Marking Remembrance Day and Indigenous Veterans Day
This month, we express our gratitude to the brave men and women of our armed forces, including up to 12,000 Indigenous veterans, who have served, sacrificed and fought for our peace and freedom. Lest we forget. In 2021, we also mark the 100th Anniversary of the poppy being used as a Canadian symbol of remembrance.
City Moves forward with Affordable Housing through Inclusionary Zoning
Inclusionary Zoning, which requires developers to set aside a percentage of new units as affordable, is a long time coming. After more than a decade of requesting the province for this power, the City was finally given permission recently. I am pleased to report that, while not as ambitious as it could have been, Council approved moving forward with a plan that will significantly increase the number of affordable units in Toronto.
There are a number of positive measures that those advocating for affordable housing were able to get included in the plan, including:
- My motion to have Little Jamaica considered for Inclusionary Zoning was approved
- Affordability of units increased from 25 to 99 years
- Rent will be geared to 30% of income instead of a percentage of the market rate
While the Inclusionary Zoning measures approved by Council are a good first step, they were not as bold as they could have been. The targets were relatively low and won’t be fully phased-in until 2030. City Staff estimate that Toronto has already lost out on over 11,000 affordable housing units as a result of provincial delay. Why would we delay its implementation further?
Fortunately, the Chief Planner has agreed to reassess the policy within 3 years. Some parts of the plan that I would like to see addressed at that time include:
- Minimum 100 units for IZ to apply
- Province only allowed IZ in developments near transit stations
- City cannot dictate whether rental or affordable ownership
- City is not requiring any affordable units in purpose-built rentals for several years, and even then only 3-5%
Continuing the Fight for Colour-Coded RentSafe Signage
The RentSafeTO initiative approved by Council in 2017 is one of the most comprehensive, progressive, and rigorous municipal tenant protection initiatives in North America. The new multi-residential apartment by-law was the result of years of hard work with local tenant advocates and city-wide organizations, including the Federation of Metro Toronto Tenants’ Associations, ACORN, Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, as well as community legal clinics.
Unfortunately, last year Council voted against the colour-coded rating system, based on the DineSafe program, that was central to the RentSafeTO program. The rationale from many opposing Councillors is that a “red” rating on the front of a building will stigmatize renters inside.
It is curious that I have only heard that argument in Council Chambers or made by industry lobbyists. Tenants already know if there building is in poor shape. The stigmatization stems from having pest infestations or mold, not a sign. At present, not all, far too many Landlords do everything to delay making critical repairs including dragging out the process through the courts. A red sign is a visible marker that can shame Landlords into action. Tenants would rather a temporary red sign than a building that is permanently in disrepair.
Tenant groups have been very clear that they see the visible rating system as validation that their local government cares about their health and safety and, more importantly, will take steps to improve their home. We will keep fighting to ensure that every tenant has a clean, safe, and healthy home.
For more information, please see this CityNews feature.
Moving Forward With New Davisville Community and Aquatic Centre
I am thrilled to announce that we are moving forward with the new Davisville Community & Aquatic Centre for our midtown community. Our growing ward has been underserved and has long needed more community space. Members of the Midtown Hub Advocacy Group, Trustee Shelley Laskin and I have worked hard over the course of several years to achieve this new community centre for midtown. The Community & Aquatic Centre, located in an adjacent City building on the Davisville Junior PS site, will provide the following spaces:
- A 25-metre lane pool
- A leisure/tot pool
- Community, multi-use space
- A lobby
- WIFI access throughout
- Bathrooms and change rooms
- An active green roof with community access
The City is in the third and final phase of community consultation for the new Centre’s design. Please make your voice heard through the City’s online survey by November 24.
Beltline Fitness Equipment – We Want to Hear From You!
Earlier this year I was approached by members of the community advocating for adult fitness equipment along the Beltline Trail. Our midtown community is currently underserved, with the closest calisthenics equipment located a fair distance away. In conjunction with City Staff, I would like to hear your thoughts about installations along the stretch of the Beltline between the Bridge over Yonge Street and Lascelles Boulevard. This section of the trail was chosen because it is wide and members of the community feel that it would benefit from more animation. Photos and a public survey on the Beltline fitness equipment can be found here.
Expanding Snow Clearing in Parks & Increasing Winter Bathroom Access
Since my initial motion asking for an enhanced mechanical sidewalk clearing pilot at the Infrastructure & Environment Committee in October 2019, we have finally achieved a more equitable and fair sidewalk snow clearing service across Toronto this winter season.
While this was a major success, I continue to advocate for increased winter maintenance in more parks and trails across our city. At last week’s Council meeting, my colleagues and I requested Parks, Forestry and Recreation to implement a snow clearing pilot for Environmentally Significant Areas, ravines and bridges in our city’s parks.
In addition to this, I’m advocating for expanded winter bathroom access in parks across our City. If park amenities can still be used, bathroom access should be available for all park users.
I’ll continue providing updates on these initiatives through my e-newsletter.
Long Live CafeTO!
Last spring, I began advocating to City Staff on the exciting prospect of using curb lanes in Toronto for outdoor dining to address the indoor capacity restrictions restaurants and bars were facing due to the public health emergency. I was thrilled to see this initiative come alive and transform our streets into vibrant and safe spaces this past summer. In fact, I believe many Torontonians are pleased to finally have a patio culture we’ve long envied in City’s around the world.
I’m pleased to announce that at last week’s City Council meeting, my colleagues and I approved a plan that will make the CaféTO program permanent while continuing to deliver needed business support to restaurants including waiving permit fees in 2022. Moving forward, CafeTO may not look exactly the way it has the past two years, given that it will be important to make adjustments to consider requirements whether it be for parking, deliveries, improved sightlines or any other contextual needs.
This is a major win for our city and small businesses. I look forward to seeing you on a patio next Spring!
Vision Zero Traffic Enforcement Team
Following my strong advocacy at Council for traffic safety and enforcement of traffic rules on our roads to reduce traffic-related fatalities, the Toronto Police Service launched the Vision Zero Traffic Enforcement team a year ago. The team, made up of City traffic staff, have undertaken the requisite training, and have been given special enforcement powers. They are primarily charged with cracking down on speeding, distracted, aggressive and impaired driving to keep us safe. I recently caught up with one of these enforcement officers, Matthew, and learned about the incredible work they do in keeping our community safe at the Roehampton/Yonge and Eglinton/Allen areas. If you happen to run into any of these officers, consider taking a moment to express your gratitude. They have mine!
Millwood Crosswalk Progress
I moved a motion this year at the Toronto East York Community Council to secure a crossing guard on Millwood Road, adjacent to the Davisville JPS and Spectrum Alternative School, and to install safety features such as a painted pedestrian crossing, School Crossing signs, and pedestrian ramps. Work was in progress as per my last update.
I’m now very delighted to report that the crosswalk has been completed and the crossing guard has been assigned. There’ll be more work happening in the spring of 2022 with the installation of the overheard lights, making it a full Pedestrian Crossover (PXO). Nothing is more important than the safety of our kids!
Leaf Blower Update
We’ve reached that point in the Fall season where many of the leaves have fallen off the trees, and a hum throughout the city can be heard in almost every neighbourhood. The hum is not of the coming holiday season, but of two-stroke gas powered leaf blowers.
From our office’s correspondences with the community, I know that this is something that you feel extremely passionate about. I was proud to support a motion in September of 2020 asking staff to study a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers. The use of gas-powered lawn equipment on a daily basis is a detriment not just to the health of us and our neighbours, but also to the climate as a whole. According a 2011 study, a half hour yard work session with a two-stroke gas-powered leaf blower produces the equivalent carbon dioxide as driving from Texas to Alaska in a pick-up truck.
While the motion asked for an early 2021 deadline for staff to report back, the city’s second major lockdown due to COVID-1, spread staff resources thin. As many of us have now done our part to get vaccinated, and follow all other public health regulations, staff’s focus has shifted and they aim to bring the recommendations to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee early next year. I will work with my colleagues to hold staff to that date and will be among the loudest voices on council advocating for this ban.
For the daily yard work that many of us face during this season, I’ve always felt that you can never go wrong with a rake. Feel free to read more about my thoughts on two-stroke gas-powered leaf blowers in this piece from the Toronto Star. If you would like to receive periodic updates of City Staff’s reports on the progress of the ban, I encourage you to reach out to my office at Councillor_Matlow@toronto.ca for more information.
COVID-19 Vaccines: Third Dose Information
Celebrating Diwali with Family & Friends
Last week, my family and I had the pleasure of celebrating Diwali with our neighbours. It was so special to be able to come together to celebrate this Festival of Lights this year.
Yonge & Davisville Annual Chanukah Community Celebration
UHN OpenLab is Looking for Seniors to Partner with on a New Aging in Place Initiative
The NORC Ambassadors program is an initiative of University Health Network’s OpenLab that aims to partner with senior residents to transform their high-rise buildings into vibrant communities that support healthy aging in place. They are currently recruiting new groups to work with in early 2022, and are looking for residents who are interested in forming an ‘aging in place’ group in their own building.
If you are interested in learning more, please contact Giselle at 437-290-8033 (a local Toronto number) or via firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out their website here.
Check Out What’s Happening at Our New Youth Space in Oakwood-Vaughan
Last December, my motion to find a new community space for youth in our Oakwood-Vaughan neighbourhood passed unanimously at City Council. Since then, For Youth Initiative has opened its doors at 504 Oakwood Avenue and begun offering programming and services to our youth.
Check out their newsletter to learn more about their in-person services, details on how to sign up for November to December virtual programs, job opportunities for youth, and a wonderful opportunity for youth seeking leadership positions in the Oakwood-Vaughan community!
Call for Artists
There’s No Place Like Home- Virtual Gala
I’m proud to be a special guest at Hospice Toronto’s “There’s No Place Like Home” virtual gala on Nov. 18, in support of their community-based programs for people facing illness and their loved ones. It will be a special evening full of music, comedy and inspiration broadcast from the Aga Khan museum. Join me by registering here.
See a Streetlight Out? Report it Through Toronto Hydro’s New Website
Toronto Hydro (TH) recently launched a new interactive street lighting map which makes reporting streetlights out very easy.
All you do is click on the light fixture in question – if it’s yellow that means TH already knows that the fixture needs repairs. If it’s green, a dialog box opens up when you click on the fixture with a link to report the light out.
Two of the benefits of the new platform are that it will help improve the accuracy of identifying the correct location and you can track the status of the repair. There is an option right on the form to indicate that you’d like to be notified of when the light is repaired.
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.
UrbanArts Launches Seniors Arts Initiative
Turtle Project: A Celebration of Inner Strength
I am truly inspired by the family of Anne Marie D’Amico.
On April 23, 2018, she was tragically killed by a gender-based hate crime, and what has become known as the “Toronto Van Attack”. She was one of 10, who lost their lives.
I know many of my constituents are still affected by the aftermath of this ugly act of inhumanity. However, there is light from this darkest of moments.
I want to share with you how this family is turning their journey into one of hope and inspiration.
In 2019 the family created the Anne Marie D’Amico Foundation with a vision to have women and children live free from violence. To date they have raised $500,000 towards the $1 million goal to rebuild lives for women escaping violence.
The “TURTLE PROJECT” is their pinnacle fund raising event to fund this undertaking.
This year’s theme is A Celebration of Inner Strength. Join me to applaud TORONTO’s collective inner strength in these challenging Covid times. The Turtle Project is an evening of live entertainment suitable for all ages.
The Turtle Project Event Details:
- Date: Friday December 3rd, 2021
- Time: 7:00PM
- Location: Meridian Hall, 1 Front St E, Toronto ON
- Buy tickets: https://www.damicofoundation.org/the-turtle-project-season-2/
Toronto-St. Paul’s Halloween Round-Up:
I was thrilled to be able to spend Halloween with my community this year. From joining the Cottingham Square Community Association and the Church of the Transfiguration at their trick or treating events to walking among the pumpkins at the pumpkin parades hosted by AppleTree Markets at June Rowlands and the community at Wychwood Barns Park.
Shop Mt. Pleasant 2 Win
Add Art to your Life! Visit Don Valley Art Club Holiday Art Show & Sale Nov. 15 to Dec. 5
A unique gift idea for others…or yourself! See more than 300 artworks from over 100 members offering a variety of mediums, subject matter and style. There is something for everyone! The Don Valley Art Club thanks you for supporting local Toronto artists
Support Humewood House
Three years ago, a small group of neighbours in the Humewood/St Clair West community started a fundraising campaign for a scholarship fund to support young women served by Humewood House (now known as the Humewood Campus of the Massey Centre).
Over the initial two years of the campaign, a total of $5,000 was raised to help young mothers pursue post-secondary education at accredited colleges and universities. Last year five scholarship recipients received $1,000 each to use towards their education. This was money our community raised. The funds raised go to the Humewood Community Scholarship recipients to prepare for a better future for themselves and their children.
The fundraising campaign for 2021 has now started and will continue until December 31, 2021. If you’d like to contribute, a donation can be made online (tax receipts will be provided), please click here.
Thank you in advance for supporting this local initiative!
Get Involved in the City’s 2022 Budget Process
Every time you drink clean water from the tap, have your garbage or recycling picked up, park in a Green P lot, or ride a Bike Share bicycle, you are using a City of Toronto service. On November 3, the Budget Committee launched the approval process for the 2022 rate-supported budgets for Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management Services and Toronto Parking Authority – programs that are almost entirely supported by user fees. Learn more about the budget and how you can get involved by clicking here.
The Stop’s Farmer’s Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns
Come out and visit the Stop’s Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns (601 Christie St.) every Saturday, year round, from 8:00am to 12:30pm to enjoy local, sustainable and organic products and great music! I look forward to seeing you then!
City of Toronto Invites Applications for its Women4ClimateTO Mentorship Programme
Applications are open for the City of Toronto’s Women4ClimateTO Mentorship Programme, which aims to empower and inspire female climate leaders in Toronto.
The program offers a combination of mentoring, networking and collaborative learning opportunities to help women take their climate-related initiative or start-up business to the next level. Participants will work on advancing self-initiated projects or ventures that support the goals of the City’s TransformTO Climate Action Strategy and/or Resilience Strategy.
Applications will be accepted until Sunday, November 28, 2021. More information about Women4ClimateTO is available here.
Hidden Gems Toronto Podcast
The Hidden Gems Toronto podcast introduces you to individuals and groups who are doing amazing things in the city of Toronto. They are creative, enthusiastic people who have a passion for their work. You will learn about their projects, the impact they are having on the city and what motivates them to excel. Check out the podcast here.
311-Toronto at Your Service
311 provides residents, businesses and visitors with easy access to non-emergency City services, programs and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 311 can offer assistance in more than 180 languages. Check out the new and 311 website: 311-Toronto at Your Service.
Not Down the Drain
Do you know what can and can’t go down your drain? Putting the wrong things down your pipes can cause basement flooding; pollute streams, rivers and the Lake; and clog City pipes resulting in expensive repairs. Please don’t put grease, wipes and dental floss down the drain. Find out more about what can and can’t go down your drain by clicking here.
Oakwood Collegiate Institute Open House – December 1st, 2021
Oakwood-Vaughan Community Organization Safety Survey