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.
Toronto City Council adopted the Toronto Public Art Strategy 2020-2030: Creativity and Community Everywhere to champion public art in city-building. By implementing this strategy, the City intends to make Toronto a global leader in public art.
The strategy seeks to extend the benefits of public art city-wide and build on public art’s ability to advance broader city-building priorities such as equity and inclusion, environmental resiliency, and reconciliation with Indigenous communities.
The City of Toronto’s vision for public art is to promote new and innovative approaches to its creation, to tell stories that build and connect artists and communities to place, and to have artworks in every neighbourhood. Twenty-one actions are recommended in the strategy to advance public art across Toronto and heighten the impact of the City’s public art programs for residents and visitors. The Year of Public Art in 2021 will be the first major new programming initiative related to the strategy.
More than 1,500 works of public art can be found across Toronto – including works commissioned by the City and its agencies, developers, arts organizations, and business improvement areas. The City currently delivers three major public art programs: the City of Toronto Public Art and Monuments Collection, the Percent for Public Art Program and StreetARToronto. Together, these programs have had a major impact on the city’s urban fabric, assembling a collection of public art that, in the number of works alone, is of international significance. This new strategy builds on these strong foundations to enhance their collective impact.
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.
It was my great pleasure to join Philippine Consul General Orontes Castro for the reception of the Heart of the Season by Grupo Cinco. We have a remarkable Filipino community here in St. Paul’s and across our City that I’m delighted to support.
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.
It was a great pleasure to support and announce the return of the Iron Horse to the Kay Gardner Beltline Park Bridge, as a permanent public art installation, with the Midtown Yonge BIA! I hope you enjoy it!
I’m so thrilled that the Toronto Public Library is renovating our Wychwood Library! I ask that you take a few minutes to tell them about how you use the library now, and to share your ideas about what you would like to see in the newly renovated branch. Your input will help the Toronto Public Library develop spaces and services that best meet your needs and interests.
Please complete and submit this survey by December 31, 2019. It will take about five minutes to complete, and your responses will remain anonymous.
My daughter Molly and I enjoyed hearing author Melanie Florence read her book, Stolen Words at Mt. Pleasant’s magical independent bookstore, Mabel’s Fables for Carolyn Bennett’s 4th annual Indigenous reads event.
The Toronto Police Service Vulnerable Persons Registry is a voluntary database that provides important information to first responders about the issues that vulnerable members of the community might be coping with. The information in the database includes details such as specific behaviours officers might encounter, recommended de-escalation strategies and contact information for family members or other individuals who can provide support.
Dispatchers, police officers and other support personnel will then be able to access this information when they are interacting with the person. This leads to a better understanding of the causes for behaviours and provides officers with information about how to best assist the person. If, at any time, you wish to remove the information from the Vulnerable Persons Registry please do so by notifying the Toronto Police Service via the online portal.
I’m thrilled to announce that the sequin-filled tunnel at Yonge and St.Clair is coming back for the second holiday season in a row! The Tunnel of Glam is an 80-foot covered pedestrian walkway lined with over 14 million reversible sequins. Interactive and colourful, the tunnel represents the largest ever single use of the material, and will offer delight to families through the holiday season. The installation was commissioned by our very own Yonge + St. Clair BIA and designed by Studio F Minus. You can check out the Tunnel of Glam now through to January 6th from 7:00am to 11:00pm at 1501 Yonge St.
Unison Health and Community Services has opened a new location in Oakwood Vaughan, at 501 Oakwood Avenue. The clinic will be offering drop-in healthcare and counselling services for youth (aged 13 to 29 years) on Tuesdays from 1-8pm, Thursdays from 1-8pm and Saturday from 1:30-4:30pm. Health care services for all ages are also offered by appointment only. For more information and contact info, please click here.
I was thrilled to attend Hillcrest Village BIA’s Welcome Winter event. I welcome you to shop local in our Hillcrest neighborhood to support our local businesses.
Remember to join me all year long at The Stop Farmer’s Market at Wychwood Barns. The market takes place every Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30pm at 601 Christie Street. Join me to see friends and neighbours and buy fresh produce and other food. See you there!
It was my great pleasure to be part of the annual holiday gift drive at Castleview Wychwood Towers. I had a wonderful morning with residents, long-term care staff, the General Manager of Seniors Services and Long-Term Care- Paul Raftis and students from Hillcrest Community School.
‘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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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).
The City welcomes winter, a time when Torontonians and visitors can lace up skates, toboggan at 28 local hills, ski (alpine and cross-country) or simply visit a warming station along King Street. Nathan Phillips Square is hosting free, drop-in skate programming with DJ skate nights and free instruction.
Details about skating on outdoor rinks and indoor arenas, tobogganing and skiing/snowboarding (with the season starting January 1 for the City’s two ski/snowboard centres) are available at https://www.toronto.ca/welcome-to-winter/.