in a thoughtful and necessary conversation about the future of our city.
The 2023 City of Toronto Budget
The 2023 budget was the first (and hopefully last) budget using the new strong mayor powers. Unlike past budgets that were presented by staff, this budget was brought to Council by John Tory. While there were a number of measures in the budget I successfully advocated for and applaud- including additional funding for winterized bathrooms, mental health crisis supports, and financial assistance for renters at risk of eviction- the budget cuts neglected basic infrastructure and services that residents expect their City to deliver
Tory’s budget has a $1.5 billion capital shortfall that will hinder Toronto’s ability to repair crumbling roads, purchase new buses and subways, and move forward on our climate responsibilities. While the former Mayor repeatedly stated that senior levels of government will bail us out, there is no evidence of that materializing. In fact, until a Mayor and Council finally honestly address Toronto's financial challenges, services residents rely on will continue to decline and roads, parks, and infrastructure will continue to fall into disrepair. That's not acceptable.
Moreover, this budget slashed TTC funding leading to longer wait times for local bus routes, streetcars, and the subway during off-peak hours, while also increasing fares. I just don't accept that a "pay more for less service" strategy is the right approach to encouraging ridership on the TTC. A majority of Council also voted against Councillor Bravo’s vital motion to open a sufficient number of warming centre spaces to meet the needs of unhoused Torontonians. In the midst of a housing crisis the least City Council could have done is provide shelter to those in need. I’m disappointed in this outcome and am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure there isn’t a repeat of this callous vote next year.
Due to the strong mayor legislation, for the first time, Members of Council weren’t even able to vote on the budget as a whole. My colleagues and I were able to, however, vote on amendments.
On behalf of our community, I moved several budget amendments to support Torontonians detailed below.
I am pleased to report that my motion to add 8 new RentSafe inspectors was supported by the majority of Council. Working with my colleague Jamaal Myers, we were able to ensure that wait times for vital tenant complaints, including lack of heat, pests, and mould, will be reduced. For more information, please see the letter below:
Black & Indigenous Community Supports:
The City made a commitment to Black and Indigenous community agencies during the last budget that they would receive $500,000 last year and additional $500,000 this year. The programs funded through this allocation including counselling, job supports, and specialized youth programs. Unfortunately, the former Mayor’s budget did not honour that promise. I moved a motion to keep that commitment but unfortunately it was not approved by Council.
Support for Fraudulent Evictions:
One of the biggest threats to Toronto’s affordable housing stock is fraudulent evictions due to renovations (renovictions), or Landlord’s Own Use. These are loopholes within the Residential Tenancies Act that Landlord’s use to replace existing tenants that are protected by rent control so they can charge new tenants much higher rents.
Despite an estimated 75,000 fraudulent eviction attempts in Toronto per year, there are only 3 provincial Residential Tenancies Act inspectors for the entirety of the GTA. Renters are largely left on their own to fight these matters at the Landlord and Tenant Board against well-funded legal teams. That’s why I moved a motion to establish a city-led “fraud squad” to empower tenants to stick up for their rights.
This program would support tenants and also save the City money as it is much cheaper to keep an affordable unit than build a new one. Unfortunately, Council did not support this motion.
Community Skating Party Tomorrow!
Please join me tomorrow afternoon at North Toronto Memorial Community Centre for a skating party co-hosted by myself and the Oriole Park Association. Hot beverages and snacks will be provided!
Canadian Youth Climate Action Award
Environmental group, Pivot Green, is partnering with the Small Change Fund to create the first annual Canadian Youth Climate Action Award. This $1,500 Award will be presented to the group whose initiative best fits the criteria for having a significant impact on climate change. Two runner-up prizes of $500 each will also be awarded to projects of merit.
Applications are now open! Applications will be accepted between January 10 and March 25, 2023 and the results with be announced on Earth Day, April 22. To apply and view the eligibility requirements and judging criteria, please visit www.pivotgreen.ca/award.
NEW Affordable Seniors Housing Opportunity at St. Hilda's
Through my many years of advocating for more affordable seniors housing across our City, I'm pleased to share a new seniors affordable housing opportunity located in the heart of Little Jamaica.
The newly renovated Vaughan Tower at St. Hilda's Towers (Dufferin & Eglinton) is now taking applications for affordable seniors housing.
Located at 2339 Dufferin Street, these newly renovated apartments consist of studio and one bedroom rental homes suitable for seniors who can live independently, with or without support.
Amenities include: fully accessible units, a paid meal program, access to personal support workers and on-site wellness and active living programs.
The rents will start at $980 per month for studios and $1,157 for one bedroom rental homes.
For further details or to apply, please visit: St. Hilda's Tower's Affordable Housing.
Winona/McMurrich Schoolyard Improvements: Funding Secured!
Last year, I heard from parents in the Winona and McMurrich school communities l that their schoolyard and playgrounds were in need of some overdue improvements. I am happy to announce that I was able to secure $150,000 from Section 37 funds to put towards this revitalization project. Conversations on what the final product will look like are already underway and the funding will include an agreement that sees the schoolyard be available to the broader community outside of school hours.
TNO Food Bank
The TNO food bank in Thorncliffe Park was established at the outset of the pandemic in March of 2020. Knowing that 50% of the neighbourhood sat at, or below the poverty line, it became immediately clear that the community would be hit very hard. By the summer of 2020, the food bank was serving 400 families and seniors. The client base now includes over 2200 households and has new clients requesting assistance on a weekly basis.
With the dramatic rise in the cost of living, families are having an increasingly tough time getting food on the table. With the very generous assistance of local residents, we have been able to keep our shelves stocked but often face a shortage of supplies.
If you might consider a donation of non-perishable food or toiletries, it would be so gratefully appreciated. Donations can be dropped locally in bins on the porch at 131 Hanna Road any day of the week or at the food bank itself in the East York Town Centre at 45 Overlea Blvd. Please contact Geeta at (647) 975-9770 to arrange a drop-off at the food bank or for more information.
Thank you so very much for your kindness and support.
Black Women In Motion: Black Youth Employment Assistance Program
The Black Youth Employment Assistance Program (BYEAP) is a 14-week, virtual employment and entrepreneurial-focused program for survivors of gender-based violence. BYEAP provides employment-focused training opportunities and mental health resources to support survivors in developing their employability skills, business ideas and wellness strategies for job retention.
• Must reside in Ontario and identify as a Black Womxn (trans, cis, femme), Non-Binary or Gender-non-conforming youth between the ages of 16-29
• Unemployed, Underemployed or experiencing barriers to employment
• Must be able to commit to the entire duration of the program (14-weeks)
• Priority will be given to youth living in the Oakwood-Vaughan-Eglinton community and City of Toronto Neighbourhood Improvement areas.
UNISON OV Wellness Clinic
We are excited to share the opening of an integrated care clinic at Unison's Oakwood-Vaughan location.
Members of the community can drop in to receive COVID vaccines, blood pressure checks, mental health and harm reduction support, and be seen by a physician.
Central Eglinton Community Centre: March Break and Summer Day Camp
Central Eglinton Community Centre: Free Income Tax Online
A Message from the Humewood Community:
On behalf of our fundraising group, Cathy, Caroline and Shelagh, we would like to say a heart-felt thank you for once again, so generously supporting the 2022 Humewood Community Scholarship Fund. The 2022 fundraiser officially ended on Jan.9, 2023. The goal of $5,000 was reached, with the $4,380 raised, in addition to an anonymous donor who is contributing monthly. Thank you for helping young mothers to pursue their post-secondary educational goals.
We would also like to express our gratitude to St. Matthew’s community, and to our local community, served by both MPP Jill Andrew, and City Councillor Josh Matlow.
In addition, we want to inform the community that the Massey Center recently changed its name to the Abiona Centre. Here is their link: https://www.abionacentre.ca
As a result of the organization’s name change, the link to our specific fundraising page has also changed. Please go to this link to see the final totals from this year’s campaign: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/abionacentre/p2p/HCS2022/ We look forward to connecting with you again in the fall as we continue our annual fundraising efforts for the Humewood Community Scholarship.
Cathy, Caroline and Shelagh
City of Toronto: Launch of Resident Grants Pilot