Councillor Matlow's Community and City Hall Update: Winter II

Tuesday, March 3rd is “Shop Eglinton Day"
You’re invited to join me and Councillor Mike Colle this coming Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020, 11:00am at Jerusalem Restaurant (955 Eglinton Ave. W.) as we proclaim March 3rd "Shop Eglinton Day"! Ontario's Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney has been invited to join us along with local residents, business owners and BIAs to have lunch. Following lunch, we’ll go on a “shop and walk” along Eglinton Avenue West to visit the small business owners impacted by the Province's Crosstown LRT project and to help the Minister of Transportation learn about the support they need to survive the two year delay announced by Metrolinx. The shop and walk will begin at Jerusalem Restaurant and continue west along Eglinton Avenue, ending at Oakwood Avenue and Eglinton Avenue West. Please come out to support our local businesses. We hope to see you there!

Councillor Josh Matlow's Community and City Hall Update: Season's Greetings

Season's Greetings!

Is the Mayor's Housing Plan providing value for money? Mayor Tory should be applauded for recognizing that providing more affordable housing is necessary to ensure that Toronto remains an inclusive city that supports our diverse and vibrant residents. With out of control rents, crumbling social housing, and far too many Torontonians in shelters or on the streets, there is no doubt that we are in the midst of a crisis. I supported the HousingTO 2020-30 Action Plan because we need to move forward as quickly as possible to repair TCHC buildings and build new affordable housing. However, there are questions remaining as to whether the Mayor's strategy to build new housing allows the City to build the most units with the resources we have available. The Action Plan builds new units by offering a combination of City land, tax breaks, and the elimination of Development Charges to encourage the private sector to build housing in mixed developments. This allows the City to have affordable units built with no upfront payment and allows the Mayor to announce new housing without raising tax dollars for that purpose – The City Building Fund, mentioned below, will be used for transit and repairing social housing, not building new units. Perhaps the Mayor's plan is the way forward. But Council has not been provided with evidence to back up that claim. With the support of Council, I asked the City Manager to provide a Value for Money assessment of this approach over a year ago but unfortunately that report has yet to be delivered. During the debate, I moved a motion requesting that this assessment be completed in the new year before we moved forward with the plan. However, this time, the Mayor did not support having that review completed. I don't know whether the Mayor's housing plan makes sense. I hope it does. But there is no evidence that other options were studied. Even the land valuations for the properties we are providing to developers have not been made public. What I do know is that the revenue lost in property tax and development charge giveaways will have to be made up in the future with a tax hike or service cuts. What I do know is that a few other major cities around the world are taking this approach to building affordable housing. That leaves me with a lot of questions. I assure you I will keep looking for the answers and support creating opportunities to make Toronto more affordable.

Councillor Matlow's Community and City Hall Update: Fall III

Protecting Tenants’ Health, Safety and Quality of Life: Toronto’s RentSafe Program Strengthened Leaking roofs, stained carpets, non-functioning elevators, and pest infestations are far too common for renters in Toronto. Some landlords have ignored City orders to fix their properties for years with little consequence; they treat the small fines as the cost of doing business, drag out performing the repairs through appeals, and are even granted time extensions. The system certainly doesn’t give tenants the same leniency when their rent is due. Working with ACORN, the Federation of Metro Tenants' Associations (FMTA), and community legal clinics, I initiated the RentSafe program, approved by Council in 2017, to address the poor living conditions that far too many tenants are facing. When the program was approved, it was one of the most comprehensive, progressive, and rigorous municipal tenant protection initiatives in North America. However, the City has yet to deliver on many crucial measures that Council promised to the 50% of our residents that rent their homes. The following initiatives to protect tenants have not been implemented:

Councillor Josh Matlow's Community & City Hall Updates: Fall II

Tonight's Pumpkin Parades I welcome you to join me and my family at two pumpkin parades this evening. To check out the parade happening at Wychwood Barns Park (south of the splash pad), I welcome you to arrive with your pumpkin and its candle at 6:00pm. If you're available to swing-by Davisville's pumpkin parade happening at June Rowlands Park, please arrive by 6:30pm. Let's celebrate Halloween for one more night together!

Councillor Matlow's Community and City Hall Update: Fall I

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur To those celebrating in our Jewish community, I wish you a Shanah Tovah and a meaningful fast this Yom Kippur!

Declaration of Climate Emergency a Step in the Right Direction:Last week, many Midtown residents joined thousands of Torontonians in the Climate Strike march downtown. Many of us have been inspired by the dedication, passion and sense of urgency demonstrated by Greta Thunberg and millions of young people across the globe over the past year. But addressing climate change should never have required youth to rise up to get adults to act. We can't let future generations down any longer. That's why I was pleased to support Mayor Tory and Councillor Layton's motion declaring a climate emergency on behalf of City Council. The declaration was supported by a number of positive actions that seek to accelerate and enhance the City's climate action plan (TransformTO), including:

Councillor Matlow's Community and City Hall Update: Summer II

Council Approves Tenants First Report: An Important Milestone in Transforming Toronto Community Housing

I'm happy to report that City Council approved the Tenants First Implementation Plan, which will create better living conditions and experiences for seniors in senior-designated buildings and tenants of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCH) while ensuring their homes are safe and well maintained.

Councillor Matlow's Community and City Hall Update: Summer I

UPDATE: Save Our Subway!  In a report to Council this week, the City Manager provided an update on the negotiations with the province over the subway upload. I have previously expressed my concerns to you and Council about the efficacy of sitting at the table with a government that has already, and unilaterally, announced the outcome. Unfortunately, the Mayor and a majority of Council have voted to continue to negotiate with a proven bad faith actor. Along with uploading the subway, the province has already indicated that they are also uploading the TTC's associated assets including land and air-rights. This will directly jeopardize our approved plans to better utilize those assets for City priorities including parks, public squares, affordable housing, and built forms that respect our Official Plan. In the Council meeting, Staff confirmed that the new provincial plans will likely result in further delays in starting construction on transit projects. The province's Ontario Line, which is purportedly to run between the Science Centre and Ontario Place, is only at 2% design while the City's Relief line is at 15%. Further, the province has yet to even share what the new technology is that they are proposing. In Scarborough, the province's plan to revert back to a 3-stop plan, already deemed to be "not a worthwhile use of money"  by Metrolinx, will likely result in the subway extension not being opened until 2030. The current Scarborough RT is expected to reach the end of its useful life by 2026, leaving local residents on the bus. If we moved forward now with a 24-stop LRT network for Scarborough, it could still be completed faster and serve more residents at a lower cost. Of further concern, City Staff appear to be advancing ideas that have not been approved by Council. As this article in the Toronto Star notes, City negotiators have floated the idea of a 4-stop subway in Scarborough. The article further reveals that City officials have been working on this plan for a number of years in secret. I intend to find out how this disregard for Council process occurred. For further information on delays to transit projects caused by provincial meddling, please see this article.

Councillor Matlow's Community and City Hall Update for Mid-May, 2019

Provincial Cuts Equal $177.65 million download to City of Toronto

Premier Doug Ford has continued his devastating cuts on Toronto. A report from our City Manager at this week's Council meeting estimated the pressure on the City of Toronto's already-approved 2019 Budget from Ford's actions to be $177.65 million. The cuts include:

  • $84.8 million for Children's Services (Childcare)

  • $65 million for Toronto Public Health

  • $24 million from the cancellation of planned Provincial Gas Tax Funding

  • $3.85 million for Toronto Paramedic Services

It is important to note that the above figures represent pro-rated reductions in funding for 2019. The province has provided information on the long-term plans for some of the funding. Notably, Toronto's Public Health Budget will be reduced by $1 Billion over the next 10 years as the province moves to a 50-50 cost-sharing arrangement, making Ontario the only province to not fund 100% of public health costs. Some of the programs that will be at risk due to the public health cuts include:

  • Over 600 Student Nutrition (school breakfast programs)

  • Restaurant inspection programs (Dine Safe Toronto)

  • Dental clinics and programs that identify dental disease in students

  • Overdose prevention programs

  • Sexual health clinics

  • Clinics that prevent the spread of diseases (like measles and hepatitis)

  • Outbreak management in care facilities like our long term care homes

  • Emergency preparation and response to life-threatening outbreaks and hazards (like chemical spills) and detection and response to public health threats (like SARS and H1N1)

  • Daycare safety inspections

  • Diabetes prevention

  • Prenatal programs

  • Preschool speech and language programs as well as infant hearing loss programs

  • Bed bug identification and prevention

  • Inspection of pools, beaches, and water quality testing

Many of these programs quite literally save lives, and all of them make Toronto a healthier, safer, and more livable city. I commend Mayor Tory and Chair of the Public Health Board, Councillor Joe Cressy for leading the fight against Premier Ford to try and reverse these cuts.

Councillor Matlow's Community and City Hall Update for May, 2019

City Council Unanimously Supports Changing the Culture in Toronto's Long-Term Care Homes: More Caring, Respectful and Supportive

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-centred approaches to care that will meet the diverse and complex needs of residents.

Councillor Josh Matlow's Community And City Hall Update For April, 2019

Exploring Partnerships to Create a Vibrant & Sustainable Community Hub at the former Vaughan Road Academy (529 Vaughan Rd.): The Oakwood Vaughan neighbourhood is a remarkable neighborhood full of promise. However, it also continues to be an under-served and under-resourced neighbourhood. There is a lack of City programs and community spaces to address the needs of the community. Vaughan Road Academy, located at 529 Vaughan Road, is a public high school under the jurisdiction of the Toronto District School Board. While no longer an operating school, the Toronto District School Board voted in February 2017 to retain the building as a core holding, and put it to use for purposes still to-be-negotiated. Currently, the school is being used as an overflow school to accommodate students from other schools that are under construction, such as Davisville. A community based resident organization, Oakwood Vaughan Neighbourhood Action Partnership (OVNAP), has been engaged in discussions to convert the Vaughan Road Academy property into a community hub where, while still under ownership of the Toronto District School Board, the building would house a number of diverse programs and community services accessible to the public. Parks, Forestry and Recreation offers swimming lessons and basketball programs at Vaughan Road Academy and the Learning Enrichment Foundation operates a child care centre on the site. During this week's City Council meeting, I moved a motion that was unanimously adopted to work with the appropriate City Divisions and Agencies, Toronto District School Board representatives, Oakwood Vaughan Neighbourhood Action Partnership, and other appropriate community groups to identify opportunities for creating a vibrant and safe neighborhood supported by a community hub at the Vaughan Road Academy that could help meet the needs of local residents. A community hub at Vaughan Road Academy would help address the need for programming and space in this community and would align with the City's Oakwood Vaughan Strategic Plan. The Plan, adopted by the Community Development and Recreation Committee in May 2015, addresses neighbourhood issues of high unemployment, petty crime and lack of economic development.

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