Councillor Josh Matlow's Community and City Hall Update: Season's Greetings
Exploring the Potential for a Community Hub at St. Bruno Catholic School The St. Bruno Catholic Elementary School has been the heart of the Frankel Lambert community, near Christie and Dupont, for decades. Former students have seen their children and grandchildren attend the school. The school has also operated as a Community Hub by hosting sporting events, Christmas pageants, fun fairs, and other events for the wider area. Unfortunately, due to declining enrollment, St. Bruno has been merged with St. Raymond School. The new school is set to begin construction this spring. Losing this public space would rip the heart out of the area. That's why I'm pleased that Council supported my motion directing Staff to work with the Toronto Catholic District School Board to investigate the potential for a Community Hub providing social and/or recreational services to operate at the school site after the property is declared surplus. The decision regarding the future of St. Bruno rests with the Toronto District Catholic School Board but I will continue working with the community, local Trustee Di Pasquale, and City Staff to urge them to keep this public land in public hands and to serve the community.
Mayor Tory Announces City Building Fund Increase Mayor Tory recently announced an increase to the City Building Fund to address the critical capital backlog at Toronto Community Housing and the TTC. These funds will largely go toward repairing social housing units and new tracks, signal upgrades, and vehicles for our transit system. For more information, please see this report.
Council unanimously supports initiative to create a new emotion-centered approach to Long-Term Care
For the first time in history, there are now more Torontonians over the age of 65 than children aged 15 and under. Looking ahead, the number of people in Toronto aged 65 and over is expected to almost double by 2041. This growth requires the City of Toronto to proactively implement meaningful change to long-term care, including emotion-centered approaches to care that will meet the diverse and complex needs of residents.
In July 2018, I was deeply heartened that my motion passed unanimously by Council to take the first steps toward transforming care within each of the City’s ten Long-Term Care Homes. Through this motion, the City’s former Long-Term Care Homes and Services (LTCHS) Division was requested by Council to report on the potential for a pilot project inspired by care-based programs, such as the Butterfly and Greenhouse Project models, to better support seniors living with dementia, in one of the City’s ten Long-Term Care Homes units. LTCHS engaged Dr. Pat Armstrong, Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology at York University, as an external consultant and researcher to assist in investigating leading models and approaches to dementia care. In her report, Dr. Armstrong and her team concluded the need for increased direct care staffing levels, and the need to not implement one single model of care across Long-Term Care Homes.
While I agree that a flexible model of care should be used across the 10 Long-Term Care Homes, I also firmly believe that an implementation strategy to ensure that all 10 Long-Term Care Homes provide emotion-centered approaches to care should be employed, along with a specific accountability process to measure the plan’s outcomes against stated goals.
I’m proud to announce that Council unanimously supported the new Seniors Services and Long-Term Care (SSLTC) Division's recommendations to increase the direct care staffing level from 3.5 to 4 hours of care per resident per day, implement and fully evaluate an emotion-centered approach to care pilot at Lakeshore Lodge and request the Provincial government to invest additional funding in the City’s long-term care homes.
With the demographic of our city changing, we must begin taking these major steps required to ensure the quality of life and care in our City’s Long-Term Care Homes is both innovative and thoughtful.
SAVE THE DATE: Oakwood-Vaughan Community Service Fair! On Wednesday January 15th from 4:00pm-7:00pm at Maria A. Shchuka Library, I'm hosting a service provider and community outreach session. Join us to learn more about the services offered by local service providers, not-for-profits and organizations located in the heart of Oakwood-Vaughan. Check out what's happening in the neighbourhood and more importantly, tell us what's missing. Don't forget to test your luck and enter our raffle at my table for a chance to win a tour of City Hall. Please note that light refreshments will be served and this event is fully accessible. I look forward to seeing you there. For more details, click here.
Mayor Tory Puts Improved Sidewalk Snow Removal Plan on Ice Last winter, the Mayor and Councillors, including myself, called for improved standards for sidewalk snow maintenance due to valid concerns raised by residents that Toronto’s current standards are completely insufficient in the downtown and centre of the city. In particular, a significant number of seniors and others with mobility issues reported slip and fall incidents. While sidewalks are the responsibility of individual property owners, there are far too many that are not fulfilling their duty.
While the City could look at increasing fines and/or enforcement, it is unlikely that there will be enough by-law officers to effectively ensure that all sidewalks are cleared. This is unacceptable given the risk to residents’ safety and the effect on mobility which negatively impacts physical and mental well-being.
It is inequitable that residents in the former cities of North York, Scarborough, Etobicoke, and York receive sidewalk snow clearing while the majority of the legacy cities of Toronto and East York do not. This is especially concerning given that the levels of pedestrian traffic are much higher in these areas. Residents of our city’s inner suburban areas also frequently walk through downtown and midtown, and rightfully expect safe and accessible sidewalks too.
Seven months ago, City Council requested that an in-depth review of snow clearing be conducted. The Winter Maintenance Report provided to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in October prescribed very little practical change and does not adequately prepare Toronto for the coming winter season.
Transportation Services’ recommendations do not go far enough to meet the equity, accessibility and safety goals requested by Council, and recommended by consultants in the review. Specifically, the lack of a robust and detailed mechanical sidewalk clearing program has left me extremely concerned about the well-being of our residents this upcoming winter.
Despite the protests of some Councillors, the Committee buried the report. My colleague, Councillor Layton, tried to bring the item back at full Council in November for debate but was voted down by Mayor Tory and much of his team.
The City of Toronto can and must do a better job at clearing snow. Unfortunately, because of the action of Mayor Tory and others on Council that will not happen this year. I will continue advocate with my colleagues who understand why this is a priority to ensure that snow clearing is improved in our community, and in every community, during the coming winters. In the meantime, please be safe on the streets this winter and do all that you are able to support neighbours that cannot clear their sidewalks.
For those looking to support our very own Deer Park's Resident Group on their initiative to harmonize Toronto's snow clearing services, I invite you to click here.
‘Tis the season for gift giving, holiday parties and spending time with family and friends. It’s also a time of year when people tend to produce more waste. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, the City of Toronto is asking residents to be mindful of the waste they generate during the holiday season.
Small changes to daily routines can make a big impact. Apply the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle right – and try to incorporate some of the following tips into your holidays. Also check the 2020 waste management calendar, coming soon to your mailbox.
Reduce: • Carry a reusable bag when shopping for holiday gifts and say no to excess tissue and packaging. • Consider low-waste gifts such as gift cards, tickets to an event, an experiential or service-based gift or give a charitable donation in a loved one’s name. • Avoid single-use items such as cutlery, plates and cups when planning holiday parties.
Reuse: • Save gift bags, gift wrap, ribbons and bows to reuse year after year. • Host a holiday swap with parents to exchange kids’ clothes and toys that are no longer used. • Get crafty when wrapping by using items you have around your house such as newspaper, old calendars and cards.
Recycle right: • Dispose of foil/metallic wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, bubble wrap, bubble envelopes, packing peanuts and fruit crates in the garbage. • Recycle paper gift wrap and flattened cardboard, and rinse plastic plates and plastic cups before placing them in the Blue Bin (recycling). • Never put recycling in black bags or throw black plastics in the Blue Bin (recycling). • Use the Green Bin (organics) for fruit and vegetable scraps, meat including bones, spoiled cakes and cookies, and soiled paper plates and napkins (unless they have absorbed chemicals such as cleaning products).