One of the most important things you can do to help end this pandemic is to get vaccinated. This will not only keep you safe, but your family, friends and neighbours, too. Vaccination is underway for Phase 1 and Phase 2 in the Province’s vaccination program. Details about Phase 3 timing, who is eligible and the status of completed vaccinations for Ontario is on the Province’s website.
I’ve heard from many of you that the Province’s vaccine rollout has been confusing and it has been hard to understand once one is eligible. This is why I decided to create a “one-stop shop” for our Toronto-St Paul’s community, to provide you with all relevant information available to us.
- Residents aged 60+ (born in 1961 or earlier) can currently book appointments at city immunization clinics and at Baycrest Clinic.
- Residents aged 55+ (born in 1966 or earlier) can currently book appointments by clicking here or contacting the clinics listed in the “non-city run vaccination clinics” tab below.
Residents 50+ (born in 1971 or earlier) who live in hotspot Postal code (M6E) can currently book appointments at city immunization clinics, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and at Baycrest Clinic.
- Residents with pre-existing conditions that qualify under phase 2 can currently pre-register with Sunnybrook Hospital and the University Health Network.
To call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line dial: 1-888-999-6488 (TTY 1-866-797-0007).
Rogers and Bell Media has announced that they will not be charging minutes used when calling official government vaccine booking lines. All calls are free of charge!
To learn more, please visit my website here.
Standby Lists at Mass Immunization Sites: Making Vaccine Rollout more Efficient
Many of us have looked on in frustration at the news reports of vaccines being wasted and immunization appointments being unfilled. This is unacceptable given the importance of getting vaccines into as many arms as possible to help stop the transmission of the new COVID-19 variants.
That’s why I’m pleased Council supported my motion to request the City’s Office of Emergency Management, the organization in charge of the City’s vaccine rollout, to look into the feasibility of having “standby” lists at mass vaccination sites. While the scheduled appointments will still be given to individuals in the eligible priority groups, this measure will ensure that someone else would be able to get vaccinated if someone doesn’t show up for an appointment or if there is excess vaccine available at the end of the day.
I will provide an update regarding how to sign up for a standby list if my proposal is implemented.
For more information, please see this article
Providing Ontarians with Vaccine Pre-Registration Now
As our province faces the pandemic’s third wave, many Ontarians continue to experience significant challenges with mental, physical and emotional well-being. While the vaccine roll-out offers an end in sight to the COVID-19 pandemic, too many Ontarians who have yet to be eligible for the current phase of the vaccination plan are left feeling anxious about when, and how they’ll learn that their turn will finally come.
That is why, Dr. Samir Sinha, Tai Huynh, Dr. David Fisman, Dr. Nathan Stall and I wrote to the Province to recommend that they offer a specific category on their call-in and online booking systems that gives Ontarians an opportunity to pre-register for the vaccine. We suggest that their date of birth, postal code, and email address and/or phone number would be required to put their name in the queue. They would then receive an acknowledgment that they are now on the list. Once eligible, Ontarians could receive an email and/or text message outlining the next steps on how to officially book their vaccine appointment and applicable location(s). To read our full letter, please click here. To learn more about this, click this Toronto Star article.
Mobile On-Site COVID-19 Vaccinations Needed for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities
Last month, I co-authored a science brief for Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table on the importance of prioritizing COVID-19 vaccination by both age and neighbourhood of residence as an effective strategy to minimize deaths, morbidity and hospitalization. Naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs)are apartment, condo, co-op and social housing buildings that while not purpose-built for older adults, have become home to a high number of them.
In Toronto, there are 489 residential buildings that are NORCs. Of these, 256 are located in neighbourhoods with the highest cumulative incidence of SARS-CoV-2, and are home to 40,955 older adults 65 years of age and above, including 18,144 older adults 80 years of age and above. Targeting people living in NORCs in high-risk neighbourhoods for early vaccination is a practical application of that strategy, which will also address barriers to vaccination in this population. To read the full brief, including the findings and interpretation, please click here.
Thank you to Dr. Nathan Stall and his colleagues for the amazing opportunity!
Protecting Tenants from COVID-19: Mandatory Masks in Apartment Common Areas
Over the last couple of months I’ve heard from an increasing number of renters that a small number of their neighbours have been putting everyone in their building at risk by refusing to wear a mask in indoor common areas. Moreover, I have received very concerned phone calls from residents that attempts to get these individuals to wear a mask have been met with belligerent and aggressive behaviour.
After bringing this issue to the attention of the General Manager of Municipal Licensing and Standards, the Division that is responsible for enforcing City by-laws, I was surprised to learn that there was no recourse against individuals that refused to wear a mask. The current by-law only ensured that Landlords put up signage and practiced proper sanitation.
That’s why I’m pleased that after working with the City’s enforcement team and City Legal, my motion to enforce mask wearing in apartment common areas was approved. While some people may occasionally make an honest mistake and forget to wear a mask, please call 311 if a neighbour is repeatedly and flagrantly putting everyone else’s safety at risk.
Toronto Public Library Calls 35,000 Seniors to Assist with Vaccine Bookings
As Toronto’s Seniors Advocate, I’m well aware of the many barriers the Province’s booking systems presents for our seniors. I believe that more needs to be done to ensure that every senior gets the opportunity to be vaccinated. That is why, I was pleased to actively work with Mayor Tory and Toronto Public Library staff on our initiative to call seniors with library cards about the current available options to book a vaccine. I plan to continue to work with and leverage lists from other City divisions to ensure that all residents are aware of how to book and where to go to receive a vaccine.
A Message From Molly Matlow: Let’s Defeat the Virus!
It’s time for adults to take some advice from their kids! Click here to see an important message from Molly Matlow.
Update on 63-91 Montclair Avenue Development
Due to the developer’s appeal to the LPAT (Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) back in December, City Planning is reporting back to Community Council to get Council’s direction for the upcoming hearing for this development. The meeting agenda was published just last week, and includes a detailed staff report that you can find at this link. Please click here for a further update and for information on how to make your voice heard.
City Council Unanimously Votes in Favour of Protecting & Preserving Little Jamaica- Thank You for your Support
I’m happy to announce that my motion to explore heritage designation for Little Jamaica was unanimously approved by City Council yesterday. This is truly a historic moment for members of Toronto’s Little Jamaica and African, Black and Caribbean communities as the motion ensures that Black voices are driving the process of exploring and protecting the past and future of their community.
I’m grateful for the support from colleague members of Council, in particular, Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson, who seconded the motion, Mayor Tory, City staff, and key community stakeholders such as Black Urbanism TO (BUTO) and CP Planning.
To further actualize the objectives of this comprehensive motion, my office and BUTO will be co-hosting a Town Hall in the coming weeks to hear directly from community members on identifying the right tools toward preserving the architectural and cultural heritage of Little Jamaica, and protecting its future. Please stay tuned here!
I wish everyone observing Ramadan a very healthful and blessed month of reflection. While we adhere to safe physical distancing, we can find creative ways to stay connected with family, friends and community.
Best Wishes for Orthodox Christian Easter
I would like to wish each of you celebrating Easter in May a safe and healthful Holy Week. May you find ways to share tradition and celebrate safely together.
ActiveTO Midtown Approved: Yonge Street, between Bloor and Davisville, Receiving a Complete Streets Pilot Project for Spring/Summer 2021
As I had written in my previous e-newsletter, this month’s City Council discussed a proposal for a complete streets pilot project on Yonge Street, between Bloor and Davisville, this spring. After a month of consultation and discussion with numerous stakeholders, and an avalanche of support from the local community (and beyond), Council voted resoundingly in support of the pilot project. Please click here for an update on the project, including information regarding an upcoming community consultation meeting.
Enjoying a Drink Outdoors: Providing Safe, Responsible and Equitable Options for all Torontonians
The first few months of the pandemic saw caution tape on park benches and basketball nets while groups of enforcement officers discouraged lingering in green spaces and beaches. We have learned a lot about COVID-19 transmission since the first wave last spring. The City now encourages residents to use parks for exercise and socializing as long as appropriate distances are maintained.
As we approach the second summer of the pandemic, public health officials recognize the reality that people need to socialize. It is up to us as policy makers to create environments where those connections with friends and family can be made in the safest way possible.
Last summer, Council recognized the importance of being able to enjoy a drink outside by loosening restrictions on patios with the successful CafeTO program, which will be brought back this year. Other residents will choose to drink with loved ones in their backyards or on balconies.
But what about Torontonians that can’t afford a drink in a bar or don’t have an outdoor space in their homes? These residents will either be forced to have unsafe gatherings indoors or, like many over the past year, choose to drink illegally in parks.
To provide a safe, equitable option, I have put forward a motion to allow responsible adults the option of having a beer or glass of wine in our City’s parks, Cities of similar size around the world including Montreal, London, Paris, and Sydney permit residents to drink in parks. In response to the pandemic, Vancouver approved drinking in 9 parks last year with many more scheduled to be opened up for alcohol in 2021.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor who studies infectious diseases at McMaster University told Global News that “there’s all these reports of transmission in bars and house parties. So why don’t we mitigate that risk? Let’s use the outdoors rather than forcing people indoors for their gatherings”
Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease expert from the University of Alberta told the CBC that easing up on public drinking laws this summer during the pandemic would be helpful stating that “anything that is outdoors –as long as people aren’t shoulder to shoulder – we should be encouraging”. He also said that being able to drink in public doesn’t necessarily result in people drinking in excess, “we don’t want to outlaw all behaviour just because taken to the extreme there can be problematic examples”.
Public intoxication and underage drinking are already illegal under provincial law. Littering, excessive noise, and public urination are also ticketable offences and already issued in many parks. My motion seeks to increase and focus enforcement on problem behaviours that are already occurring while loosening restrictions for responsible adults who wish to enjoy a beer or glass of wine.
Toronto, like some other North American cities, has uneven enforcement with inequitable results.
Allowing alcohol consumption in parks came to my attention a few years ago when a friend relayed a concerning incident. My friend was approached by by-law officers while drinking a beer with another person in a park. He was able to talk himself out of a ticket and was just given a warning. He then noticed two groups of people doing the exact same thing given tickets by the same officer. My friend is white and the people receiving tickets were black. I have heard similar stories in the years since, including during the pandemic.
While Toronto does not keep race-based statistics on the issuance of tickets for drinking in parks, the example from New York City is troubling. In 2020, the New York Police Department issued 1,250 criminal summonses issued for drinking in public. Out of that number 48% went to Black individuals, 43% to Hispanics, and only 7% went to white people.
For public health and equity, this motion seeks to follow the lead of Vancouver by implementing a pilot project to allow beer and wine consumption in public parks and beaches between 11am and 9pm, from Friday May 21st to Sunday October 31st, 2021.
The Future of Yonge and Eglinton’s Canada Square: Supporting Midtown Residents’ Quality of Life
The Bus Barns site on the Canada Square lands have sat as a derelict eyesore for almost two decades, serving as a staging ground for construction of the Eglinton Crosstown. However, the site (bounded by Eglinton to the north, Yonge to the east, Berwick to the south, and Duplex to the west) will become one of the most important transit hubs in Toronto when the project is completed.
Importantly to our local community, these lands represent a historic opportunity to improve the quality of life for Midtown residents. Designated as a Growth Centre by the Provincial government in 2006, the Yonge-Eglinton area has experienced rapid development and a corresponding increase in population over the past decade and a half. Unfortunately, the Province did not ensure that community services and infrastructure would keep up with the pace of growth. As a result, there is a recognized dearth of amenities in the neighbourhood such as parks, recreation space, child care, and more. Please click here for an important update regarding Yonge and Eglinton’s Canada Square, including information on how to make your voice heard.
Enhancing Coordination in the Yonge-Eglinton Construction Hub
As you may recall from my October newsletter (see here), I had moved motions at City Council to improve on the successes and improve on the shortcomings of the Construction Hub Coordination Pilot Project. The Hub project came as a result of my 2019 motion for a road safety audit and action plan for the Yonge-Eglinton area, with the aim of coordinating the various projects happening in this extremely busy area – LRT construction, condominium developments, utility works, capital infrastructure improvements, etc. – while ensuring improved pedestrian, cyclist and motorist safety in the area.
My motions asked for more resources to be given to the Hub, both administrative and enforcement-related, as it was made clear that the Hub Coordinator did not receive enough supports to do the work that he had been tasked with. Since then, my office has been working closely with the Republic Residents Association (RRA) on improving both the communications and operations of the Hub. We have started having regular meetings with the Association, the Hub Coordinator, and the General Manager of Transportation Services to ensure that we have a consistent feedback loop and that issues can be flagged and addressed in a timely manner. I am supporting the residents in their ask for a more robust, enhanced approach to the Hub that will ensure proper planning, coordination and enforcement in this highly dense area that is plagued by over a dozen simultaneous projects.
I look forward to continuing this cooperation with the residents and Transportation Services, with the goal of making this area as safe as possible, while also providing more normalcy and predictability to one of the busiest construction areas in the country.
Public Consultation Process started for Davisville Hub Aquatic Centre
Last month, I had the privilege to kick-off the public consultation process for the Davisville Hub Aquatic Centre. Over 100 residents participated in the online meeting. With construction of the new Davisville PS scheduled to be completed by this Fall, work can officially begin on the City recreation facility next year!
The Hub will provide new and much-needed recreation opportunities for our community including:
- A new double gymnasium within the school that will have community access some evenings and on Saturdays for City-run recreation programs
- Aquatic facility, in a separate City building on the Davisville PS site, which will include one 25 metre, 6 lane pool and a warm water teaching pool with the appropriate ancillary spaces (i.e. change rooms, administrative and mechanical spaces)
- Multi-purpose rooms, including a community space of approximately 5,000 square feet
- Roof top park/garden that will include a green roof, elevator access, patio and walking path
- 60 underground parking spaces to be shared by both facilities.
The aquatic facilities, community spaces, and rooftop park will be City-owned and programming will be for the community. The gymnasium and parking will be shared with the TDSB and will be open to the public during some non-school hours.
For more information and contact info for the City Staff leading this project, please click here
Anti-Semitic Incidents in Our City
A few weeks ago, I learned about an anti-Semitic incident that happened in our community. I was deeply disturbed by the actions of this individual and want to thank the Toronto Police Service for their swift intervention. For details about this report, please click here.
As we’ve heard, anti-Asian racism has been on the rise in Canada and throughout the world during this pandemic. Members of our Asian communities have been subjected to disturbing and unfair treatment. That is why I was pleased to support Council’s call to confront anti-Asian racism and to move forward with an action plan.
We all have a responsibility to take a stand against anti-Semitism. Help bring awareness by continuing to stay informed.
On a similar note, May is Asian Heritage Month, which is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian descent who, throughout our history, have done so much to make Canada the amazing country we share today.
Development Meetings in April
City Planning has received an application for an Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendment proposing a 29 Storey building at 49 Jackes. While this site is located just outside of Ward 12, I will be supporting the Deer Park Community and Councillor Layton in the City’s review of this development proposal.
City Planning has received an application for a Zoning By-law Amendment proposing a 21-storey apartment building with 167 new rental units. A community consultation meeting will be held this month.
Please click here for details on the community meetings regarding each of these projects.
Taking a Walk Through Feel Good Lane
There are still opportunities to explore local arts and culture safely throughout many of our city’s laneways. Feel Good Lane, just North of St. Clair West and East of Atlas, is an adventurous walk through colourful murals, imaginative stories and creative place making. Click here to see more murals I captured from a recent stroll on a beautiful spring day.
Are you having trouble paying rent? Information and resources from the Akelius Tenant Support Network
The Akelius Tenants Network is a non-profit network of tenants living in properties owned by Akelius Canada Ltd within the Greater Toronto Area. They strive to support and stand up for tenants through education, organizing efforts and advocating for tenants’ rights. In response to the unprecedented financial hardship many tenants are facing due to the pandemic, they have created a guide by tenants, for tenants, who are behind on their rent. You can click here to access the guide and the network.
You can also access the City’s Rent Bank, a program that provides interest free loans to tenants unable to pay their rent here.
Supporting the NIA Centre’s Construction of Their New Space
I was pleased to move a motion at last week’s City Council that permits the NIA Centre to continue to perform their state of good repair on their current building at 524 Oakwood Avenue. The NIA Centre for the Arts is a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization that supports, showcases and promotes an appreciation of arts from across the African Diaspora. They are currently re-developing their space at 524 Oakwood Ave into a renewed professional arts centre! This hub will provide the community with art exhibition spaces, a 160-seat performance theatre, co-working spaces, digital arts incubation studios, recording & visual arts studios and community workspaces. This will be Canada’s first professional multi-disciplinary centre for African-Canadian art. I look forward to continuing to support and work with the NIA Centre on this historic project.
Supporting Small Businesses & Creating Vibrant Main Streets: CafeTO Registration Still Open & Ontario Expands Main Street Relief Grants
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 are working to protect our health and safety, let’s shop local to support them. We need our main streets to survive this pandemic. I welcome you to visit my website here to see the many Business Improvement Areas in our ward that you can support through shopping local!
Have your say: City Planning Begins Consultations on Garden Suites
The Garden Suites Study is one of several studies that the City Planning Division is leading to expand housing options in Neighbourhoods as part of the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) work program (EHON website), endorsed by City Council in July 2020. Please visit my website here to learn more about garden suites and how to make your voice heard.
Local Issues at Community Council in April
Toronto and East York Community Council’s responsibilities include making recommendations and decisions on local planning and development, as well as neighbourhood matters including traffic plans and parking regulations. Community Council reports to City Council, but also has final decision-making power on certain items, such as fence by-law exemptions and appointments to local boards and Business Improvement Areas. To check what local ward 12 issues are discussed at Community Council this month, please visit my website here.
Free Dance Program for Black Youth
Rhythm and Movements Dance Program is a creative, innovative and hands-on program for Black youth that will provide a safe space for young people to voice their concerns, share their opinions and acquire knowledge about healthy living through rhythm and movements.
Students ages 14-18 will gain physical education, social skill development, and they will learn about the different forms of creating rhythms and movements from African Traditional form to Urban hybrid style. The program consists of 4 sessions workshops and presentation/ performance (all via Zoom).
Note: This program is only open to Black youth
To register please click HERE
For more details visit: https://www.northyorkarts.org/project/rhythm-and-movements/
Laundry Access for Those in Need
A small business owner in the Dufferin and St. Clair community has raised over $8000 since March to provide access to free laundry services across the GTA for those who are facing financial challenges. You can read more about Yummi Café Laundromat’s extraordinary initiative here and also visit their Facebook page directly here.
Toronto-St. Paul’s Virtual Summit: Build Back Better
Pride Toronto looking for Spaces in our Ward
Pride Toronto is looking for your support! They have reached out to my office, hoping to expand their programming to our ward in 2021 and truly bring Pride to all corners of the ward and city.
They are currently looking for private spaces to showcase art, create installations, build outdoor LED walls to showcase 2SLGBTQ+ artists, project visual art and more!
If you have a private space in mind, please reach out to them directly at email@example.com.
Midtown’s Got A Lot of Talent!
Thank you to all those who entered our community’s Midtown’s Got Talent. It was such a successful online event. Congratulations to singer/song writer Nora Wylie for her winning performance, which you can view here!
All of those who performed as well as links to their Youtube pages can be found on my website here.
Kiwanis Club of Toronto Grants to Support Initiatives That Support the Leadership and Mentorship of Children
These challenging times highlight the role of effective leaders in building resilient communities. In response, the Kiwanis has shifted its strategic focus to support opportunities for leadership and mentorship of children and youth in Toronto with grants of up-to $10,000.
The grants will be awarded to those programs and projects that support the overall development of children and youth with a primary goal of fostering healthy children and communities. This grant application will be open from April 1 to May 15, 2021, with successful applicants being awarded by an anticipated date of June 1, 2021.
Click here to learn more about the grant and how to apply.
Free Art Sessions: Be part of a Community Mural
Register HERE (One registration per household)
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.
Hillcrest Village Mother’s Day Gift Baskets
Funding Announced For Artists and Art organizations
The Ontario government is providing $25 million to help artists and arts organizations survive the COVID-19 pandemic, remain solvent and prepare for a time when they can fully re-open their facilities, resume full programming and welcome back their visitors and audiences.
Additionally, $1 million will provide much-needed support directly to artists and creators from across the province. More information on this, including eligibility requirements and application deadlines, will be available soon on the Ontario Arts Council website.
Wychwood Centennial Hockey Jersey in Support of Na-Me-Res Men’s Shelter
Greenline Park in the News!
Thank you to everyone who participated in our virtual public meeting held this winter regarding the new park between Davenport on the east, Hydro lands on the west and MacPherson Avenue to the south as part of the City’s Green Line initiative. This is one of the first new parks to be part of the 5km long Green Line linear park through the heart of Toronto! Please check out these recent Daily Hive and BlogTO articles for more information.
Follow My Updates on Social Media
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.