My family and I wish you, and those you love, a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyous holiday season.
I hope this finds you safe, healthy and warm, and I look forward to seeing you in our community in the new year.
City Secures Much-Needed Funding from Province
Mayor Olivia Chow and Premier Doug Ford recently announced that they had reached an agreement to that would see the Ontario government provide $400 million per year until 2026. The money will be directed toward our over-capacity shelter system, operating funding for the TTC including the Eglinton and Finch LRT projects, when they finally open, and capital dollars for new streetcars.
This funding is vital in the face of a $1.5 billion deficit heading into the 2024 budget. But it does come at a cost. I am deeply saddened that the announced agreement accepted the provinces ability to move forward on their plan to build a massive private spa at Ontario Place and acknowledges the prerogatives of the Ford government to move the Science Centre out of Flemington Park to Ontario Place. I continue to actively support both Ontario Place for All and Save the Science Centre's efforts.
Moreover, part of the funding is derived from the Ontario government agreeing to upload the Gardiner and the DVP from the City. This will free up approximately $200 million per year out of the $400 million negotiated. This is obviously a financially boom for Toronto. However, this move will likely eliminate the possibility of opening up an additional 5.6 acres in the Portlands for housing and greenspace through rebuilding the Gardiner east of Jarvis on the ground as Ford is likely to keep it an elevated expressway.
While the City has made these agreements that doesn’t mean the fight is over. The greenbelt and Peel Region dissolution reversal are just the most recent examples of Doug Ford caving to public pressure in the face of an unpopular move. I will continue to join residents across Toronto in demanding that Ontario Place remains public and the Science Centre continues to serve as an educational and employment hub for residents of Flemingdon Park and Thorncliffe Park.
For more information about how you can get involved please visit the websites for Ontario Place for All and Save Ontario’s Science Centre: Ontario Place for All – Say Yes to Public Space and No to a Private Spa at Ontario Place! SAVE ONTARIO'S SCIENCE CENTRE (savesciencecentre.com)
Crisis Looms as Aging Booms: Creating a Path Forward to Age in Place
Long-term care homes shouldn't be the only choice for older adults. Supporting our seniors to be able to age in place as an alternative will require innovative housing models, infrastructure, and coordinated services to ensure their independence, safety, health and social well-being are being supported. A Naturally Occurring Retirement Community is typically a multi-unit residential building that over time may naturally come to house a high density of older adults. In 2021, approximately 489 residential buildings were characterized as Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities in Toronto, housing 70,013 adults aged 65 years and older, and 30,346 adults aged 80 years and older.
Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities are paths for older adults to age in place, while providing opportunities to realign the delivery of existing health and social services in a more efficient and innovative way. In addition, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities programs strengthen and sustain healthy communities of older adults by addressing important determinants of healthy aging such as isolation, nutrition, physical fitness, and sense of purpose.
It is crucial that the City develop a comprehensive plan to support aging in place now. In 2016, Toronto crossed a demographic turning point with more people living in our city over the age of 65 than under 15. Subsequently, the percentage of our population over 65 has only increased—from 15.6 percent in 2016, to 17.1 percent in 2021, to an estimated 21.2 percent in 2041. This will place Toronto in the same category as “super aged” societies like Japan, where one in five people is a senior citizen.
I'm pleased to share that during last week's City Council meeting, my motion which was co-written by University Health Network's NORC Innovation Centre on creating new paths to allow for more older adults to age in place, passed unanimously. I look forward to working with City Staff across multiple divisions to get this work started. To learn more about my motion, please click here.
We owe it to our seniors to take the necessary steps to better support seniors to age in place through a coordinated Naturally Occurring Retirement Community plan.
Dundas Street Debate
Instead of renaming the street as a whole, Council has approved a compromise motion to rename Yonge and Dundas Square at a cost of just over $300 thousand, payed for by developers through section 37 funds, saving over ten million tax dollars compared to renaming the street as a whole. The new name, Sankofa Square, was chosen at the conclusion of a two year process by the City’s selected advisory committee, made up of leaders from Toronto’s Black and Indigenous communities as well as the local business community. It has come to light subsequent to the Council decision that the local Councillor, who moved this motion, did not adequately consult the Yonge-Dundas Square Board of Management. This concerns me greatly and is not an example of good governance. In addition, Council requested that the Toronto Public Library and the TTC rename the Jane/Dundas Library and Dundas and Dundas West Stations, respectively.
It is important to note that the final decision to rename the library and two subway stations lies not with City Council but with each respective board. I will be working closely with my colleagues on the TTC to ensure that a full review of our naming policies takes place, and that all options are considered, before we move forward with changing the names of Dundas and Dundas West stations.
Rob Ford Stadium
Mayor Chow and City Council have chosen to rename Centennial Park Stadium “Rob Ford Stadium”. Considering Rob Ford’s history of racism, misogyny, homophobia and dishonesty, and the international disgrace he brought to our city, I could not in good conscience support this motion, and know that there are many people in Toronto who would be far more deserving of such an honour. For more information, please see this article.
The capital backlog and operating deficit that the TTC faces is dire, and Toronto desperately needs a long term funding plan with the Provincial and Federal governments. However, the 2024 budget request approved by the board contains some good news. The recommendations include restoring service to 97% of pre-pandemic levels, providing operating funding for the future Lines 5 and 6, and no increase to the current fare levels. As a new member of the TTC Board of Commissioners, I look forward to working with my colleagues to make our transit system more affordable, safe, and reliable for all Torontonians.
Save Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre
The rain didn’t keep dedicated residents from rallying to Save the Ontario Science Centre. My family and I joined Save Ontario Science Centre, MPP Adil Shamji, MPP Mary Margaret McMahon and MPP Andrea Hazell and the Flemingdon Park community to tell Doug Ford to leave the science centre here where it belongs.
New Community Living Room at Oakwood and Vaughan
We now have a Community Living Room, at Oakwood and Vaughan, that’s all about defeating isolation and loneliness, improving our mental well-being and bringing people together! Thanks to Reset for your creativity and care…and the popcorn, indoor forest, sauna & giant plushies.
Black Women in Motion’s Black Youth Employment Assistance Program
Registration for Black Women in Motion’s Black Youth Employment Assistance Program is now open! The Black Youth Employment Assistance Program (BYEAP) is a 13-week, virtual employment and entrepreneurial-focused program for Black survivors of gender-based violence. The program provides employment-focused training opportunities and mental health resources to support survivors in developing their business ideas, employability skills, and wellness strategies for job retention.
- Must reside in Ontario, Canada.
- Must identify as a Black woman, nonbinary, two-spirit or gender-non-conforming youth.
- Must be able to attend weekly virtual capacity-building workshops on Tuesday OR Thursday evenings from 5:00 PM-7:30 PM.
- Must be able to commit to the entire 13-week duration of the program.
- Priority is given to victims and survivors of gender-based violence.
- Priority is given to youth who are unemployed, underemployed or experiencing barriers to employment.
- Priority is given to youth living in Toronto Community Housing communities and/or City of Toronto Neighbourhood Improvement Areas.
- Free Skills Training
- Referrals to Educational and Job Opportunities
- Small Business Development Support
- $500 Honorarium upon completion of the program
- 1-1 Coaching and Career Development services
- and more...
March 5th, 2024 - May 28th, 2024
HOW TO APPLY
If you match the criteria outlined above, please send a copy of your resume to [email protected] with "BYEAP-2024" in the subject line by Thursday, January 18th, at 11:59 PM (EST). Interviews will be held for all screened-in applicants the week of January 29th to February 2nd.
Celebrating Chanukah with the Midtown Yonge BIA
Happy Chanukah! I had a great time at the 7th annual Chanukah community celebration at Yonge and Davisville, hosted by the Midtown Yonge BIA in partnership with the Times Group.
Filipino Christmas Market
Thanks to Pinay Tayo Toronto for inviting me to the Filipino Christmas Market (Simbang Gami). I appreciate the many contributions Toronto’s Filipino community makes to our vibrant & diverse city. And to the entrepreneurial restauranteurs- thank you for the food…oh, the food!
11th Annual BIA Awards
Toronto’s Business Improvement Areas make our city’s main streets more vibrant, animated & successful places for businesses- and for our communities to meet. I was delighted to attend the 11th Annual Toronto Association of BIAs (TABIA) and City of Toronto BIA Recognition Awards Night.
5th Annual Humewood House Community Scholarship Fundraiser
The Humewood Community Scholarship Fund provides direct assistance to young mothers, in preparing for a better future for themselves and their children. With the generous support of this community over the past four years, 13 young mothers have received scholarships of $1,000 each to pursue post-secondary education at accredited colleges and universities. A fourteenth young mom will receive a scholarship of $1,000 pending the confirmation of her application to a post-secondary institution in the Spring of 2024.
Five years ago, 3 neighbors in the Humewood-St. Clair community started this scholarship fundraiser for young women who use the impressive range of parenting and educational services offered at Humewood House Campus, now part of the Abiona Centre for Infant & Early Mental Health.The fundraising campaign for 2023 has now officially started and will continue until January 15, 2024. 100% of funds raised go to the scholarship recipients. This year’s fundraising goal is $5,000 and a donation of any amount is appreciated. Donations of $20 and over will receive a tax receipt.
To make a donation, and for information on the fundraiser, testimonials and the types of programs that the graduates are enrolled in, please go to: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/abionacentre/p2p/HCS2023/
Thank you in advance for the community’s continued support of this initiative. Special thanks to MPP Jill Andrew, City Councillor Josh Matlow, and St. Matthew’s for their help in sharing information about The Humewood House Community Scholarship Fund.
Toronto Gingerbread Festival
The world needs more gingerbread. It was my pleasure to help launch this year’s Toronto Gingerbread Festival, hosted by the Yonge + St.Clair BIA in partnership with Habitat for Humanity GTA. I encourage all of us to support our city’s small businesses at we shop this holiday season.
Abiona Centre Donations
At Abiona Centre, we are dedicated to creating better future for vulnerable pregnant and parenting young mothers and their children birth to 6. Our infant and early childhood mental health programs give our clients the tools they need to build secure relationships with their babies, cope with life adversities, find help when needed and succeed in life.
Items that would be beneficial to the families we serve include: Gift cards (grocery, shoppers drug mart), hygiene products (both parent & children), children’s activities (toys or workbooks), baby focused developmental toys (blocks, stacking toys, push and pop), creative art projects (family friendly), self-care items (socks, robes, pajamas), infant/baby developmental toys, diapers (size 1 – 6 and pull ups), formula, wipes, and as always any financial donations/contributions.
To continue our vital work, we rely on the support of compassionate individuals and organizations in our community. Your generous contribution can help us maintain and expand our services, ensuring that young families receive the support they need to thrive.
Thank you for your consideration and support.
Together, we can make a difference in the lives of young moms and their children.
You can learn more at https://www.abionacentre.ca/.
Thank you to MP Carolyn Bennett
Our Member of Parliament, Carolyn Bennett, has announced her retirement after 26 years of dedicated service to out community and to our country. I am deeply grateful for our friendship and her thoughtful mentorship. Carolyn delivered for Toronto-St.Paul's, and her progressive legacy of democracy between elections will continue.
Toronto artists raise voices and funds to fight homelessness and support WoodGreen
Earlier this summer, Richard Todd gathered 13 musicians, along with the help of producer Chris Birkett to record a song he wrote to raise awareness about homelessness in the city.
The singers, all from the GTA, are collectively dubbed “Artists Against Homelessness”. They range in age from the teenage Anna Goldsmith to more seasoned veterans of the music industry like Todd.
This past July the artists donated their time and talents to help turn Todd’s song into a rallying cry for action on homelessness in the city.
Every time the song is streamed on services such as Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon Music, the royalties are donated to WoodGreen’s UNMET Needs Campaign.
The four-minute ballad, which leans toward country-rock, touches on addiction, domestic violence as well as families on the street.
“The point is that these are people just like you, who need help and understanding,” says Todd. “Ultimately, we all suffer as a community when someone else is suffering.”
“Toronto’s Forgotten Homeless” is available on most streaming services as well as YouTube. To donate directly to WoodGreen’s UNMET Needs Campaign, please visit: http://woodgreen.org/unmet-donate.
Interfaith Fundraiser at Holy Blossom
I was deeply grateful to participate in an interfaith holiday concert with Holy Blossom Temple and the Metropolitan Community Church in support of Ve'ahavta, helping people in poverty throughout our city. It was an evening full of music, joy, compassion, cooperation & peace. Let’s do more of this together.
New Park at 15 Delisle Community Engagement Activity
A new park is coming to the Yonge and St Clair neighbourhood! As the community consultations are ongoing, join your neighbours in an online thought exchange activity to help create a vision for the new community space: http://toronto.ca/15DelisleAve
Un-Turkey Giveaway with Freeman Realty
A few years ago, Freeman Realty took up Honest Ed’s tradition of giving out free turkeys at Christmas. Then Elden Freeman became a vegetarian and began giving out “un-turkey” (fresh, plant-based food) to Torontonians. My family and I were delighted to join them again this year.
January is Alzheimer Awareness Month
Did you know that number of people diagnosed and living with dementia in Canada is rising? By the year 2050, more than 1.7 million people are expected to be living with dementia in our country. But there is hope.
Together, we can take action to reduce our own dementia risk. The Alzheimer Society of Toronto recommends these 10 evidence-based ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia. Be physically active each day: Keep moving any physical activity helps.
- Protect, check and support your hearing.
- Stay socially active: Stay engaged with your family, friends and community.
- Manage your medical conditions and learn more about them.
- Quit smoking: Reducing smoking even in later life, can improve your brainhealth.
- Seek support for depression: Treatment will help improve your mood and brain functioning.
- Drink less alcohol: Try mocktail and alcohol-free drink options instead.
- Protect your heart: What’s good for the heart is also good for the brain.
- Avoid concussion and traumatic brain injury: Play, travel and work safe.
- Aim to get quality sleep: Work toward sleeping well for 6 to 8 hours each night.
Learn more about the Alzheimer Society of Toronto and why brain health is so important Brain Health Tips – Alzheimer Society of Toronto: Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia.