Interested in auditioning? Please click this link to learn more.
Supporting Black-Owned and Operated Businesses and Preserving the Cultural Heritage of Eglinton Avenue West’s “Little Jamaica”
Historically, whether it be the construction of an expressway or due to gentrification, Black communities have been displaced in cities throughout North America. We cannot allow this to happen again. The heart and soul of Eglinton Avenue West, which is colloquially known as “Little Jamaica” or “Eglinton”, is home to the highest concentration of Black and Caribbean-owned and operated businesses in Toronto. From the barbershops and hair salons that act as community spaces to the various restaurants that remind many of home, “Little Jamaica” on Eglinton Avenue West’s history and character should be celebrated and its future must be protected.
However, many Black-owned and operated businesses have been fighting a battle against the potential loss of the identity and roots of their neighbourhood for years. That is why, I was pleased to move a motion that was seconded by Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson and supported by Mayor John Tory, to provide short-term supports and a substantive long-term vision to ensure the retention and growth of Black-owned and operated businesses, while celebrating the identity, and showcasing the resiliency, of the Caribbean community.
We moved the motion, but now the real work begins. The City's interdivisional team that I assembled hosted their first launch yesterday evening with over 300 community members in attendance. This is a historic opportunity that will take us working together to achieve. I will keep our community updated on next steps. To learn more about this initiative, please click here.
Scarborough Residents Promised a Subway, Only Given longer Commutes on Buses
Last month, the TTC unfortunately informed the residents of Toronto that the Scarborough Rapid Transit Line-Scarborough Line 3 will no longer run past 2023. This is 3 years sooner than what City Council was previously told and would leave Scarborough residents on long bus rides for 7 years if the province builds the still unfunded Scarborough Subway on time.
It is sad, but not surprising, that years of baseless pandering to Scarborough residents with promises of a subway that never made sense have brought us to this point: no rapid transit of any kind. I will continue working to provide honest, fact-based transit options to get residents to work, school, and see loved ones as efficiently as possible
The TTC has estimated that the discontinuation of the Scarborough Rapid Transit service will result in a loss of ridership due to an eighteen minute average increase in commute time. It is estimated that this inferior service will cost over $300 million in additional capital and operating costs. Further, the TTC states that the increase in buses will cause traffic delays and impacts on local residential neighbourhoods.
Given the significant effect that this discontinuation of service will have on Scarborough residents, and the City as a whole, it is incumbent upon City Council to explore every option to mitigate the impact of this service disruption. That’s why, at next week's Council meeting I'm moving a motion with my Scarborough colleague, Councillor Paul Ainslie, requesting that the City Manager provide a technical assessment of the Scarborough Light Rail Transit project, and options to use the existing Scarborough Rapid Transit right-of-way to run a faster, more efficient bus service.
For more information, please read these Toronto Star and Toronto Sun articles.
2021 City Budget Gets Green Light from Council
Last month, I held a budget townhall to ensure that I was accurately reflecting our community's priorities, and represent you, when I vote on our behalf on the City of Toronto's budget.
While the City is calling on the federal and provincial governments to fill the $649-million hole in our budget, this year's $14-billion operating budget includes the lowest base property tax for homeowners in the last 8 years, calls for reviewing further non-police emergency responses to non-violent incidents, providing about 400 jobs and training programs to young people, enhanced funding for community programs hardest hit by COVID-19 and more. For further details, please read this news article here.
COVID-19 Vaccination Program: Ontario Government & City of Toronto Release Details on What's to Come
As we approach the one year mark since our City shutdown and our lives changed completely, the Ontario Government and City of Toronto have finally released some details on their vaccination plans.
Presently, the federal government is responsible for securing the vaccines, while the provincial government is responsible for distributing and lastly, the city is responsible for administering. You may review this Provincial news release to get a better understanding of which age cohort is under which phase. For more information on vaccine administration within the City of Toronto, please visit my website here.
Have Your Say! Cottingham Square Community Improvement Town Hall
I'm delighted to announce that Cottingham Square has received funding to go towards new improvements for the community. Over the past couple of years, I've heard some great ideas on different priorities the community has identified which includes improvements to Cottingham Junior Public School's Playground facilities, Lionel Conacher Park, and an opportunity to beautify the closed off road allowance between Gange Ave and Cottingham Street.
I've had preliminary discussions with the City's Parks Department and TDSB to share some initial concepts with you.
Please join me and your neighbours for an online discussion on Tuesday, March 16th at 6:30pm to share your feedback and any other ideas you may have. Click here for more information on how to access this event.
ActiveTO and CafeTO Midtown: Yonge Street, between Bloor and Davisville, Receiving a Complete Streets Pilot Project for Spring/Summer 2021
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of you have seen and enjoyed new curb cafes and temporary bike lanes via the CaféTO and ActiveTO programs that the City coordinated as part of its public health emergency response last year. This was done to provide a lifeline to our local businesses by providing more seating capacity outdoors, given the indoor restrictions and create modes of transportation to accommodate physical distancing, which resulted in making our streets safer and more accessible to all Torontonians. This was especially important with the drop in transit ridership that we have seen as a result of the discomfort that many have felt due to COVID-19.
ActiveTO and CafeTO are continuing in 2021, and I have been informed by Transportation Services that they have identified Yonge, between Bloor and Davisville, for these programs. Staff will be bringing forward a recommendation for a potential ActiveTO pilot, along with CafeTO, in Midtown. The pilot would include the positive improvements we have seen in other parts of the city last year: CaféTO on-street patios, streetscape improvements, temporary bikeways, spaces for parking, loading and deliveries, as well as road safety improvements at intersections and along the section of Yonge Street. The pilot approach allows for thorough and continuous public consultation, monitoring and testing of the proposal, which will enable the City to actively adjust the project based on feedback and live data.
Given the unprecedented impact the pandemic has had on TTC ridership and the drop in traffic as far more people are working from home this year, it is reasonable that now is an appropriate time to pilot this initiative in a pragmatic and responsible way.
The consultation process with the community has begun and will expand in the coming weeks. City staff, Councillor Layton (who represents the ward south of ours) and I have already started our discussions with local community groups, businesses, schools and other key stakeholders. Community and business consultations will be the key as to how this potential pilot project will be designed and delivered by taking into account the specific circumstances of each neighbourhood surrounding Yonge Street. We will work closely with the community to provide support and guidance through the consultation process, and to ensure that this is done with, and for, the community in order to make Yonge Street the complete, vibrant and functional street that we need.
To achieve this, continued feedback to city staff from, and in collaboration with, local residents and businesses is crucial. There will be a larger public consultation meeting, subject to direction by City Council, which has been tentatively scheduled for April 27th. I will make sure to share more detailed information on this meeting in my next e-newsletter update.
If you are interested to find out more about the complete streets approach being considered, you can find more information on the City's website at this link.
Creating Better Parks in Oakwood-St. Clair
We're talking about parks in the Oakwood-St. Clair neighbourhood! I am pleased to announce that the City of Toronto is studying the parks and outdoor spaces around the Oakwood Ave. and St. Clair Ave. W. area to identify opportunities to upgrade and create new parks and recreation facilities. The findings of this study will be used to guide short and long-term investments in the local park system. The area was identified as a priority area for new and improved parks in the City of Toronto's Parkland Strategy adopted by City Council in 2019.
Your local knowledge, experiences, and ideas are essential to creating the Oakwood-St. Clair parks plan! We need your help to understand which parks you like to visit, how you think local parks can be improved, and what types of new parks and park facilities you think are needed in your neighbourhood. For more information about the study, please visit the project website. You can help identify ways to improve the parks system by participating in a fun and interactive online mapping exercise and online survey. Help us to shape the future of your community!
Online Public Consultation: Oakwood Neighbourhood Cycling Connections on Winona Drive
The City's Cycling & Pedestrian Projects unit is looking at improving the cycling network in our ward, with a focus on a north-south connector in the western portion of the ward. Through the Cycling Network Plan, Winona Drive has been identified as a major cycling route that would benefit from improved cycling infrastructure. After the Quiet Streets intervention on the street last year, Transportation Services has received invaluable feedback from the community and wants to implement some of the proposed improvements.
The City will be sending out formal public consultation notices in the mail next week, but I wanted to give you a head's up on the date and how to partake in the meeting. If you have any feedback or questions, feel welcome to reach out to my office and the Cycling department directly at [email protected].
Public Consultation Meeting Information:
Date: March 22, 2021
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Access: Online and/or via phone.
- For online access, please register and access online meeting at this link
- For phone access, call 416-915-6530 and when prompted enter 133 009 4147 as the Meeting ID number. Participants connecting by phone are able to ask live questions during the meeting by dialing *3.
For more information on the City's Cycling Network Plan visit the City's website here.
Make Your Voice Heard: Improvements to Robertson Davies Park
Thank you to everyone who participated in last month's public meeting regarding the improvements to Robertson Davies Park. Although I am very excited that the park will be receiving some much needed sprucing up, there were some serious concerns raised at our last meeting in regards to the City's initial design concepts. As a result, I will be establishing a Working Group for all those who are interested so that your comments are incorporated into the final design. Please contact me at [email protected] to register.
Have Your Say! Public Consultation Meeting for the Development Proposal at 175-195 St. Clair Avenue West and 273 Poplar Plains Road
The city has received an application to amend the Official Plan and zoning by-law to permit a 15-storey residential building at 175-195 St. Clair Avenue West. Please join me for an online consultation meeting to learn more about the proposal, as well as share your comments and concerns.
When: Tuesday, March 23rd at 6:30pm
Where: This meeting will be hosted by the City through an online format called WebEx. Registration details can be found here.
The full submission to the City which includes the architectural plans and technical studies can be accessed here.
You can also contact the City's planner reviewing this development application:
Creating a New Park for Midtown Toronto: Green Line Update
Thank you to everyone who participated in our virtual public meeting held last week regarding the new park between Davenport on the east and Hydro lands on the west on the south side of MacPherson Avenue as part of the City's Green Line initiative. This is one of the first new parks to be part of the 5km long Green Line linear park through the heart of Toronto! Although the feedback received during the meeting was largely positive in regards to the proposed park's design, I do share the concerns heard about pedestrian safety at the adjoining intersections and throughout Macpherson. I had requested numerous studies over the years by Transportation Services and some improvements have already been made such as the full traffic signals at Spadina and Macpherson. However with the anticipated increases in foot traffic due to the future park, another safety review of the intersections along Davenport is crucial. I am committed to working closely with City Staff and I look forward to providing updates as they become available – both in regards to the safety concerns as well as the park's construction timeline.
Supporting Small Businesses & Creating Vibrant Main Streets: CafeTO Registration Opens & Ontario Expands Main Street Relief Grants
For local restaurant operators interested in an expanded curb lane or sidewalk café as part of CaféTO program, the first registration window opened on February 26 and will remain open until March 26! To register for CaféTO, a 2021 CaféTO certificate of insurance is required.
In addition, the Ontario government is expanding the number of small businesses that can apply for the Main Street Relief Grant to help offset the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment to cautiously and gradually reopen in parts of the province. Small businesses with two to 19 employees (expanded from two to nine employees) in all eligible sectors, including those in the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, can now apply for up to $1,000 in financial support.
Our community’s business owners have been trying to the best of their abilities to adapt to our constantly changing environment. While our favorite local shops are working to protect our health and safety, let’s shop local to support them. We need our main streets to survive this pandemic. I welcome you to visit my website here to see the many Business Improvement Areas in our ward that you can support through shopping local!
Make Your Voice Heard: City of Toronto Seeking Feedback on Natural Garden Exemption
The City is seeking feedback on the natural garden exemption process and wants your input. Feedback will inform a report expected to come in the next few months at the Planning and Housing Committee.
The Grass and Weeds Bylaw requires that grass and weeds on private property be maintained so that growth does not exceed 20 cm (8 inches) in height. However, property owners or occupants can apply for a permit to be exempted from this requirement if they have a natural garden. Natural gardens provide environmental benefits, including the creation of natural habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
City Staff are considering removing the process for natural garden exemption permits. This means that residents can have a natural garden without applying for an exemption. Natural gardens will still need to meet maintenance requirements to ensure health and safety of Toronto’s neighbourhoods.
If you would like to provide feedback on this proposal, please email ML[email protected] by 11.59 p.m. March 31, 2021. Please visit this site to learn more.
Supporting the Korean Community at Rose of Sharon LTC Home
Our community is very fortunate to have the Rose of Sharon LTC facility located in the heart of our ward, as it's Canada's only long-term care home dedicated to serving Korean seniors. Last year, it was brought to my attention that the Rose of Sharon was purchased by Rykka Care Centres in December 2019. With the pandemic exposing a number of vulnerabilities and scary realities in our long term care system, both residents and loved ones became extremely worried by the fact that Rykka Care Centres ranked second in having the highest COVID-19 related deaths when compared to their for-profit peers.
As Toronto's Seniors Advocate, I worked with the 100 Vaughan Tenants Association and family members from the Rose of Sharon to arrange a meeting with the Ministry of Long Term Care to voice our concerns and express our support for the home to be transferred to a much more suitable purchaser such as the Arirang Age-Friendly Community Centre, a non-profit organization representing the Korean community. While the transfer of the home still requires approval from the Provincial government, I'll be sure to keep our community up-to-date on this pressing matter. For further details, please read this news article.
Watch: COVID-19 Pandemic Online Public Forum
Last Monday, I heard from many of you at my COVID-19 Forum with top health experts including Dr. Eileen de Villa, Dr. Samir Sinha and Dr. David Fisman on vaccines, variants of concern, transmissibility and everyone's number one question: when will things get back to normal. The forum was not only informative, but it provided some much-needed hope and optimism. A return to a better reality is in sight. For those of you who couldn’t attend, please click here to listen to the recording.
Toronto & Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) Offering Free Virtual Events
As Board Member of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, I'm pleased to share their exciting free webinars and e-learning activities, guided hikes, festivals and other seasonal events, educational workshops, and public consultations. Come explore nature, culture, and the environment in Toronto and the GTA! To learn more, please click here.
Family Day Fun: Online Storytime with Canadian Children's Authors
Thank you to the amazing Canadian children’s authors and illustrators, Debbie Ridpath Ohi, Ruth Ohi, Ted Staunton, Loretta Garbutt, Sherry Lee, Sharon and Randi Hampson and Eleanor Lefave of Mabel’s Fables for joining us for a fun and successful Community online Family Day event!
Call for Expression of Interest: Public Artwork for Eglinton Way BIA
STEPS Public Art, the Eglinton Way Business Improvement Area (BIA) and the City of Toronto are inviting professional artists (including artist teams) to submit their Expression of Interest to the first stage of a competition for public artwork(s) that will be installed at one (1) of five (5) locations along Eglinton Avenue West in 2021 and 2022.
The application deadline is 11:59 pm ET on March 17, 2021. To view the full details about the site, the opportunity, and how applications can be submitted please click here.
Takin' a Seat at Vaughan & Winona
It was my pleasure to work with OVNAP Chair, Lyba Spring, Davisville PS and TDSB Trustee, Shelley Laskin to install a beautiful, new and truly extraordinary wooden bench at the corner of Vaughan and Winona.
Check Out What’s In Store this Winter Season with Mosaic
Our friends and partners at Mosaic are working hard to ensure that our seniors are staying connected and keeping well during this pandemic. I encourage to check out their March's events calendar here to learn more about the online programs they offer.
Feeling Lonely? We Care About You
During the COVID-19 crisis, and even during normal times, too many seniors are isolated. I’ve organized a team of caring volunteers who are ready to reach out to seniors in our community who feel lonely. Please feel very welcome to post this notice in your building or street. For a printable version, please click here.
FREE YouTube for Beginners Program
Are you between 17 - 25 years old and interested in growing your YouTube channel? YouTube for Beginners is a free 5-week program that will teach you how to plan, strategize, and create new YouTube videos. Click here to apply by March 14th!
Talking Priorities with the Deer Park Community
This past month, I had the pleasure of meeting with our Deer Park community to have a thoughtful and informative conversation about local priorities such as development, traffic concerns, transit and much more.
Call for Submissions: 2021 Toronto Urban Design Awards
The Toronto Urban Design Awards, held by the City of Toronto every second year, recognize achievements in urban design, architecture and landscape architecture. The call for 2021 submissions is now open. Designers, developers, project owners, community groups, design students and others are invited to enter eligible projects. The deadline for submissions is 4 p.m. on Monday, April 26.
Submission categories include elements, private buildings in context, public buildings in context, small open spaces, large places or neighbourhood designs, visions and master plans, and student projects. Design students are also encouraged to enter theoretical or studio projects relating to Toronto.
This year will focus on both the recent growth as well as the post-pandemic city, and the equity issues that have emerged.
More information is available at www.toronto.ca/tuda.
Funding Grant Expands Seniors Program Combatting Loneliness & Isolation
As Toronto's Seniors Advocate, I was pleased to work with Tai Huyh from the University Health Network, the Landlord, Property Manager and founder of OASIS, Christine McMillian, to initiate an OASIS program within the building located at 400 Walmer. This program is designed to 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. OASIS, which is a preventative alternative to long-term care, supports ageing well, and promotes living independently. The purpose of this program is to provide a supportive living program for older adults that builds community among members in the setting of an existing private sector apartment building through collaboration with public sector, not-for-profit, and private sector organizations. I've attached some pictures below to showcase the wonderful space that we achieved together.
It's clear that this program can do so much to improve seniors quality of life. Congratulations to Tai, his team at OpenLab and Christine for being awarded a $1.5 million grant to expand this program to future sites over the next 4 years.
New kitchen located in 400 Walmer's OASIS program space
Follow My Updates on Social Media
I’m grateful to provide you with regular updates through our e-newsletter. Make sure you don’t miss a beat by connecting on social media as well! Follow me on Facebook (Josh Matlow), Twitter (@JoshMatlow), and Instagram (@joshmatlow) to keep up with the latest news from our community and City Hall.
A Community Message from Play4All Merton
Hello constituents! We’re back with a Play4All.MertonProject update as our team works hard fundraising to build a playground. In this edition our vibrant community would like to take the time to thank the generous donors of Merton Street, surrounding neighbourhoods, and all of Josh Matlow’s Ward 12!
After Play4All.MertonProject was featured on Global News Toronto in Susan Hay’s, Making A Difference, we had a spike in donations on our GoFundMe page raising almost $3,000 in two days! We were struck by the support that came from our own neighbourhood, and for that we want to thank you.
Play4All.MertonProject’s latest initiative is a new Student Leadership Council starting this week. The council has been tasked with creating an event or awareness initiative in exchange for community hours for school. Play4All.MertonProject is committed to helping them out while improving their leadership and teamwork skills. We look forward to seeing what the team comes up with!
With so many difficulties happening in Canada and the world today, it can be difficult to know how to help. A good place to start could be in your own neighborhood. If you have any ideas or would like to collaborate with our organization please email [email protected] to speak with our outreach team. Our momentum is good, community spirit is high, and spring is just around the corner. No better time to have a place to play outside!