Marking Truth & Reconciliation Day on September 30th
Last Thursday marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Together, we took take time to reflect on the ongoing legacies of violence and racism that stem from residential and day schools.
I hope this reflection spurs a genuine acknowledgement of our nation’s atrocities and helps us recognize the necessity to take substantive action. My office and I continue to work with local Indigenous organizations and artists in the Toronto-St. Paul’s community to support reconciliation and Indigenous placemaking.
The City of Toronto has prepared a resource that includes educational materials, places to donate, a calendar of events, and more. Please take the time to explore it here.
Supporting Tenants’ Rights to Have a Safe and Healthy Place to Live
Tenants should be able to know the condition of a building before making it their home. If already there, they should be able to expect a safe & healthy place to live. I’m proud to have helped initiate RentSafeTO. Check out our new interactive webpage at: http://Toronto.ca/RentSafeTO.
Judicial Inquiry into Violent and Ineffective Approach to Encampment Clearings Voted Down by Mayor and City Council
Many Toronto residents were shocked and concerned by the violence that occured during the encampment clearings in parks this summer across the city. The videos and images that circulated in local and international media showed a use of force that was clearly excessive. The banning and arrest of internationally accredited journalists was unprecedented in our city and cannot be allowed to stand in a healthy democracy. There is a critical need to examine what happened during those encampment clearings, and the impact they had on vulnerable Torontonians and housing advocates, to ensure accountability and that this approach is never taken again.
A tent in a park is certainly not the solution to providing permanent, safe, affordable housing. However, the violent approach traumatized many already vulnerable unhoused residents and simply pushed them out of one park and into another park, underneath a bridge, or onto a sidewalk or laneway. It didn’t actually solve anything.
I’m pleased that the City Ombudsman has announced that due to important and significant questions regarding these actions, his office will investigate the City’s role in the encampment clearing. However, the Ombudsman’s purview does not extend to the Toronto Police Service. That’s why I moved a motion with Councillor Layton at this week’s Council meeting for a Judicial Review of the City’s engagement with the police, the violence that occurred during the clearings and the restriction and arrest of journalists.
Unfortunately, the mayor and his allies on Council voted against this call for accountability. I have become aware that in the aftermath of the disappointing vote at Council that housing advocates are considering pursuing other avenues to lodge complaints against the police’s conduct. I support these initiatives as we must never see a repeat of the violence we saw this summer. For more information, please see this interview.
New Parkette coming to Broadway and Mt. Pleasant
The northeast quadrant of Yonge and Eglinton, generally considered to stretch from Yonge to Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton north to Erskine is one of the most parkland deficient areas of the city. That’s why Councillor Jaye Robinson, who represents the northern section of the neighbourhood, and I have aggressively pursued new and much needed green space wherever possible.
That’s why I was pleased to be able to contribute section 37 funds towards this new park. While the City’s online visioning survey has been completed there will be further opportunities to have your say once preliminary design work is finished next spring. For further information and to sign up for updates from Parks Staff, please visit this website.
Have Your Say! Public Meeting on the Future of Canada Square Site
The former 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 the local community, these lands represent a historic opportunity to improve our quality of life and a destination site of city-wide significance.
Unfortunately, the proposal submitted to redevelop the site by Oxford Developments (the leaseholder on the site till 2070) late last year, did not include nearly enough public space, amenities, institutional and commercial uses, or affordable housing for a site of this size and importance. That’s why Council supported my motion to establish a Working Group that included Residents’ Associations, community organizations, and other stakeholders to inform a Special Study Area report.
The Group put forward a vision for the site that would help transform the Yonge-Eglinton area into a complete community, including:
- A large public park
- A new elementary school
- Public square on the corner
- Affordable housing
- Post-secondary institution
- Significantly increased office space for innovative companies and community organizations
- Cultural facilities such as a theatre space for the performing arts
Learn more and have your say on the future of this site at a virtual meeting hosted by City Planning on October 13, 2021 from 6:30-8:30 pm. Click here for more information on the Canada Square meeting.
How would you like to see Avenue Road Transformed?
It is evident that in its current state, Avenue Road, with its limited sidewalk space, poses significant safety risks to pedestrians. That is why for several years I, together with Councillor Layton, have been working very closely with the Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC) to get pedestrian improvements. Through a number of motions, we have asked the city to (among other things) lower the speed limit and widen sidewalks. Due to the pandemic, and with staff being redeployed, there was understandably a delay in piloting the improvements we’ve been championing. With things gradually getting back to normal, we’ve received indication from City staff that they are in the final stages of hiring a consultant for the project.
This news could not have come at a better time as the ARSC, working with architects from Brown + Storey, unveiled designs of how Avenue Road should be transformed. I actively participated in a community forum last month to present the designs, where the call by several residents for a new and improved pedestrian-friendly Avenue Road was loud and clear.
Following this forum, my office organized a further meeting with the ARSC and City staff to see how the best aspects of the proposed designs by Brown + Storey Architects can be incorporated into the City’s own processes. Additionally, we established clear timelines on the various stages of said processes towards implementation. Lastly, City staff has committed to evaluating the designs as well as studying potential public realm and safety improvements.
There’s now a very clear and concerted effort on the part of City staff, to evaluate all the motions I have moved with Councillor Layton, and to report back on a clear path forward. I intend to build on this momentum and will be organizing another meeting where more details of an action plan will be unveiled. Stay tuned for further updates!
COVID-19 Vaccine Initiatives, Requesting a Vaccine Clinic & 3rd Dose Information
Toronto-St.Paul’s Vaccine Initiatives
Last week, I co-hosted a vaccine clinic with York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors, Sinai Health and Women’s College. We reached nearly 50 residents, with 50% being first doses. Thank you to Lisa Tobio, Executive Director of York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors, and the Centre’s volunteers for their help!
Requesting a Mobile Clinic:
TPH is now taking requests for mobile vaccination clinics to come to your neighbourhood, workplace or other location to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. To learn more about who can request a clinic, how to request a mobile clinic and next steps after submitting your request, please click here and review the tab titled: “Mobile Immunization Clinics & Request Form”
Third Dose Eligibility:
For the general population, two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines provides strong protection against severe illness and hospitalization. This includes protection against the Delta variant of concern. Research shows however that certain people with low immune response can benefit from a third dose.
On September 14, 2021, the Government of Ontario announced expanded eligibility for third doses for the following groups of people: residents of long-term care homes, high risk retirement homes, elder care lodges and severely immunocompromised individuals. If you fall under any of the groups aforementioned, please click here and review the tab titled “Third Dose”.
Crossing Guard and Safety Measures on Millwood Road adjacent to the Davisville Junior Public School/Spectrum Alternative School
I’m delighted to report that last month, I moved a motion at the Toronto East York Community Council to secure a crossing guard on Millwood Road now that the Program is being operated by the City of Toronto. My motion also included a painted pedestrian crossing, School Crossing signs, and pedestrian ramps on Millwood. This is especially necessary as there is a pedestrian walkway that links Millwood Road to Belsize Drive that is heavily utilized by children on their way to and from school. Work is in progress and should be completed in the coming weeks. Nothing is more important than the safety of our kids!
Improving Pedestrian Safety Near Hillcrest Park
My motion was approved today at City Council to install a Pedestrian Crossover at Davenport and Rains Ave/Turner Rd to finally create a safer way for the community to walk to Hillcrest Park.
NEW: Youth Space in Oakwood-Vaughan Officially Opens Their Doors
Last December, my motion on finding a new community space for youth in our Oakwood-Vaughan neighbourhood passed unanimously at City Council. Since then, I’ve been working closely with our Social Development staff and the Oakwood Village BIA on founding the youth agency, “For Youth Initiative” (FYI) a new space in the community. Please click here for more information, including details on 20 wi-fi hotspots for youth who are experiencing barriers in accessing internet connectivity in their homes.
NEW: Ping Pong Table at Oriole Park
Last week, I was joined by my friends from the Toronto Eglinton Rotary Club, and the great Dianne Moore, to celebrate the new Ping Pong Table at Oriole Park and the 123 tables Dianne contributed across Toronto. This is a fun, affordable and safe way to bring residents in our community together.
Interested in Joining a New Community Theatre? Check Out Hillcrest Village Community Players
It is with great excitement to welcome a new community theatre company to our neighbourhood: Hillcrest Village Community Players! Hillcrest Village Community Players is based out of Hillcrest Village, Humewood and Wychwood area, on St Clair Avenue West. Everyone involved in the Community Players joins the organization from diverse backgrounds, all driven with two key values: a passion for theatre and a love for our community!
The first show, Anne of Green Gables the Musical, will be performed in February 2022. Interested in getting involved? They want you! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, follow their Facebook & Instagram, and share this exciting new community involvement opportunity with your friends, family and neighbours!
Toronto Youth Theatre Moves into Our Wychwood Community
In July 2021, the Toronto Youth Theatre (TYT Theatre) moved into the Wychwood Theatre located in the Wychwood Barns. They are excited to bring family-friendly programming with theatre performances, workshops and classes.
TYT Theatre exists to explore new ways of bringing theatre to audiences regardless of age or geographic location. They are an expert team of creators that cultivate curiosity and promote community interest in the arts. Whether it’s producing professional theatre shows, converting found spaces into new venues or building immersive experiences for anyone to enjoy, TYT Theatre is here to push boundaries and grow beyond traditional forms of entertainment.
For more information, please visit their website here.
Reggae Lane Safety Audit: Findings & Recommendations Coming Soon
A few weeks ago, I hosted a safety audit for Reggae Lane with METRAC, Kevin Bourne from the City’s Community Crisis Response Program, the York-Eglinton BIA, Toronto Public Health’s the Works, Toronto Parking Authority, and local residents to discuss the safety improvements that are needed in the lane. Findings and recommendations will be shared with the community soon.
MusiCounts is the JUNOS’ affiliated charity, focused on making music education inclusive, sustainable, and accessible for youth across Canada by providing musical instruments, equipment, and resources. One of MusiCounts’ annual pillars is the Band Aid program, through which under-resourced schools can apply for grants of up to $15,000 to spend on musical instruments and equipment at their discretion (including “non-traditional” instruments and equipment used in contemporary genres). Applications are now open (at the Band Aid link above) until November 25.
Afro-Caribbean Farmer’s Market- Grand Finale
This past Sunday, I joined Lori Beazer (market organizer), the York-Eglinton BIA, local representatives and community members to close off the first season of Little Jamaica’s summer staple, the Afro-Caribbean Farmer’s Market. It was a pleasure to work closely with Lori and the York-Eglinton BIA to bring this market to Eglinton. Thank you to everyone who came by to shop and to support the future of a vibrant Little Jamaica. I look forward to another successful season next year!
2022 Waste Collection Calendar Changes
The City is changing the way it distributes certain waste information to reduce costs and its environmental impact. Instead of a 2022 calendar, residents will receive their collection schedule as the last page of their utility bill. To learn more, please click here.
It was my pleasure to join local representatives and City Staff to kick-off the ShowLoveTO programs in our Little Jamaica community. From local stores to restaurants to arts and culture, this initiative will help strengthen our communities and support our small businesses. To check out our community’s ShowLoveTO’s activities, click here.
Cultural Hotspot Community Connect
ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022 is a year-long celebration of Toronto’s exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it. This exciting new initiative supports artists and art projects that reflect Toronto’s diversity and creates more opportunities for the public to engage with art in their everyday lives. To check out art pieces in your Toronto-St.Paul’s community, click this interactive map.
It Takes a Village: Community Consultation
In May 2021, Benjamin Feldman, a cultural producer, was awarded a StART Toronto Partnership Program grant. The scope of the project is to produce 3 large scale fine art murals by three Toronto based artists in the Tarragon Village Community.
The three locations and artists are;
1. 1201 Bathurst Street, Toronto x Jarus
2. 1175 Bathurst Street, Toronto x Ben Johnston
3. 42 Bridgeman Avenue, Toronto x Elicser
As a community partner, Tarragon Village Community Association (TVCA), TTC and my office will play a vital role in assisting community engagement and communication by sharing news and inviting feedback regarding the design and production of these murals. It is imperative that we connect with as many members of the community as possible to hear your thoughts on the project. The first community consultation will be held on Zoom on Thursday, October 14, 2021 @12:30pm. All information will be available here. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com
Forest Hill Barber Shop Turns 90!
This past week, I was joined by Terry and family to celebrate the Forest Hill Barber Shop on their 90th anniversary. Congrats Terry and the Forest Hill Village BIA on this milestone!
The City is now accepting applications for its PollinateTO Grants. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to support community-led initiatives that create or expand pollinator habitat. Priority will be placed on funding projects in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. All resident-led groups are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply is November 1, 2021. Gardens will be planted in 2022.
City of Toronto Invites Residents to Become Neighbourhood Climate Action Champions
The City of Toronto is inviting residents and community leaders to help inspire local climate action by becoming a Neighbourhood Climate Action Champion.
Participants in the program will receive virtual training and support to empower them to support residents in developing innovative climate action projects that reflect the needs and values of their communities.
Participants must be willing to commit four to five hours per month (minimum 50 hours per year) engaging with their community in developing and implementing neighbourhood-based projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Participants will receive an honorarium of $500. Applications for the Neighbourhood Climate Action Champions program will be accepted until October 25, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Residents can learn more and apply here.
Check Out Owen Weinstein Lane in Cedarvale
It was my heartfelt pleasure to be joined by Westover Hill residents to rename a lane for Owen Weinstein, a 14 year old boy who died of leukemia but lived a life that touched an entire community. Here’s to celebrating Owen’s legacy!
Toronto-St.Paul’s Fall Recreation Guide
To sign-up for recreation programs at Vaughan Road Academy (529 Vaughan Road), Brown Community Centre (454 Avenue Road), Fairbank Memorial Community Centre (2213 Dufferin Street), and Hillcrest Community Centre (1339 Bathurst Street), review this link.
New Playground Coming Soon: Davisville PS/Spectrum Alternative
Earlier this year it came to my attention that the design for the new Davisville Public School/Spectrum Alternative did not include any play structures due to the provincial funding formula. I have been working with the Parent Council and am happy to report that I was able to secure Section 37 funding this past spring. Construction is set to begin in 2022. I’ll be sharing further updates through my future e-newsletters.
Community Environment Days: Drive-Thru Edition
Community Environment Days help reduce the amount of reusable or recyclable waste going to landfill and allow for safe disposal of household hazardous waste.
Building on the success of last year, the City will host 14 drive-thru Community Environment Day events at the City’s Drop-Off Depots. Events will be held at two Drop-Off Depots on Sundays throughout September and October, 2021. To check out the event schedule, please click here.
Supporting Vulnerable Youth through Tichester Gardens Cookbook
Six senior women, responding to the challenges that vulnerable youth continually face through racism and social injustice, launched a fundraising effort by compiling a cookbook featuring the recipes of residents and friends of Tichester Gardens (a naturally occurring retirement community (NORC)).
The result? A cookbook of recipes and stories reflecting treasured memories shared with loved ones. Most importantly, the sale proceeds will be donated to ComKids, a charity dedicated to creating a level playing field for at risk students by providing them with their own laptop along with training in essential digital skill lessons and access to optional learning opportunities, thereby creating a launching pad to unlock their full potential.
To contribute to the vulnerable youth of our city, email firstname.lastname@example.org to order the books, on sale for $15 + shipping.
Oriole Park’s Little Free Library Gets A New Look
Thank you to the craftsmanship of our City’s Park Staff, Oriole Park’s Little Free Library gets a new look. Happy reading!
Toronto-St Paul’s Farmer’s Markets
Ward 12 is lucky to have a variety of wonderful farmer’s markets across our neighbourhoods. Join me at the markets listed below to see friends, neighbours and buy fresh produce and other food. See you there!
AppleTree’s Midtown Market: Thursday October 7th will be the last day of this market. Check it out between 3:00pm and 7:00pm at Yorkminster Park Church
Eglinton Way Farmer’s Market: Sunday October 10th will be the last day of this market. The BIA hopes to see you there from 8:00am to 1:00am at 125 Burnaby Blvd.
The Stop Farmer’s Market at Wychwood Barns: Every Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30pm at 601 Christie Street (Wychwood Barns)
It was an absolute pleasure to join the Davisville community, Chris Trussell and Lesley Stoyan in closing AppleTree’s Davisville Market. Until next year!
Wychwood Library Branch Opening Soon
The improved Wychwood Public Library, designed to preserve our history while supporting our future, is finally nearing completion! Like you, I look forward to its reopening this fall! To receive the latest updates on renovation progress, follow the branch on Twitter here.
Mosaic Home Care Activities
Our friends at Mosaic Home Care have a number of social programs and events online for the fall season. Please feel welcome to check them out here.
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.