If you’re unable to attend the clinic, please check out my website here to learn about other opportunities to get vaccinated and relevant information.
Our Advocacy to Ensure Youth Across Toronto Have Access to Youth Spaces Achieves Success
During the 2018 election, I campaigned on creating 20 new youth spaces in community centres and libraries to support young people across Toronto. This week, the City has announced that they are finally opening.
These spaces were identified in the seminal Roots of Youth Violence report, and many other studies, that concluded that police enforcement is just one piece of the puzzle in curbing gun and gang activity amongst young people. Experts cite inequality, poverty, systemic racism, and a lack of opportunity as primary factors influencing whether a teen picks up a gun or chooses a better path in life. Safe spaces that provide better options for vulnerable young people will support families, create safer communities, and save lives.
Youth Spaces are:
Enhanced Youth Spaces (City Community Centres):
Supervised spaces that are open to youth 5-6 days a week. There are currently 20 in operation. These spaces have stuff like WiFi, TV, gaming consoles, foosball tables, pool tables, computers, recording studios, photography labs, and study spaces. Free programs include photography, barbering and hairstyling, yoga, DJing, and music recording.
Youth Hubs (Toronto Public Library):
Safe space in the library for all youth, ages 13-19. There are currently 23 in operation. Youth can spend time doing homework with tutors, hanging out, playing board or video games, and participating in events, programs and workshops. Many of the activities make use of the technology that the Youth Hub owns, including laptops, digital cameras, DJ equipment, and Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. Activities include: Gaming, Homework Help, Employment resources, De-stressing activities, and special workshops such as financial literacy, poetry, writing, video editing, health and wellness, and dance.
Supporting Quality of Life at Yonge and Eglinton: Our Community’s Vision for Canada Square Moves Forward
As you may recall, last year Oxford Properties proposed a redevelopment plan for the Canada Square site at the southwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton that did not meet the needs of our growing community. I then established a Midtown Working Group to put forward a vision for Canada Square to transform the neighbourhood into a complete community, including:
- A large public park
- A new elementary school
- Public square on the corner
- Affordable housing
- Post-secondary institution
- Significantly increased office space for innovative companies and community organizations
- Cultural facilities such as a theatre space for the performing arts
After this vision was not supported by Planning & Housing Committee on Monday June 28, 2021, many of you took the time to send emails to the Mayor and Council to advocate for our community. Thanks to your advocacy, I’m happy to report that the vision for a more liveable Yonge-Eglinton was approved unanimously at Council!
I will be sure to update you when the Planning Division will report in the fall with a feasibility study.
Successful Pop-Up at Fairbank PS Vaccinates 1227 Residents:
A few weeks ago, I co-hosted a pop-up with York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors, Sinai Health, Women's College, UNISON, and the TDSB for our community. Over the course of two days, 1227 residents got vaccinated and a total of 140 community members received their first dose! To ensure our clinic remained hyper-local, Dr. Nathan Stall and I took to the streets during a torrential rain storm to talk and direct residents to our clinic! Thank you to our partners at York-Eglinton BIA and Oakwood Village BIA for the support and gift card giveaways!
Supporting Black Owned or Operated Businesses in Little Jamaica
Little Jamaica is the historical home of the Caribbean community in Toronto and likely has the highest concentration of Black-owned businesses in Canada. Unfortunately, the unique character of this important community is under threat. Black-owned and operated businesses on Eglinton have been fighting a battle to protect Eglinton West from losing its African, Black, and Caribbean character, identity and roots.
Too many prominent and historic small businesses have shuttered their doors due to rising rents, construction of the Province's Crosstown LRT project and, recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. The creeping gentrification that has led to Black displacement and cultural erasure over the past decades is expected to increase once the Crosstown opens unless action is taken now.
To help protect the Black character of Eglinton West, I moved a motion requesting the City’s Little Jamaica Interdivisional Team to look at the feasibility of limiting “chain” businesses from opening in the community. Similar measures have been successful at maintaining the historical sense of place and identity of neighbourhoods in US cities, including San Francisco.
This motion was created in partnership with BlackUrbanismTO, and is part of a larger strategy to support the retention and growth of Black-owned and operated businesses.
Vaccinating Homebound Seniors in Toronto-St. Paul’s with Sinai Health:
We can’t wait for seniors, particularly those in lower income buildings, homebound and with mobility challenges to get vaccinated. We need to go to where they are. That is why I partnered with Dr. Nathan Stall and his team from Sinai Health to deliver vaccines to seniors in neighbourhoods throughout Toronto-St.Paul’s. In our west end, thank you to the Executive Director- Lisa Tobio from the York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors and her team for providing outreach to our community’s seniors.
Unacceptable Violence at Encampment Clearings Must End
Like many of you, I was disturbed and saddened by the pictures and videos of violence and excessive force used during the encampment clearing at Lamport Stadium last week. It is unacceptable for vulnerable Torontonians and their advocates to be met with pepper spray, batons, and choke holds that led to broken bones, concussions, and other injuries.
I am also very concerned about the City’s unprecedented decision to ban journalists from covering the clearings and the arrest of two photojournalists. Thankfully, after considerable protest by news organizations, reporters were eventually allowed access to Lamport, but it is deeply troubling that City officials thought restricting journalists from a public park was acceptable.
Toronto has an unaffordable housing market and inadequate social supports for those experiencing homelessness. A tent in a park is obviously not the solution to providing permanent housing. However, forcibly and violently removing encampment residents inflicts further trauma on already vulnerable Torontonians and is simply not an effective means of addressing the issues we are trying to solve. This approach only pushes people out of one park and into another park, underneath a bridge, or onto a sidewalk or laneway.
Many people experiencing homelessness, and their advocates, have been telling the City that they do not feel safe in shelters. Many of them have been forced to share rooms with strangers, who are sometimes using drugs or are violent. Meals are inadequate or unhealthy and food is not allowed in rooms. Bed checks are conducted in the middle night not allowing for a consistent sleep. These are just some of the issues that the City must address if we want people to accept indoor shelter space.
That’s why I reached out to housing experts and advocates, and those with lived experience, to work on a motion at Council asking Staff to work with these groups to improve our shelter system. Despite having the support of City shelter staff, the Mayor and his allies defeated the motion.
In the wake of the Trinity-Bellwoods encampment clearing, over 200 community organisations, civic and faith leaders, musicians and writers wrote a letter to the Mayor Tory asking him to reconsider his approach and adopt a more humane path forward. Unfortunately the Mayor dismissed this request. Hopefully he is ready to listen after the terrible events of last week.
Please click here to see my recent interview on CP24 for more information.
Federal Government Commits $1 Million Dollars to Revitalize Little Jamaica
Last week, I was delighted to join Ministers Melanie Joly and Carolyn Bennett to announce a $19 million dollar investment to help with the Toronto's economic recovery. $1 million dollars of this new investment has be provided to the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA), which will allocate money to 40 Black and Caribbean-owned businesses in Little Jamaica. This will meaningfully be able to provide many Black-owned and operated businesses in our community the support that they've been needing for years. For more details, please read this article here.
Addressing Antisemitism in Our Community
Recently, a pair of antisemitic hate crimes occurred in our city, one of which took place close to home in Toronto-St. Paul's. The heinous actions of the perpetrator are unconscionable and unacceptable. I stand against this vile hatred in any capacity that it rears its ugly head.
On behalf of our community, I have and will continue to be an ardent voice against hatred. As I stated during the rise of hate crimes earlier this year, antisemitism has absolutely no place in our community or our city as a whole.
If I can ever be of support to you, please feel welcome to email me at [email protected]. If you, or someone you know witnesses or experiences a hate crime, this is a criminal matter. Do not hesitate to report these actions to the Toronto Police Services Hate Crime Unit at 416-808-3500.
Supporting Small Businesses & Creating Vibrant Main Streets: CafeTO Kicks Off Toronto’s Summer Season
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 and restaurants are working to protect our health and safety, let’s shop and eat local to support them. We need our main streets to survive this pandemic. I welcome you to check out the shops and patios in the many Business Improvement Areas on my website here!
Vacant Home Tax Approved at Council
After years of discussion and study, Toronto followed Vancouver’s lead in applying a 1% vacant home tax. The goal of the program is to change the behaviours of homeowners who leave their homes unoccupied – compelling them to sell or rent them out to increase the housing supply or pay a tax to keep them vacant. This is a significant problem in the condo market which has seen investors buy units with sole intention to flip the unit in a short timeframe without any intention of living in it or renting it out. I am also hopeful that this tool will assist in encouraging property owners who have left homes vacant and derelict in our neighbourhoods to either revitalize them or put them back on the market.
A final report and tax bylaw will be prepared for Council’s review by the end of 2021
Motion Approved to Build New Playground at Davisville Public School/Spectrum Alternative
I am happy to report that Council approved my motion this month to support the new Davisville Public School/Spectrum Alternative with $85,000 that I was able to secure through a development for a playground. The playground will be used for the school during weekdays and have community access during evenings and weekends.
I look forward to working with Trustee Laskin and the Davisville/Spectrum parent community this fall to create a wonderful new play area for our children.
A Little Jamaica Summer Staple: Afro-Caribbean Farmer’s Market
While I’m focusing on the future of Little Jamaica, Lori Beazer (organizer of the Afro-Caribbean Farmer’s Market), the York-Eglinton BIA and I have been working together to transform the parking lot at 1531 Eglinton Avenue West (Oakwood Avenue & Eglinton Avenue West) into a vibrant animated food space, and cultural food hub that forms a collective platform for sharing food and exchanging food culture with the community.
Through select imported food from the Caribbean and Africa, alongside a curated group of lifestyle items made by local food artisans, such as freshly baked bread, juices, desserts and sauces/jams, people will gather at this “town square” each Sunday starting July 4th to October 3rd from 11:00am-3:00pm.
While the market’s focus is to elevate racialized farmers alongside food-producers in densely urbanized neighbourhoods, it will also feature its own market currency called Callaloo Cash, which is a program that aims to subsidize and limit financial barriers for people with low incomes. For further details on the Caribbean Farmer's Market, please click here. I hope to see you soon!
Accountability for Developers Providing Affordable Rental Units
In the midst of Toronto’s affordable housing crisis, I was shocked and disgusted to learn that the CEO of CreateTO, the City’s development agency, was caught working with a developer to offer affordable housing units to his well-paid employees and members of his own family. These units were secured in a condo on Yonge Street, near Eglinton, by the City under section 111 of the provincial Planning Act which allows a municipality to require a developer to replace any rental units that are demolished in the construction of a new building. Further, the replaced units must be offered at the same, affordable rent even if the previous tenant opts not to take the unit in the new building.
Thankfully, this scheme was stopped by a whistleblower who took the story to the Toronto Star. In the wake of the scandal, however, our office was informed by multiple sources that this was not an isolated incident. Several people have asserted that developers will routinely ignore their obligations to provide rental replacement units to those in need and, instead, offer them to friends, family members, or business associates.
That’s why I’m pleased that my motion to have the Auditor General investigate the matter was approved unanimously at Council this month. It’s vitally important to ensure that there is a process going forward that ensures these affordable units go to those in need and assess whether the thousands of apartments that have already been secured are occupied by the right people. I will provide an update when the AG reports on the matter. For more information on ensuring accountability for developers providing affordable rental units, please see this article.
Toronto-St Paul’s Farmer’s Markets
Toronto-St. Paul's is lucky to have a variety of wonderful farmer’s markets across our ward and serving our neighbourhoods. Join me at the markets listed below to see friends, neighbours and buy fresh produce and other food. See you there!
AppleTree’s Davisville Farmer’s Market: Every Tuesday between 3:00pm and 7:00pm at June Rowlands Park.
AppleTree’s Midtown Market: Every Thursday between 3:00pm and 7:00pm at Yorkminster Park Church
Eglinton Way Farmer’s Market: Every Sunday from 8:00am to 1:00am at 125 Burnaby Blvd.
The Stop Farmer’s Market at Wychwood Barns: Every Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30pm at 601 Christie Street (Wychwood Barns)
Afro-Caribbean Farmers' Market: Every Sunday from 11:00am to 3:00pm at 1531 Eglinton Avenue West
Fairbank Park Construction Update
I am deeply concerned about Toronto Water's plans to use a large section of Fairbanks Park for several years due to the construction of the Fairbank-Silverthorn Storm System. I met recently with senior City Staff, and community representative Lisa Tobio of the York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors, where I learned that the direction for this project was approved several years ago at the request of former Councillor Palacio.
Lisa and I are actively engaging City Staff to request that they mitigate the impact on Fairbank Park for the tunnelling project: namely that they decrease the footprint, and investigate what community benefits they could provide the neighbourhood. I am asking that the City and Toronto Water to do everything possible to balance the needs of the project with the need for our community to access Fairbank memorial park.
If you would like to be kept updated, please email me at [email protected] to be added to a distribution list.
Oakwood Village BIA'S Roots & Routes Discovery Trail
I'm proud to have worked closely with the Oakwood Village BIA to animate and beautify Oakwood Avenue with the works of MUSE Arts- Indigenous/Latin American artists. Thank you to Chair, Jeff Peters and Coordinator, Aadila Valiallah for their hard work and dedication.
Addressing and Combating Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty
As we have all seen over the last week with haze hanging over the city from forest fires across the country, Climate Change is here. Whether its forest fires, flooding from intense storms, or sweltering heatwaves, our community and our city must do everything in its power to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change. I appreciate all of your communications, emails, and letters urging me to vote for Toronto to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
I was proud to vote in favour of this motion at City Council on July 13th. A just and peaceful transition for all workers and communities, maintaining global warming rates within the 1.5 degrees goal set out by the Paris Climate Accord, and ceasing all further exploration for further fossil fuel consumption are key aspects to ensuring we are leaving a better world for future generations. As someone who has spent nearly all his professional career working with, around, and for environmental organisations, I have been keenly aware of the growing climate crisis and the dire need to take action at all levels of government.
If you have any further questions about what our office and the city is doing to ensure a sustainable and liveable future in the face of the climate crisis, please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected]. My team and I will be more than happy to continue the dialogue about ways to make Toronto-St. Paul’s a liveable, sustainable, and safe community.
Barrie Tornado Recovery
As many of you know, a tornado touched down in the south end of Barrie last week. Many homes were destroyed and several people were injured. While there has been an outpouring of support from the community, no on-site donations, including food, are being accepted. However, monetary donations to the tornado recovery process can be made by clicking here.
Women's Cycling Network Bike Match Program
Guyana Disaster Relief
Since mid-May 2021, Guyana has been experiencing higher than normal levels of rainfall across the country. This has led to what is being described in the local media as “the worst flooding ever seen”. Carifika Canada has organized a GoFundMe page to support the communities across Guyana. Every little bit counts.
TGIP and FHC Diabetes Prevention and Management Program
Getting To Net Zero: City Invites Residents to Have Their Say on Climate Action Priorities
The City of Toronto is inviting residents to share their ideas on climate actions and priorities to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Toronto to net zero by 2050, or sooner. Input from residents will help inform the City’s TransformTO Net Zero strategy, which will be presented to Council later this year.
In 2019, Council declared a climate emergency, committed to accelerate Toronto’s climate action, and adopted a stronger emissions reduction target for Toronto: net zero by 2050 or sooner. The main sources of GHG emissions in Toronto are homes and buildings, transportation and waste.
Starting today to Monday, July 26, residents can provide their input on proposed climate actions and priorities by:
- completing an online survey
- hosting their own virtual community conversation with the support of a discussion guide (available in multiple languages)
- contributing to an online idea-sharing board
Residents are encouraged to watch a short video that explains Toronto’s net zero target and proposed climate actions before providing their input. The video, online survey and resources to support community discussions on climate action are available here.
In 2018, GHG emissions in Toronto were 37 per cent lower than they were in 1990. Toronto residents, business and government must work together to cut emissions in half in the next 10 years to meet the City’s 2030 GHG reduction target and stay on track to reach net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.
Online Kids Art Program
Oakwood-Vaughan | August 1-21, 2021
Looking for something fun to do this summer with your kids? OV Explorers is an online art program about looking at your neighbourhood and drawing places that are meaningful to you.
Made for kids ages 7-11 living in the Oakwood-Vaughan community, the program aims to help kids get to know the community where they live in a new way through drawing. Your child will get a free drawing kit to use to draw and write about meaningful places at home, then display a favourite drawing at the library.
For more information and to register, email [email protected]. We’ve extended the deadline to sign up. It’s now July 26th. This project is supported through Toronto Arts Council Strategic Funding. It is produced in partnership with the Oakwood Village branch of the Toronto Public Library.
VOLUNTEER POSITION-Board Member: West Toronto Community Legal Services
"West Toronto Community Legal Services (WTCLS) is a community-based legal aid clinic and housing help service provider serving low-income people in Toronto’s west end. Areas of law currently practiced include tenants’ rights and housing, social assistance and disability, immigration, and employment law. WTCLS is also actively engaged in a range of public legal education and community engagement activities.
WTCLS is seeking a volunteer(s) to join its Board of Directors. As a member of the Board, the successful candidate(s) must prepare for and attend Board meetings nine times a year and serve on one of our Board Committees (Governance, Finance, or Human Resources). The time commitment is about 6-8 hours per month.
Candidates must be committed to serving the needs of low-income people and families. Knowledge of the community, of the legal clinic system, or of housing issues in the City is an asset. Preference will be given to people living within the clinic's catchment area (south of St. Clair, west of Yonge, east of the Humber River) and who reflect the communities that we serve.
We have identified that our Board would benefit from one or more of the following:
- Persons with lived experience of poverty
- Persons with knowledge of community partner agencies and stakeholder groups
- Persons with expertise in finance and/or human resources
Email your resume to [email protected] before July 31, 2021. Tell us about your experience with and/or interest in our organization and the skills and knowledge you would bring to our Board. Please include your contact information with email address (preferred) and/or phone number where you can be reached. Members of historically disadvantaged groups are particularly encouraged to apply. Please advise if you require any accommodations during the application process."