Happy Pride Month & Celebrating Launch of 2SLGBTQI+ Tool Kit for Seniors!
I was proud to join our city’s 2SLGBTQI+ community to raise the Pride Flag at City Hall to mark the start of Pride Month. Together, we stand against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and all other forms of hatred, and celebrate love and acceptance.
In honor of June being Seniors Month as well, I was thrilled to be able to launch our 2SLGBTQI+ toolkit for seniors at Castleview Wychwood Towers Long-Term Care home! Our 2SLGBTQI+ Seniors are a vital asset and a key part of what makes this city great. We all benefit from their energy, vibrancy, and lived experience. With the release of this Tool Kit, we are one step closer to realizing the vision of the Toronto Seniors Strategy: a truly age-equitable and inclusive Toronto for all seniors.
Providing Access to Public Water Fountains and Bathrooms
It should go without saying that hydrating, and the use of bathroom facilities are basic human requirements. Yet, according to City of Toronto communications, 30% of water fountains were still closed as of June 6th and social media has been awash with reports of many bathrooms being closed.
The lack of access to water and bathrooms in public parks limits all Torontonians’ enjoyment of our parks and beaches but has a disproportionate effect on seniors, children, people experiencing homelessness, and those with certain health issues. For many, the lack of a bathroom equates to a lack of access. It is unfair and unacceptable that our public spaces are essentially not available for far too many residents.
That’s why I moved a motion at the most recent Council meeting that requested City Staff to provide answers as to why these basic facilities are not yet open, even though it is June, so that this is never repeated. Unfortunately, the motion was narrowly defeated by the Mayor’s allies.
For more information, please read this article.
Design Guidelines for CafeTO: Creating a Beautiful Streetscape
CafeTO is unquestionably one of the silver linings that have arisen as a result of the pandemic. In 2021, the program supported more than 1,200 restaurants with expanded outdoor dining opportunities on streets and sidewalks. Residents have been overwhelmingly supportive of the vibrant neighbourhood main streets CafeTO has created.
The one complaint residents have, however, is in regards to the unattractiveness of some patio installations. While there certainly are many businesses that have installed beautiful spaces, far too many make our streets look less like café cultures in world cities that we try to emulate and more like construction zones. Let this be the last summer that we enjoy a meal with friends and family surrounded by orange pylons and concrete blocks.
My motion, supported by Council, requests City Staff to develop design guidelines for CafeTO installations with a focus on creating a beautifully-designed streetscape that Torontonians can enjoy and be proud of, while also retaining an emphasis on cost and safety.
For more information, please see this article.
Protecting Tenants’ Health: Opening Windows to Keep Cool When it Gets Hot
Many Torontonians take for granted the ability to open their windows to get fresh air, and to cool down, especially in the hot summer months. Residents in high rise rental apartment buildings, however, are not afforded this basic comfort. Under the City’s Property Standards by-law, tenants in buildings with more than 3 storeys must have a guard installed that does not allow for a window to open more than 10cm (~4 inches).
While the by-law was enacted as a reaction to a tragedy, it has had unintended and harmful consequences. Restricting the opening of windows eliminates the only available avenue of relief for the many tenants who do not have air conditioning. In light of increasingly common extreme heat events, a lack of fresh air poses significant risks to seniors and others with certain health conditions that cause vulnerability to high temperatures.
That’s why I’m pleased to report that my motion to have City Staff to reconsider how we govern apartment windows was approved at the last Council meeting. The by-law already allows for other options that provide protection, including heavy duty screens that still allow for windows to be fully opened.
With extreme temperatures becoming the norm, it’s time for the City to look at a new way to keep people safe that doesn’t restrict their ability to allow fresh air into their apartment and cool down when the weather is hot.
Opportunity for New Rail Deck Park in Midtown
The subway trench and works yard adjacent to Davisville Station has been identified as a city-building opportunity since the late 1960s. Thankfully the plans for this location have progressed from a generic mall. I am excited to inform you that the City is now moving forward with a plan to significantly expand Oriole Park, provide new community services, and build affordable housing by decking over the subway tracks and the works yard.
Midtown has long been identified as an area that is parkland deficient. This project provides an opportunity to expand Oriole Park and deck the trench north of Chaplin. These two moves will significantly expand the amount of parkland, allowing the City to provide more diverse recreation opportunities for our growing community.
The plan also calls for the adaptive reuse of the TTC headquarters as a site for affordable housing and community services, while retaining the heritage attributes of the building. The first of many public meetings regarding this important site was held this spring. I will be sure to update you as plans progress.
Community Environment Day – One Remaining!
Together with Councillor Colle and the City of Toronto, we hosted a Community Environment Day at the North Toronto Memorial Arena as a way for everyone to safely get rid of their junk and grab some compost. We couldn’t ask for better weather or turnout—it was a great opportunity to connect and chat with everyone who showed up. And don’t worry if you missed it! Another will be held this Sunday, June 26th from 10am until 2pm at the Wychwood Barns Park, for you to be able to safely get rid of your junk and grab some compost. Visit this link for more information on Community Environment Days.
Making Reggae Lane a Vibrant & Safe Public Space
For far too many years, Reggae Lane has been neglected. It became unsightly, unsafe and left in an unacceptable condition. However, since I became your local representative, I’ve been working closing with nearby residents, small business owners, commercial property owners, the York-Eglinton BIA, Toronto Police Services and City Staff on a number of improvements including implementing a garbage and litter clean-up strategy, erecting a new fence, developing a resurfacing plan, addressing safety concerns and so much more.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic delayed some of the initiatives we began, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve secured section 37 funds to retrofit/rebuild the existing retaining wall and fence along Reggae Lane as well as any other existing concerns raised by the local community. We’ll continue to provide you with updates as we make progress on our initiatives.
Combatting Antisemitism and Celebrating Jewish Heritage
Over the past two years, Toronto has seen an alarming rise in Antisemitic harassment and targeted hate crimes. These attacks on the Jewish community are entirely unacceptable and have absolutely no place in our city or anywhere else. I was proud to have sat on the Mayor’s Antisemitism round table along with members of the Toronto Police Services Hate Crime Unit, my colleagues on Council, and representatives from the United Jewish Appeal, Centre for Israel Jewish Affairs, and Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
However, I believe it is important that these discussions include local leaders as well as our entire community. That is why I hosted a roundtable conversation in April about Antisemitism in our community and what needs to be done to combat it.
We were pleased to be joined by Detective Lauren Pogue from TPS hate crimes unit, Shelley Laskin, TDSB School Trustee, Rabbi Steve Wernick from Beth Tzedec Synagogue, and Jaime Kirzner-Roberts from Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre, all of whom brought forth invaluable instances of what each of their organizations are doing to combat the rise of Antisemitism. A big thank you to all who participated in this crucial discussion about the safety of our community.
While we are working diligently to ensure that every Jewish resident feels safe in our community during these challenging times, I also want to take a moment to note how Jewish culture and heritage is being celebrated across the city. In addition to the month of May being celebrated as Jewish Heritage Month, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival is wrapping up this weekend (TJFF 2022 – Schedule – Toronto Jewish Film Festival) and the Ashkenaz Festival is putting on events throughout the summer, culminating with a full week of festivities from August 30th to September 5th at Toronto Harbour Front Centre (Events at a Glance – Ashkenaz Festival). Enjoy!
Checking Out Lakeshore Lodge’s New CareTO Pilot
As Toronto’s Seniors Advocate, I was pleased to see our initiative to transform Long-Term Care in Toronto with an emotion-centred approach is making progress because of the people who work in our homes, and the relationships they build with residents. Thank you to Lakeshore Lodge (3197 Lake Shore Blvd. W.) for hosting me last week. It was inspiring.
JR Wilcox Schoolyard Improvements: Funding Secured!
Earlier this year, I heard from parents at JR Wilcox Community School that their schoolyard and playgrounds were in need of some overdue improvements. I am happy to announce that I was able to secure $350,000 from Section 37 funds to put towards this revitalization project. Conversations on what the final product will look like are already underway and the funding will include an agreement that sees the schoolyard be available to the broader community outside of school hours!
Lionel Conacher and Cottingham PS Park Revitalization Update
I am happy to announce that the Section 37 funding I secured for the Cottingham Square area has begun to be put towards Lionel Conacher and Cottingham PS Park. A new blacktop and basketball nets as well as a ping pong table will be installed this summer. In addition, I was able to secure separate funding from Transportation Services to revitalize the dead-end at Gange Avenue, which should also take place this year. Community consultations will be upcoming to discuss how to distribute the remaining over $100,000 in funds!
Coming Soon: New Davisville PS/Spectrum Alternative Playground
Last year it came to my attention that the design for the new Davisville PS/Spectrum Alternative didn’t include any play structures due to the provincial funding formula. Further to working with the Parent Council and Trustee Laskin, I was able to secure section 37 funds to construct a new play structure. Due to delivery timelines and supply chain challenges, construction and installation will begin this fall.
Wychwood Library Reopening Soon!
Our beloved Wychwood Library will finally be reopening very soon after years of work and it’s certainly bigger and better. Thanks to the Toronto Public Library for preserving the heritage of this space while providing new programs for our community. Stay tuned for details about our grand reopening event!
A More Beautiful Oriole Parkway is Near!
I’m happy to announce that I’ll be hosting a Community Meeting with the Oriole Park Association to discuss improvements to the Oriole Parkway Median on June 27, 2022 at 4pm. The revitalization of the median has been on the drawing board for many years. We’re finally a step closer to seeing this come to fruition. This meeting will afford Oriole Park residents the opportunity to share feedback on the proposed designs as we finalize plans toward reconstruction in 2023. I want to make a point of acknowledging that I have heard from some residents who have expressed concerns about any new design impeding their ability to access their driveway. I can assure you that your feedback will be an integral part of whatever we move forward with together. Details on how to join can be found here.
Beautifying Wychwood Heights BIA Streetscape
Many of the planters on St. Clair West, between Bathurst and Christie, have been abandoned and left in unsightly conditions. I’ve met with the chair of the Wychwood Heights BIA, and Economic Development staff to request that the planters are beautified and maintained, or they be removed until there is a plan in place. The chair committed to providing a plan over the next three weeks and I’ll update our community when my office receives it. Our St. Clair West streetscape must be vibrant and beautified. The community and I will accept nothing less.
The City of Toronto’s “eglintonTOday” Proposal
In 2014, City Council proactively approved a plan for a complete street design for Eglinton, along with a strategy in regards to streetscape improvements and midrise built form. This was done to ensure that there would be a plan in place in preparation for the day when Metrolinx, a provincial transit agency, was finally complete with construction of the Crosstown LRT. However, recently, City Staff have initiated an implementation proposal they call “eglintonTOday”, in which they are recommending an interim plan for the street’s reconstruction.
First of all, the consultation process has come across to many residents as disingenuous. The city has spent a lot of money on advertisements in TTC shelters, on social media, and elsewhere, to consult on a proposal that includes bike lanes. What is hard to rationalize is why they would be consulting on the possibility of bike lanes, when in real life, Metrolinx has already completed construction of separated bike lanes on sections of Eglinton in proximity to their stations. However one feels about bike lanes, City Staff must explain why the city is consulting now on something that is already partially completed.
Moreover, after a decade of excessive and unfair traffic buildup in neighbourhoods including Cedarvale and Chaplin Estates, I am convinced and adamant that it is necessary to encourage drivers to no longer see neighbourhood streets as their preferred option – particularly on their way and back from the Allen Expressway. I am also very concerned with bicyclist and pedestrian safety in a plan that does not grapple with existing traffic challenges. The plan forward, while it should be beautifully designed and encourage active transportation, must also pragmatically recognize the issues we have with the long lineups of drivers trying to access the Allen every single day. It must be navigable, functional, and safe, and importantly, provide a plan to actually manage traffic affecting our neighbourhoods rather than simply allowing for the traffic to go through them. I am working very closely with my colleague Councillor Mike Colle, who represents the north side of Eglinton, to ensure that our community’s voices are heard each and every step through this process.
During the month of May, I hosted a Barbershop Townhall with Gary Richards, owner of Gary’s Barber & Beauty Salon (479 Oakwood Avenue). I appreciated an honest & thoughtful conversation with local residents, business owners and Oakwood Village BIA about the Oakwood-Vaughan community, the future of Little Jamaica, and the hard but necessary work we’re taking on together.
TD Salsa on St.Clair: Saturday July 9th and Sunday July 10th
TD Salsa on St. Clair is the only festival where people do more than just eat and watch entertainment – they take part in non-stop dancing in the streets! Come enjoy Canada’s hottest salsa party featuring an international caliber of Latin music, authentic cuisine, and a fiesta for lovers of all Latino culture on Saturday July 9th and Sunday July 10th on St.Clair West between Winona Road and Christie Street.
Fun Fair Round-Up: Cottingham PS Fun Fair & Cedarvale Community School
I can’t express well enough in words how much I appreciate being able to celebrate, and once again, enjoy time with people we care about. I was able to attend both the Cottingham Public School and Cedarvale Community School’s fun fair for the first time in two years. It’s worth mentioning that the proceeds from the Cedarvale fun fair is going towards the FCJ Refugee Centre.
My daughter Molly and I had a wonderful time at both events!
Indigenous Peoples History Month at St. Matthew’s United Church
June is Indigenous Peoples History Month. In honor of this month, The Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Group at St. Matthew’s United Church invites you to participate in their various events and activities throughout the summer. Please visit their webpage to view their itinerary and learn more about the programs.
Afternoon Visit at Russell Retirement Residence
Thanks to the Russell Hill Retirement Residence for inviting me to have a thoughtful conversation today about our Toronto Seniors Strategy, community planning, many local & city priorities and concerns about the Ford government’s plan to build Highway 413 through the Greenbelt.
Visit the Durham Caribbean Festival!
Wells Hill Lawn Bowling Club: Shovels in the ground
I was recently invited to a “shovels in the ground” ceremony with the club members and President of the Wells Hill Lawn Bowling Club located at the soon-to-be-opened Wychwood Library. The sod turning ceremony was an important symbolic step towards celebrating the eventual reopening—and check out that gorgeous spade. We’re all very excited!
Local Farmers’ Markets in Toronto-St. Paul’s
Wychwood Barns Farmers’ Market
Come visit the Barns’ indoor/outdoor Farmer’s Market (located at 601 Christie Street) to check out the selection of local products and treats. Every Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30pm, year round, you’ll find all your favourite vendors there. It’s so delightful to witness the vibrancy restored at the market!
Davisville Village Farmer’s Market
Come support AppleTree Markets every Tuesday between 3 and 7pm as June Rowlands Park transforms into the Davisville Village Farmer’s Market; make some friends and buy some local goodies!
Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market
Come join the Little Jamaica community at the Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market, Sundays from 11am to 3pm. I look forward to seeing you there!
The OVCO is hiring for a Tenant Outreach Facilitator!
The Oakwood-Vaughan Community Organization (OVCO) is hiring a part time position. The organization is a volunteer/resident led non-profit in the Oakwood Vaughan/Little Jamaica Community; they work to bring forward the voices of marginalized and underrepresented communities in city planning and policy making. Please ensure your subject line states “Confidential: OVCO Tenant Outreach Facilitator”. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more please visit their website.
Black Youth Music Project
Smart Commute 2022 Challenge
The City of Toronto’s Smart Commute team is challenging all Toronto residents to adopt a smart commute in 2022!
To support you, they have created a series of newsletters, each one focusing on a different sustainable commute mode: transit, carpooling, walking, cycling, driving less often and even remote work! Complete the survey to be entered into a monthly draw for a chance to win one of three $50 gift cards for Mountain Equipment Company (MEC), Canadian Tire or The Bay. Don’t forget to share details of the tips you utilised with #MySmartCommute on Twitter! For more information please visit their webpage.
NIA Centre for the Arts
NIA Centre is renovating their space on 524 Oakwood Avenue and would like the input of local residents. To provide your feedback, please complete the survey located here.
Community Education Workshop on Homelessness
#ShopLittleJamaica2Win for prizes: June 20th to August 28th
OAKWOOD VILLAGE BIA MAGAZINE LAUNCH PARTY – June 24th @ Oakwood Library (341 Oakwood Ave)
📅 June 24th, 2022 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
📍In-person at 341 Oakwood Ave, Toronto (Toronto Public Library Auditorium)
Everyone is invited to join June 24th in #OakwoodVillage for the Magazine Launch party! Oakwood Village so excited to be unveiling and celebrating this amazing local publication! There will be treats, meet and greets, and lots of copies of this incredible free local publication featuring Oakwood Village BIA business stories, public art, local landmarks map, and so much more to explore.
Back to School Supplies Drive
What’s Happening at Central Eglinton Community Centre