Standing in Solidarity With Ukraine
Canada’s Ukrainian community is such an important thread in our country’s multicultural mosaic. I am proud to stand with them in solidarity against Russian aggression and in support of Ukraine’s right to sovereignty, freedom, peace and security.
I am pleased to announce that I have been working closely with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress on an honorary renaming of St. Clair Avenue East in front of the Russian Consulate. Moving forward, the area of St. Clair Avenue between Yonge and Avoca will be known as “Free Ukraine Square”. I will be joining the UCC and Mayor Tory for the unveiling of the square this Sunday morning.
May the glory and freedom of Ukraine never perish.
Happy St Patrick’s Day!
On behalf of my office, I would like to extend a Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Toronto’s Irish Community. Slainte!
Wishing everyone in our Jewish community a Chag Purim Sameach. A life is simply incomplete until you’ve enjoyed a hamantaschen, washed down by a glass of Manischewitz, while wearing a costume. Enjoy this celebration with family and friends!
Oakwood-Vaughan Youth Space And Seniors Digital Literacy Program Successfully Added To 2022 Toronto Budget
Thanks to your effective advocacy, I am very pleased to report that two important community programs I brought to council on your behalf were approved at City Council as part of the 2022 budget. With the support of your emails and phone calls, the youth space we established at Oakwood & Vaughan was saved, and an innovative digital literacy program for low-income seniors was funded.
I appreciate that Mayor Tory was convinced to take carriage of my motion to protect our community’s new youth space, and I’m very grateful to Councillor Paul Ainslie, Chair of the Toronto Public Library Board, who was instrumental in garnering support for my Seniors Digital Literacy Program motion.
Support for At-Risk Youth at Oakwood & Vaughan:
Last year, I was pleased to work with the For Youth Initiative (FYI) to open a youth space on Oakwood Ave. FYI is a service provider that supports Black, racialized and newcomer youth in navigating systemic barriers, planning for the future and accessing resources and mentorship they need to thrive. In the short time since its launch the program has already supported youth through: providing PPE, food vouchers, TTC fares, local employment and mentorship opportunities, access to vaccines, counselling, scholarships, mental health programs and tutoring.
Unfortunately, due to COVID and other budget pressures, the space did not have funding secured in Toronto’s 2022 budget. As a result of your advocacy, and cooperative work between my office, Mayor Tory, and City Staff, we found a resolution that will see the FYI program add 2 full-time youth workers and cover their capital costs.
This youth space is part of our community strategy to address the roots of violence by offering supports and opportunities to racialized, newcomer, and low-income young people. This strategy has already seen the implementation of targeted programs to support those most at-risk and broader programs, including youth spaces, at community centres and libraries.
Seniors Digital Literacy Program
The Seniors Digital Literacy Program is an initiative of the Toronto Public Library (TPL) to foster social connectedness inclusion. The community-based program is designed in partnership with Toronto Community Housing (TCH) to engage socially isolated seniors by bringing regularly scheduled library services, delivered by a community librarian, directly to the TCH seniors’ buildings.
While isolation and loneliness among seniors is not a new problem, it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Delivering in-person library services and supports to get seniors online will help alleviate that isolation. That’s why it was disappointing to see that the program was not supported at the City’s Budget Committee, despite being recommended by the TPL in the 2022 budget.
Thanks to your advocacy, and the work of dedicated TPL staff who recognized the value of this service, Council supported a motion from myself, with the support of Councillor Ainslie, to revive the program.
Toronto Needs to Improve Snow Clearing: Demanding Accountability
The City’s response to the snowstorm on January 17th, 2022 was completely inadequate and unacceptable. While I understand that it could take several days to clear out from a major storm that dumped 55 centimetres on Toronto in just over 16 hours, many residents still had not had their street cleared two weeks later. That is simply not good enough.
The City’s inability to provide timely service limited many Torontonians’ mobility. Uncleared sidewalks and parking in front of long-term care homes left many seniors and caregivers homebound. Pick-up/drop-off areas and sidewalks around schools left many students and parents with no choice but to walk in live lanes of traffic to and from school. In fact, local roads across our city were left untouched for weeks.
Adding to our frustration, was the City’s constant reference to the PlowTO map that purported to give real-time data on the progress of clearing and salting operations. However, as many logged on to the map, residents were shocked to find that the city had already marked their street as cleared, only to look out their window and see a completely different reality on the ground.
We all deserve answers regarding this failure and assurances that it will never happen again. That’s why I’m pleased to report that my request to the City’s Auditor General to investigate the City’s inadequate snow removal was approved at the most recent Audit Committee meeting. I will be sure to update you when the Auditor General delivers her report on accountability, and just as importantly, recommendations on improvement.
Rental Replacement Rules to be Strengthened
Toronto’s rental replacement policy is one of the strongest tools the City has to protect affordable housing as it is unappealable at the Ontario Lands Tribunal, or any other body. This power, through Section 111 of the City of Toronto Act, allows the City to require developers to replace units demolished in the construction of new condos and provide new apartments at the same rent.
Many residents were shocked when they learned in 2020 that the former CEO of CreateTO, the City’s real estate development agency, offered replacement rental units to staff and family members in a condo near Yonge and Davisville; breaking the City’s policy. Given the City’s responsibility to act quickly to restore public trust in an important program, I worked with the Mayor on a motion to have the Auditor General holistically evaluate the Rental Replacement program.
The Auditor General delivered her report and recommended that City Planning implement significant changes to the Rental Replacement policy under Section 111 of the City of Toronto Act, including:
- Strengthening requirements for offering affordable rental replacement units through fair, open and transparent processes
- Standardizing affordable rental housing eligibility requirements including updating Section 111 Agreements
- Harmonizing processes and requirements for administering affordable rental housing
I will be working with my colleagues to ensure these recommendations pass at Council next month. Please read this article for more information.
Bringing our Streets to Life and Supporting Small Businesses: Extending CafeTO for 2022
Many responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have fundamentally changed the way we look at our streets in Toronto. As one of the main transformative programs that we have seen throughout the community, CafeTO has brought life back to our streets.
The CafeTO program has been a lifeline for restaurants and cafés throughout the pandemic, allowing for patrons to return to their local favorites during the rollback of capacity limits last spring and to give diners a unique experience during their meals. I was proud to support the motion at council back in November 2021 that would see the program extended into 2022 with a greater focus on pedestrian accessibility, maintenance of the public right of way, adjustments for parking service deliveries, and better design standards to bring an even better dining experience for patrons.
If you or someone you know operates a restaurant or café, the applications for CafeTO have officially opened with the deadline to apply being April 2nd, 2022. By following this link, you can fill out any required forms to apply and should you run into any trouble, feel welcome to reach out to my office at email@example.com for further assistance.
Protecting Public Safety Near Railways
Last week, Council paved the way to empower City Staff to adopt a safer, more consistent approach to intensification proposals adjacent to rail corridors, including the CP line that runs along the southern boundary of our community. As described in the report below, this is the culmination of consultations dating back to 2017.
For more information, please review the following report: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2022/ph/bgrd/backgroundfile-198967.pdf or feel welcome to contact Brooke Marshall, Senior Planner: Brooke.Marshall@toronto.ca
Improving Safety on Avenue Road
For far too long, Torontonians have expressed significant concerns regarding the excessive speed combined with the extremely narrow sidewalks on Avenue Road. Following a number of recent incidents and fatalities involving pedestrians and cyclists, we intensified calls for much-needed pedestrian safety and public realm improvements without any further delay. Working closely with the Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC), my colleague Councillor Mike Layton and I moved numerous motions directing City staff to prioritize safety on Avenue Road and come up with a plan towards achieving same.
Our motions and many meetings have paid off, and I’m finally pleased to announce that the City has acknowledged the need for an intervention plan, and, late last year, appointed Parsons as the consultant for the project. I’ve since been working very closely with officials from Parsons and staff on achieving our goals for Avenue Road. That is why we recently organized a walkabout with officials from Parsons, City staff, the ARSC, and interested residents to assess the inherent safety issues with Avenue Road and collaborate on potential short-term tactical interventions. I will be certain to keep you updated on our progress.
In Memory of Ike Kaja
My heartfelt condolences to Ikechidiadi (Ike) Kaja’s family, friends and fellow Rotman School of Management alumni. Ike will be remembered as kind, energetic, generous and a loving father above all. I want to thank Ike’s friends who invited my family and I to join them for a deeply moving candlelight vigil for the chance to share their grief, love and memories together. Ike will be remembered.
Friends & Family of Ike Kaja establish scholarship fund at Rotman
The Group “Friends of Ike” & Ike’s family are pleased to announce that we will celebrating Ike’s life and ensuring his legacy lives forever by launching a scholarship at Rotman.
The “Ike Justin Kaja” memorial scholarship is expected to leave an everlasting legacy for Ike by financing and supporting a student on an annual basis who embodies the same values as Ike – leadership, kindness, and commitment to making the community a better place. For information on the scholarship click here.
Information Session on Services for Seniors & Caregivers in Toronto
Please attend a Virtual/Telephone Information Session to learn about Services for Seniors & Caregivers in Toronto and Ward 12 on April 5, 2022!
This webinar, hosted by the Seniors Services and Long-Term Care Division, in collaboration with Councillor Matlow’s Office, will provide attendees with information on how and where to access a wide range of services for seniors, such as dental care for low income seniors, deferring your property taxes, the HomeShare (student tenant) program, food access programs, caregiver supports, and more. This free event is open to any interested individuals!
Please also be sure to check out the Directory of Services for Seniors & Caregivers in Toronto, available online or by request at your local Toronto Public Library branch.
- Date: April 5, 2022
- Time: 10:00am-11:30am
Join Online: Click here to join at the time of the session, Password: Seniors
Or join by Phone: 416-915-6530, Access Code: 2456 552 8821, Password: 7364677
Full Webex link: https://toronto.webex.com/toronto/j.php?MTID=m95c1eaa2791409e2fc95dfcaf39a1ace
Vaughan-Oakwood Youth Survey
Clean Toronto Together – Helping Organize Community Cleanups!
Hey Toronto, it’s time for a little spring cleaning! Registration for the City’s annual spring community cleanup is now open. Gather with friends, neighbours and colleagues to help clean up our parks, beaches and other public spaces after a long, cold winter. Let’s Clean Toronto Together! Learn more and register your cleanup at livegreentoronto.ca, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Our office and the City of Toronto will be providing bags and gloves to help with the cleanup, and we would be happy to help organize and spread the word for any neighbourhood cleanups in Toronto-St. Paul’s.
Vaccinating Toronto-St. Paul’s Together
I had the amazing opportunity once more to co-host a vaccine clinic in February alongside York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors, Sinai Health, Women’s College and Toronto Public Health. As we emerge from the pandemic, let’s continue to keep each other safe and healthy!
As always, a big thank you to everyone involved: Lisa Tobio, Executive Director of York-Fairbank Centre for Seniors, the Centre’s volunteers for their help, as well as my trusted partners Dr. Nathan Stall and Dr. Adil Shamji.
Final Episode of BLK: An Origin Story
Join filmmakers Jennifer Holness and Sudz Sutherland, residents of Toronto-St.Paul’s, for the last episode of BLK: An Origin Story. It is a four part documentary series that looks beyond the Underground Railroad to explore the Untold Stories of Black Canadians from the 1600s to the present. The final episode, “John ‘Daddy’ Hall”, will be airing Saturday, March 19th at 9pm on the History Channel and on Global. For more information, click here.
Remembering our Fellow Torontonians
I joined the Interfaith Coalition to Fight Homelessness during the “Broken Hearts Day” rally on February 15th at Nathan Phillips Square to remember the homeless, our fellow Torontonians who have died on our streets and in our shelters. I was proud to support their call for action.
Thanking St. Michael’s and All Angels Church
I was invited to visit St. Michael’s & All Angels Church on St. Clair W. to participate in their foodbank last month. Because of remarkable people like Jenni King and volunteers there, our community is stronger and made better for it: the program they provide, along with many caring initiatives, is truly inspiring. I am deeply grateful and loved my visit with them!
The Stop’s Farmer’s Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns
I recently had a wonderful time while at The Stop’s Market meeting with the thoughtful community members to discuss local priorities and important issues facing our country.
Come visit and shop with our amazing indoor and outdoor vendors at the beloved Wychwood Barns Farmers’ Market (located at 601 Christie Street). You can find them every Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30pm, year round, to appreciate all their local products—they need our support!
Central Eglinton Community Centre Free Income Tax Clinic and Lasagna Lunch
Celebrating Patty Day and Introducing Toronto Patty Fest
February 23rd marked the 37th Patty Day, celebrating a peaceful end to the Patty Wars in the 1980s, and recognizing Little Jamaica as an important cultural and culinary destination.
Coming soon to the Afro-Caribbean Farmers Market in the heart of Little Jamaica this summer (add this to your calendar) – Toronto Patty Fest! Saturday, August 6th, 2022.
Supports Available for Small Businesses in Toronto
The City of Toronto and its partners offer many supports to help small business owners and operators. These include grants, incentives, training, advisory services and a new small business property tax sub-class. Small businesses, including restaurants, are encouraged to take advantage of these resources. More information is available at www.toronto.ca/BusinessSupport
Spreading Awareness of the Save Soil Movement
Save Soil is a global movement launched by Sadhguru to save soil from extinction, and bring the necessary policies to address the catastrophic issue facing humanity. The UN has reported that, unless we rapidly change how we manage our soils, 90% of them could become degraded by 2050, resulting in a global food crisis. In the US, soil degradation has led to an 87% loss of micronutrients in our food. This is a serious yet silent crisis unfolding under our feet.
The Save Soil movement, started with the support of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), aims to address this issue by creating mass awareness amongst 3.5 billion people to support their leaders in instituting policies and actions to revitalize and bring back the topsoil.
This movement has garnered support from global leaders including Marc Benioff, Jane Goodall, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and institutions such as the United Nations -Convention to Combat Desertification, the World Economic Forum and many more. To learn more about this movement, please click here.
Learning happens when students are nourished! Join students across Canada to cook together and work toward a better campus food culture. To learn more about this event, please click here.
March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month
Multiple Myeloma is the second most common form of blood cancer, and every day, an average of 10 Canadians are diagnosed with this incurable disease. There were 3800 Canadians who heard the phrase “You have Multiple Myeloma” last year, and for most, it was likely the first time they had even heard of Multiple Myeloma. Sadly, Multiple Myeloma often goes undiagnosed for some time, because symptoms can be vague – fatigue or anemia, bone pain (resulting from bone fractures), and kidney problems. Huge inequities in accessing vital treatments and healthcare services across Canada are having a serious and direct impact on precious lives. The number of Canadians living with this incurable cancer is rising and with it, the need for better access to treatment therapies and care. Currently, there are very simple tests that can be done to detect Multiple Myeloma early in its development, and thanks to exciting advancements in treatment innovation, people with myeloma are living longer and fuller lives.
More information can be found on Myeloma Canada’a website at www.myeloma.ca.
University of Toronto Aging Study