Happy Lunar New Year!
For those that are celebrating the Lunar New Year this month, I wish you and your family health, happiness and prosperity. May we all embody the strength and vitality of the tiger to guide us through this time!
Celebrating Black History Month
Every February, people across Canada participate in Black History Month events and festivities that honour the legacy of Black Canadians and their communities. The 2022 theme for Black History Month is: “February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day,” which focuses on recognizing the daily contributions that Black Canadians make to Canada.
Our community's NIA Centre for the Arts is hosting a BlackThen, BlackNow, BlackFutures event all month long! To check out the event line-up, please click here.
As our community's representative, I brought forward a comprehensive motion to council to support the future of Little Jamaica. I look forward to working with the project lead, Jay Pitter, on advancing our community's sustainability plan. We must continue to support the retention and growth of Black-owned and operated businesses, while celebrating the identity, and showcasing the resiliency of the African, Black and Caribbean communities.
Please also join us for an online celebration of Toronto Black history, art and culture on Thursday February24th at 7pm. Click here to register.
Small Shops, Big Hearts
I am proud to say that Toronto-St. Paul’s is the home to so many wonderful businesses, shops and restaurants that serve our local community. These establishments are what makes our neighbourhood the bustling and varied scene it is, and right now, they need our support. Whether it's shopping at your local grocer or simply getting takeout at your favourite restaurant, let's help our small businesses thrive.
311 – Toronto at Your Service (Now on the App Store and Google Play)
I'm happy to announce that City Hall has finally arrived in the 21st century and Toronto residents can now reach 311 more easily than ever: the 311 Toronto app is available for download on App Store & Google Play. Now, at the tip of your fingers, you'll be able to report issues directly to the City of Toronto from your phone. It's easy and convenient!
A More Proactive Community Safety Plan Approved by Council
Last week, Council approved the implementation strategy for SafeTO, Toronto's Ten Year Community Safety and Well-being Plan. The strategy provides a roadmap to move forward with actions to address complex challenges by reimagining core elements of community safety and well-being to shift from a reliance on reactive emergency response to a culture of prevention.
To pursue this vision, City Council adopted a comprehensive long-term plan that aims to:
Demanding Accountability: SmartTrack Numbers Inflated by City Staff
The Toronto Star’s Ben Spurr reported last week that Senor City bureaucrats knowingly included inflated ridership statistics that made SmartTrack look better than it is in a report to Council. The numbers included elevated numbers of jobs, residents, low-income, and overall riders served by the proposed transit stations.
SmartTrack, originally billed as a 22 stop “surface subway” by Mayor Tory has been whittled down to 5 additional GO Stations run by the province. The inflated numbers appeared in a January 2021 report to Council as a result of the mistaken inclusion by a Transportation Planner of a sixth station at Spadina, that was no longer part of SmartTrack. When alerted to this mistake, the Deputy City Manager and the Head of the City’s Transit Expansion Office gave the order to proceed with the report with the incorrect numbers included.
This incident represents a significant breach of trust. It is vitally important for the proper functioning of our municipal system that elected officials receive accurate information before making decisions on the public’s behalf. In this case, Council voted to approve a transit plan worth over $1 billion based on incorrect information. That’s unacceptable and not the first time questions have been raised about the accuracy of staff reports regarding large transit project.
I will take further action to determine how this breach of trust could occur and put measures in place so that it never happens again. I will be sure to update you as this issue progresses.
Fighting for Better Snow Clearing Across Our City
The snowstorm on January 17th, 2022 dumped an unprecedented amount of snow on our city, and in much of Southern Ontario and the Northeastern United States, with 55 centimetres falling on Toronto in just over 16 hours.
In the days after the storm there were inevitable obstacles in clearing the sheer amount of snow that had fallen. However, by the end of the week, too many local streets were still impassible here in midtown and in North York, Scarborough, East York, Etobicoke and downtown. Sidewalks and parking in front of long-term care homes left many seniors and caregivers homebound. Pick-up/drop-off areas and sidewalks around schools left many students and parents with no choice but to walk in live lanes of traffic to and from school.
Moreover, as 311 opened for service requests four days after the storm, many residents reported getting mixed messages either saying that a service request could not be filed as crews hadn't started snow clearing on their street or having their service requests closed with no action or explanation at all.
Adding to the frustration, was the city's constant reference to the PlowTO map that purported to give real-time data on the progress of clearing and salting operations. However, as many logged on to the map, residents were shocked to find that the city had already marked their street as cleared, only to look out their window and see a completely different reality on the ground.
In addition to this, the City's snow communications primarily focused on boasting about the tons of snow removed, rather than acknowledging and actively working to resolve the concerns that residents shared via 311 or through my office. Hearing the mayor and City of Toronto staff boast at a press conference about how many tons of snow have been removed means nothing to a resident whose sidewalk or local roads remain impassible and doesn't accurately depict the variety of challenges that many have observed with city operations.
With my office receiving 700+ correspondences over email and phone, I personally reached out directly to the General Manager of Transportation Services, Barbara Gray, to request action on each and every one of the many streets and sidewalks that remained unclear.
While Mayor Tory submitted a letter to the Executive Committee calling for a post-operational report on various City Divisions reaction and handling of the major snow event, I believed that it did not go far enough to address to the very real and underlying problems that many were experiencing in the moment, and failed to focus on specific priorities.
That is why at last week's City Council meeting, I moved a motion that asked City Staff to provide a strategy that would focus on timeliness and quality of clearing/removal services, the prioritization of Community Safety Zones, impacts on access to public transit and bus/streetcar shelters, windrow clearing, and how to improve the data displayed on the PlowTO Map website. Moreover, I requested City Staff provide an immediate strategy to finally get every last sidewalk and street cleared. To read more about my motion, please click here.
The service standards the City of Toronto provides for snow clearing and removal isn't good enough. I also believe residents deserve accountability and answers to exactly what went wrong. I plan to pursue these questions at the appropriate City Hall committees, and meanwhile, I'll continue to escalate any streets and sidewalks that remain uncleared to the General Manager of Transportation Services who is responsible to the success of these operations.
My Motion to Expand Oriole Park JPS Community Safety Zone Approved!
Nothing is more important than the safety of our kids! That is why I have always prioritized safety around school zones each time concerns have been brought directly to my attention. Over the past years, I have held periodic traffic safety meetings with the Oriole Park Association (OPA), the Oriole Park JPS school council, and City staff to brainstorm ways of continuing to improve safety for our kids, as the latter go to and from school in view of changing traffic patterns and increasingly reckless and irresponsible driver behavior. At these meetings, it emerged that walking patterns to and from the Oriole Park JPS have substantially changed, with many kids now accessing the school by either having to walk along the very busy and unsafe Avenue Road, particularly the section between Eglinton Ave West, and Chaplin Crescent, or having to cross it at some point.
To this end, I moved a motion at City Council last week requesting that the said section of Avenue Road be designated as a Community Safety Zone. I'm happy to announce that my motion was adopted. With this designation comes automated speed enforcement, doubling of fines for speeding, some pedestrian improvements, and enhanced signage. My office will be following up with staff to ensure that the timelines for the delivery of these safety features are strictly adhered to.
I'm grateful to the OPA, Principal Quimby, Trustee Laskin, and the Oriole Park JPS school council for their support in seeing this through!
CareTO: Investing in Our Seniors Through Emotion-Centered Approaches to 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. Following this, in December 2019, City Council unanimously adopted Seniors Services and Long-Term Care (SSLTC) Division's recommendations to 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.
After three years, SSLTC is now requesting City Council's support in the 2022 budget to expand its emotion-centred care initiative, known as CareTO, across all 10 of its homes. This new approach fundamentally increases the attention and support that its residents are given by ensuring the hours of care each resident receives daily, increases from 2.75 to 3.25 hours, has a renewed focus on training to ensure staff have the skills to provide culturally responsive emotion-centered care and creates more home-like environments.
As Toronto's Seniors Advocate, I couldn't be more proud of this work. Neighbouring cities and provinces should take note as Toronto moves forward to becoming a North American leader in long-term care. In my next e-newsletter, I'll be sure to update you on the outcome of my advocacy during the City's 2022 budget process.
Development Updates: 10-32 Raglan Avenue and 63-91 Montclair Avenue.
10-32 Raglan Avenue
I would like to thank to everyone who attended the meeting that I co-hosted with City Planning in the fall of 2020 regarding the proposed development at 10-32 Raglan Avenue, as well as the dedicated residents who participated in the Stakeholder Advisory Committee meetings that I subsequently hosted. For more information on this development and on how to be involved in the process, please click here.
63-91 Montclair Avenue
I would like to thank to everyone who attended the meeting I hosted on January 20th regarding the proposed settlement at the provincial Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT), to ensure you were informed about the status of the application, and that your voice was heard. Please click here for more details, a recording of the meeting, and for more information on how to stay involved in the process.
A Place to Grow Old? Ontario's Long-Term Care System Needs Transformational Change
Today, the National Institute on Ageing (NIA) published my commentary that I co-wrote with NIA Director of Health Policy Research and my co-chair of the Toronto's Seniors Strategy Accountability Table, Dr. Samir Sinha. In our commentary, we call for transformational change that is needed to ensure that Ontario can provide people with the highest quality of care and standards of safety no matter way they wish to age. To read more, please click here.
COVID-19 Vaccines: Walk-Ins Available!
City Immunization Clinics are now accepting walk-in visits for COVID-19 vaccinations, while continuing with booked appointments. Please visit this website to learn more.
Toronto-St. Paul's COVID-19 Vaccine Initiatives
In January, I co-hosted a vaccine clinic with York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors, Sinai Health, Women's College and Toronto Public Health. We reached over a 100+ residents and children. Thank you to Lisa Tobio, Executive Director of York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors, and the Centre’s volunteers for their help!
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 Dr. Adil Shamji to deliver vaccines to seniors in neighbourhoods throughout Toronto-St. Paul’s.
Recognizing International Holocaust Day
On January 27th, my office and I honoured International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this occasion, let’s take a stand against antisemitism together. By remembering, we ensure the horrors of the past are never repeated or forgotten.
City of Toronto Budget and Community Town Hall 2022– February 15th at 6:30pm
You're invited to virtually join me and the City’s Executive Director of Financial Planning at a budget town hall to discuss the proposed 2022 City of Toronto budget. I look forward to hearing your feedback in order to adequately represent you, and our community priorities, when I vote on our behalf. For information on participating in the meeting, please click here.
If you would like more information on the proposed 2022 City of Toronto Budget in advance of my Town Hall meeting, please click here.
In remembrance of Rosa Cozzi
When I learned of the passing of Rosa Cozzi, I was truly saddened that our community had lost one of its members and friend. Rosa and Dom, her husband, have been grocers at Arlington & Tyrell for over 50 years. Their store, Tyrrel Grocery, and their warm welcomes, have been at the heart of Hillcrest and a landmark of the neighbourhood. My heartfelt condolences to Rosa’s family and many friends.
Animating Space Through Public Art: Graham Park
Our team has been working closely with members from stART (StreetARToronto) and community member, Julian Back, to beautify our park! Our goal is to bring you a more vibrant and animated space through public art.
I would like to hear from you. What kind themes and art do you envision for our space? Are there designs and graphics, for instance hopscotch, you'd like to see on the concrete pad? What are your thoughts about a mesh fence installation (demonstrated in the photos below)?
Let me know how we can enliven the park for both children and adults alike. Please write to us at [email protected] and share your ideas. I look forward to hearing from you all by February 22nd.
George Hislop Park Fence Project - StreetARToronto in Partnership with Parks Forestry and Recreation -2020; Photographer Hitoshi Murakami; Artists Curtia Wright, Julia Prajza/Jarus, Keitha-Keeshig-Tobias
New Park at 44 Jackes! Rescheduled Public Meeting
I want to thank you all for your patience while this public meeting for the new park at 44 Jackes was rescheduled. Understandably, given the constraints that were implemented in January, we had to adapt to new protocols and postpone our meeting. I'm pleased to announce that we'll be co-hosting this meeting on Thursday, February 24 at 6:30pm. We have some new revised plans to share with you all and I look forward to hearing your feedback that evening.
For more information as to how to register, please click this link here.
Davisville Community and Aquatic Centre Update:
I'm delighted to announce that we've heard from 700+ respondents for the survey on the draft design of the new Community and Aquatic Centre. The design team will be looking into revisions that incorporate all your feedback into the refined final design.
In the meantime, please take a look here to review the summary reports from the survey under "Project Updates" and get an idea of what our many community members have suggested. Thank you for your input!
For Youth Initiative (FYI): A Better You Youth Program
A Better You is a 4-week program that aims to support Black and racialized youth between the ages of 12-17 who have been struggling with their mental health during this time. Discussion topics will range from emotional regulation to healthy relationships to social skills. Each session will include a variety of fun and interactive activities. These activities will assist youth to cultivate a positive self-image and learn coping techniques to manage their mental health. Participants will receive a $50.00 e-gift card, bus tickets, a hot meal, and more.
A Better you will be in person and because of capacity, spots are limited. Priority will be given to youth living in/ going to school in the Vaughan-Oakwood community. COVID-19 safety measures will be implemented. Registration form here.
March Break Fun: CampTO Registration Now Open
Check Out the Outdoor Rink at Wychood Barns Park
I'm proud and grateful to our dedicated community members who made the outdoor rink at Wychwood Barns Park possible. Thank you to all our friends who tirelessly flood and clear the rink for all of us to enjoy, and for those that are visiting the farmers market, please spend a moment to take it all in.
The Stop’s Farmer’s Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns
Come visit and shop with our amazing indoor and outdoor vendors at the beloved Wychwood Barns Farmers’ Market (located at 601 Christie Street). You can find them every Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30pm, year round, to enjoy all their offerings and local products!
Frozen Pipes Prevention
Toronto Water is running its annual public education campaign to remind everyone of the hazards of frozen pipes. Please remember it can leave you with no water or cause your pipes to burst. Throughout February, Toronto Water will be running a campaign to advise everyone on preventative measures to stop drinking water pipes in homes from freezing, and also, how to thaw water pipes if they are suspected to be frozen. If you'd like to learn more about preventing or thawing frozen pipes, please visit at www.toronto.ca/frozenpipes.
Consultations on Reducing Single-Use & Takeaway Items
Have your say on how to reduce single-use and takeaway items in the City of Toronto. Take the online survey today!
A single-use or takeaway item is any product designed for a single use after which it is disposed of in the garbage, Blue Bin (recycling) or Green Bin (organics). Typically, these products are not designed for durability or reuse. Examples include checkout bags and beverage cups.
Your feedback will help to inform a report that will be considered by the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in spring 2022. This report will present the final proposed Single-Use and Takeaway Items Reduction Strategy Stage 2 mandatory measures (e.g., a fee or "ask-first/by-request" bylaw), additional items to be addressed through the strategy, and timelines.
You can also participate in one of the virtual consultation meetings. Register today using the links below.
If you are unable to attend one of the virtual meetings or complete the online survey, you can provide feedback by emailing us, leaving a message, or mailing us a letter: [email protected] | 416-392-3760. Waste Strategy Metro Hall, 55 John Street, 19th Floor Toronto, ON. M5V 3C6
A Thank You from Humewood House:
I am pleased to announce that the fundraising for the Humewood House Scholarship was a success! Our friends from Humewood has the following message to you all:
"We are sending you a big heart-felt thank you for generously supporting and sharing information about the 2021 Humewood Community Scholarship Fund that ended on December 31, 2021. On behalf of the Humewood neighbourhood, we wish to express our profound appreciation for your part in helping young mothers to pursue their education. As a community, we exceeded our wildest expectations and raised $8,200 for the fund! 100% of the funds will be distributed to eligible applicants, clients of the Humewood Campus of the Massey Centre (Humewood House at 40 Humewood Drive), who will be selected in spring 2022 for the next academic year.
Of special note, this year we broadened our fundraising efforts, reaching out to: St. Matthew’s United Church, and to the communities served by both MPP Jill Andrew, and City Councillor Josh Matlow’s through their newsletters. We would also like to thank Ashley Carambalas, Resource Development Coordinator from Massey House, who supported us in developing the fundraising website for this year’s campaign.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all the members of the community who helped to make the Scholarship Fund such a massive success because now, more than ever, we know it takes a village!"