I hope this finds you healthy and well. As always, I hope that you find this e-newsletter helpful and informative.
Due to the upcoming municipal election on October 24th, integrity rules state that I am unable to send out community updates after August 1st. Therefore, you will receive my next update later in the fall if I continue to have the honour to serve you. Over the past four years, we have achieved so much together, in every one of our Toronto-St. Paul’s neighbourhoods and the many important initiatives we have brought to City Hall to improve our city.
As a community, we have looked out for each other throughout the pandemic, and for that, I am forever grateful.
Between now and after the election, if there is an urgent matter, please continue to feel welcome to email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the City of Toronto directly by calling 311 or using the 311 App.
My family and I hope to see you throughout the summer and I wish you, and those you love, my very best wishes, good health, and quality time with each other.
August in Toronto-St. Paul’s
This August, there are some amazing farmers’ markets and other events going on here in Midtown for you to enjoy. Let’s support the organizers, vendors and enjoy this beautiful summer together. More information on many of these events is provided throughout this newsletter.
Keeping Toronto Plugged in When Rogers Goes Out
The Rogers outage earlier this month demonstrated the integral role that telecommunications access plays in the safety and functioning of our society. Friends and family were unable to contact each other at critical moments, email disruptions brought many companies to a standstill, small businesses were forced to close, and many Torontonians were unable to purchase basic necessities.
The outage also impacted City services in Toronto. Because of the cellular disruption, Rogers customers were unable to call 911 and wading pools were closed as the City has a policy that requires wading pool lifeguards to have a working phone.
It is clear that redundancies and alternatives are necessary to both avoid a similar occurrence in the future and ensure that internet services are made available to all Torontonians, including those with lower-incomes.
The internet is no longer a luxury. Children need to be connected for school, seniors to avoid social isolation, and wi-fi connection is now a basic requirement to find and keep a job. That’s why I was disappointed when the Mayor’s Executive Committee buried plans for an expanded ConnectTO program that would have seen the broadband network the City is already building to support basic services expanded to provide a public telecommunications alternative for everyone and free or low-cost wifi to low-income individuals.
I’m delighted to report that my motion was supported at Council last week, and requests Staff to look into the effects of the outage and reviving the ConnectTO program. For more information, please see this article on ConnectTO.
Ombudsman’s Interim Report on Summer 2021 Encampment Clearings
I believe that encampments are not the answer to homelessness. Homes are-along with social supports for those who need them. I also believe that the approach that we take toward our city’s most vulnerable must never involve violence. Our tactics should always be humane and results-oriented.
Many of us watched with deep concern as footage from the violent encampment clearings played on the news last summer. City-led actions to evict homeless people from several parks involved heavily-armed police using what appeared to most reasonable people as excessive force.
Moreover, the actions were unsuccessful as many of the individuals forcibly removed from parks just ended up under a bridge, on street corners, or another park. That’s why I was pleased to see the Ombudsman release an interim report on the issue of the encampment clearings.
While the report is preliminary, with a final version expected early next year, there were several recommendations to help ensure more fairness, transparency, and accountability in the City’s response to encampments in City parks, including:
- Developing a detailed plan outlining how and when it will update its protocol, and committing adequate resources to ensure the update’s timely completion.
- Holding public consultations with the community, including people with lived experience in encampments, and ensuring their feedback informs the protocol’s update.
- Clearly outlining the Encampment Office’s role and mandate, sharing this information publicly, and ensuring it has enough resources to effectively carry out its duties.
To read the Ombudsman’s Interim Report on Encampment Clearings, please click here.
Stopping by the Markets
Summer is the time for farmers’ markets, and in the past weeks, I paid some lovely visits to the Afro-Caribbean, Davisville, Eglinton Way and Wychwood Barns markets. We’re so lucky to have them transform our neighbourhood spaces into vibrant “town squares”. I was able to have an opportunity to chat with so many different vendors: many of these talented individuals literally reinvented their lives during the pandemic. Their stories are truly inspiring! Please come and support these amazing local businesses.
Davisville Village Farmers’ Market: Every Tuesday from 3pm to 7pm in June Rowlands Park (Mt. Pleasant and Davisville)
Eglinton Way BIA Farmers’ Market: Every Sunday from 8am to 1pm, 125 Burnaby Blvd. (Eglinton and Castle Knock)
Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market: Every Sunday from 11am to 3pm in Reggae Lane (Eglinton and Oakwood)
Wychwood Barns Farmers’ Market: Every Saturday from 8am to 1pm at the Barns (Christie and Benson)
Demanding Better Ways to do Road and Sidewalk Construction
Updating and repairing aging infrastructure is always important for a community, but recent experiences in the Cedarvale and Humewood neighbourhoods have shown that the route to new roads and sidewalks can be paved with disorganization and a troubling lack of coordination. While I am advocating for neighbourhoods here in Toronto-St. Paul’s, I have also heard form residents across our city that this is a systemic problem.
In August 2021, the road reconstruction on Heathdale Road demonstrated the issues that the City of Toronto has in ensuring that contractor work, especially on our local roadways, is done thoughtfully and professionally. Throughout the work on Heathdale, while residents on the street were given notices of the work, no other stakeholders were given notice, leaving many landscaping contractors for residents and most importantly Canada Post refusing to service the street while the construction was underway. Many residents received notices from Canada Post advising that they would not be sending their staff onto Heathdale Road and that they could instead pick up their mail at a sortation centre at Keele and Lawrence. As many of us lead incredibly busy lives and want to make time for family and loved ones, this was absolutely unacceptable.
More recently, the neighbourhood of Cedarvale had to endure two poorly managed road and sidewalk reconstruction projects on Strathearn Road and Glen Cedar Road. With Glen Cedar and Strathearn closed due to the construction, no alternate routes and/or signage was provided for drivers trying to get up to the Allen Expressway, making it impossible for local residents to leave or get back to their homes due to lines of traffic during rush hour. Moreover, City Staff did not ensure that their own contractors and those of Metrolinx, a provincial agency, were co-ordinating well enough together.
That is why I moved a motion at the most recent meeting of City Council that would see Engineering and Construction Services take a more proactive approach in how they engage with communities and stakeholders when it comes to planning this type of work. Moreover, I have requested staff to report back on their ability to halt contractor work if necessary. I was pleased to see this motion pass and will be reaching out to the General Manager of Transportation Services, the Chief Engineer, and the Executive Director of Engineering and Constructions Services to ensure that future roadwork in our community and across Toronto does not repeat the same mistakes. I believe Toronto can and must do better.
Bringing a New Community Health Centre to Oakwood-Vaughan
Since I was elected to represent much of the Little Jamaica and Oakwood-Vaughan community, I have heard from residents that there is a critical need for local health services, supporting both physical and mental health.
Therefore, I have been strongly advocating that new development on Eglinton, where possible, must provide space dedicated for community amenities such as a health clinic and other important services.
I am delighted to announce that we have reached an agreement to do just that, with an interdivisional team of City Staff. Not only will we be achieving a community health hub, but also other amenities such as programming and recreation space. Timetables and complete details are still being looked at, but I look forward to providing further updates on these exciting achievements in upcoming e-newsletters.
Happy Pride, Toronto!
Last month, I was so happy to be back celebrating Pride in person. I’m proud that our Toronto-St. Paul’s community is inclusive, supportive, and respects the right of all of us to be who we are are and love who we love.
Leaf Blower Updates
At the most recent meeting of City of Council, my colleagues and I raised the many complaints that we receive when it comes to noise from modified cars, motorcycles, and perhaps most importantly, two-stroke gas-powered leaf blowers. I have heard from many of you that the near-constant chorus of leaf blowers from Spring to Fall has had wide ranging impacts on quality of life in our community. I firmly believe that there is absolutely no need for the use of gas-powered leaf blowers given the dense built form of our community here in midtown when quieter and more environmentally conscious alternatives exist.
While, in my opinion, item EC31.4 – “Report on Outstanding Noise Directives” did not go far enough in seeking to implement an outright ban on two-stroke gas-powered leaf blowers, I believe that we are working towards the logical end of this issue and a motion on fully banning two-stroke gas-powered leaf blowers will be considered early next year. This will have my complete and enthusiastic support.
Metrolinx Awards $1.38 Million Dollars to 11 Local BIAs:
Small businesses, along with local residents, have been treated as collateral damage during Metrolinx’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT project. Over the years, I joined small business owners’ and BIAs’ calls to our province for compensation. Following an announcement made by Transportation Minister Mulroney in 2020 on awarding additional funds to businesses that were impacted by the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, I advocated with the Eglinton BIA Alliance, a group made up of 7 BIAs, to convene a business support table. This business support table would work in conjunction with MPP Robin Martin, Metrolinx and City Staff to determine how to best allocate these funds. After countless meetings, the table agreed to funnel the $1.38 million dollars allocated to 11 BIAs to grant programs that will provide each BIA with an opportunity to undertake research, marketing, promotion and other creative initiatives specific to their area needs, or invest in streetscape master plans or capital initiatives.
I look forward to working with each local BIA to ensure that the funds allocated are used to make Eglinton Avenue vibrant and sustainable. To review the full report, please click here.
Durham Caribbean Festival
It was my heartfelt pleasure to honor my friends and community leaders, Star Jacobs, Elaine Robinson and Lori Beazer at the Durham Caribbean Festival on Eglinton. It was an amazing time, and together, we’re actively supporting, loving and celebrating Little Jamaica. Congratulations to Mary Galvan on a very successful event!
An Agreement to Expand Eglinton P.S.
It is unacceptable that provincial planning policy, while it supports new towers in the Yonge and Eglinton area, does not ensure that our communities’ quality of life can keep up with the pace of growth with regard to social services, infrastructure, and new parks. Despite the Ford government’s changes to our Midtown in Focus plan, I continue to actively look for opportunities to ensure that we achieve our community’s goals. For far too long, the school boards have placed notices next to proposed new developments informing prospective residents that their children may not be able to go to a local school due to a lack of capacity. As your advocate, and as a local parent myself, that’s not good enough.
I’m delighted to announce that, working closely with Trustee Laskin, we have reached an agreement to ensure that Eglinton Public School will finally have the opportunity to expand. This will not only support the Eglinton P.S. community, but will also mitigate pressure on surrounding midtown schools. Moreover, we are also actively pursuing a new public school at the Canada Square site at Yonge and Eglinton. Kids shouldn’t have to be bussed out of their own neighbourhood because the province hasn’t provided them the opportunity to go to school with their neighbours. Local schools are important because they contribute to social cohesion and a sense of community. I’d rather our kids spend more time in extra-curricular activities and playing together on our neighbourhood streets, rather than sitting on the bus. Please expect more details as plans come through to fruition in an upcoming e-newsletter and through the TDSB.
Wychwood Library Update
I have heard from many members of the community who are so excited to be able to once again enjoy the Wychwood Library, now bigger and better than ever thanks to Toronto Public Library (TPL)! The new design preserves its heritage while providing new and exciting programs for our community. While the TPL is currently working hard to resolve some important safety matters, my office and I have been working closely with them and Toronto Buildings to have a reopening event as soon as possible by the end of this summer (realistically, some time in September). As I won’t be able to send out an e-newsletter in the coming months due to the election, please email email@example.com if you would like to be made aware of the reopening when it is scheduled!
Townhall at Christie Gardens
After two years apart, I was delighted to be invited to Christine Gardens to host a townhall conversation with this vibrant and thoughtful Seniors’ Community.
Wychwood Playground Meeting
A few years ago, some local residents came together to lead an initiative to improve the Wychwood Barns Park Playground. While this was originally planned to be a community-funded initiative, I am happy to announce that I was able to have Parks Staff move up $300,000 in the 10-year capital plan to complete this project next year! I am grateful to everyone who attended the initial public meeting I hosted to kickstart this project, and a public survey will soon be available on the City of Toronto’s website. For more information and to sign up for project updates, please click here. I want to reiterate that this would not be happening without the leadership and hard work of some very inspiring local residents whose efforts I am proud to actively support. Thank you to the Friends of Wychwood Barns Park.
24th Annual Helena Avenue Street Party
Streets don’t get happier than Helena Avenue! Thanks for inviting my family and me to celebrate with you all at the annual street party where there was some tug-of-war and face painting. I’m so grateful we’re able to celebrate together again!
Cawthra Playground Improvements Complete
Cawthra Playground at 349 Albany Avenue is now complete and open to the public. This park expansion for our community will provide more green space & recreation, while increasing shade on hot summer days and tree planting. It’s now yours to enjoy!
Other Park Updates for Toronto-St. Paul’s
I’m happy to announce that work on many park projects across the ward is continuing this summer. To view a list of recently completed, ongoing, and upcoming park improvements in Toronto-St. Paul’s, please see my website here.
A Visit to The Balmoral Fire Station
Thank you to the Knights of Balmoral for the honest and wide-ranging conversation today. They are clearly more than colleagues: they support each other like family. I’m deeply grateful to all Toronto firefighters for the courageous service you provide to our community every day.
Exploring a New Community Space for the Frankel-Lambert Neighbourhood
The St. Bruno’s Catholic Elementary School has been at the heart of the Frankel-Lambert community, near Christie and Dupont, for decades. Former students have seen their children and grandchildren attend the school. The school has also operated as a Community Hub by hosting sporting events, Christmas pageants, fun fairs, and other events for the wider area. Unfortunately, due to declining enrolment, St. Bruno’s has been merged with St. Raymond’s School. Losing this public space would rip the heart out of the area. The Frankel Lambert neighbourhood is a diverse community, home to one of the highest concentrations of cooperative housing in the west end of Toronto. The residents are already facing a deficit of services, which would be made worse if the St. Bruno’s site were to be turned over to private interests.
The decision regarding the future of St. Bruno rests with the Toronto District Catholic School Board, but I have been working with the community, Trustee Norm Di Pasquale, and City Staff to urge them to keep this public land in public hands and to serve the community. Following a public meeting that I hosted with Trustee Di Pasquale and City Staff, a community working group, led by City Staff, has been convened and will meet again during the fall to continue to explore this.
Beautifying Wychwood Heights BIA Streetscape Update:
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 has advised that each local merchant has adopted a planter and will be responsible for planting and maintaining the seasonal/annual flowers and shrubs. Our community looks forward to seeing our St. Clair West streetscape beautified!
Touring the NIA Centre
It’s my pleasure to actively support the NIA Centre for the Arts’ efforts to redevelop their home on Oakwood into an even more remarkable multi-purpose arts and programming space. The hub will boast a 160-seat performance theatre, co-working spaces, and digital arts incubation studios amongst many other amenities. Thank you to Nam Lester and Alica Hall for the wonderful conversation and tour of the progress being made.
Join the Community Effort to Protect and Produce Affordable Housing in Oakwood Vaughan
With the support of the Oakwood Vaughan Community Organization and CP Planning, community leaders have stepped forward to establish a working group to reach out and collaborate with property owners and real estate agents to increase the supply of affordable housing in the neighbourhood.
We seek to connect with property owners and real estate agents interested in learning and committing to actions to help produce affordable housing in the neighbourhood. If you are interested in increasing affordable housing supply, please fill out the survey by clicking here.
OVBIA Magazine Launch
I was thrilled to partake in the Oakwood Village Magazine launch where they organized a street party on Holland Park Avenue to mark the occasion. This is an initiative by our amazing Oakwood Village BIA and you’re encouraged to pick up a copy at any of the local stores in the neighbourhood!
A Message From The Cedarvale and Upper Village Community Association
“The Cedarvale & Upper Village Community Association is a group of residents and stakeholders united by common goals: the safety, accessibility, and vibrancy of our neighbourhood.
Our area is experiencing significant change with the new Eglinton Crosstown LRT opening at our doorstep, several development projects in full swing or under consideration, and a City of Toronto initiative underway for a complete redesign of Eglinton Avenue.
Recent months have shown what happens when traffic on Eglinton doesn’t move effectively: traffic spills onto our residential streets and sidewalks, endangering our children, polluting our air, and destroying neighborhood businesses.
When we come together as a community, with the support of our dedicated councillors, a strong voice, a clear vision, and a collaborative spirit, we can have a seat at the table and effect positive change.
The Cedarvale & Upper Village Community Association sees the neighbourhood’s potential as so much more than just a gateway to the Allen Expressway. It should be home to first-class transit, exciting shops and services, vibrant parks, and inviting public spaces. To achieve that, we must challenge old assumptions and ill-advised plans and come together to create a better future for Cedarvale & Upper Village around a functional Eglinton Avenue.
Learn more and register your concerns about EglintonTOday by July 31, 2022 at toronto.ca/eglintonTOday.
The Cedarvale & Upper Village Community Association website will soon go live at cedarvaleuppervillage.com;
Until then, you can connect with us at:
Music in Suydam Park
Forest Hill Village BIA is proud to announce that the free acoustic concert series, Music in Suydam Park, is back for their 5th season. You can find it every Saturday afternoon from 1 to 3pm through August and September!
Please note this event is weather dependent and does not take place in inclement weather. More details can be located here.
Visit Rastafest in Little Jamaica!
FMTA’s Tenant School Program
You can now register for the FMTA’s Tenant School program which provides training to tenants and tenant association leaders about your rights under the law and how you can organize with your neighbours.
Some workshops will be over Zoom and others will be held in person at Christie Pits Park (across from Christie subway stop on the Bloor line).
Here is the schedule of workshops:
Tuesday, August 9, 7-8:30 pm: Introduction to Landlord-Tenant Law
Wednesday, August 10, 7-8:30 pm: Human Rights and Housing
Thursday, August 11, 7-8:30 pm: City Hall 101
At Christie Pits:
Sunday, August 14, 11:30 am – 4:30 pm:
*Getting Repairs Done
*Community Organizing and Tenant Associations
To register, please fill out the form available at: https://forms.gle/5282HckCfkxp73116
STEPS Public Art: The Mane Event!
STEPS, in partnership with Cultural Hotspot, the BBPA, and D’Andra Montaque, founder of Empress Mane and long-time resident of Little Jamaica, brings forward a series of six community arts workshops, exploring the important role hair plays in Black identity and community, while honoring the important contributions of Salons and Barbershops in the past, present, and future of Little Jamaica. One event remains, on August 7th from 3pm to 6pm. Check out the poster below for more information!
Toronto Cares Community Fair!
Smart Commute 2022 Challenge
The City of Toronto’s Smart Commute team is challenging all Toronto residents to adopt a smart commute in 2022! The campaign is running until September with a different mode of transportation emphasized month.
For the month of July, the focus is on walking (with August being carpooling and September on remote work). For more information please visit their webpage.
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!
Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan National Healing Forests Events in August and September
““Plants Are Medicines:” Celebration in honour of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the Launch of National Healing Forests in Toronto’s West End, Bickford Centre and Park, at Bloor and Christie Streets. Tuesday, August 9, 6 p.m.
Take a walk in Bickford Park and learn about the many native trees and other plant species now thriving in this greenspace above a buried waterway. Johl Whiteduck Ringuette of Miinikaan Innovation & Design will share Plant Teachings, and we will look to the healing that plants and re-wilded green spaces bring to the city. At 8 p.m., Elder Catherine Brooks will be joined by Traditional Drummers and Dancers to recognize Miinikaan’s Indigenous Teaching Garden as part of the National Healing Forests-Toronto initiative, along with Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan on St. Clair West and Tollkeeper’s Park on Davenport Road.
We will remember those lost to or forever changed by the Residential and Day Schools and the Canadian Child Welfare and Justice systems. We will acknowledge the work of Indigenous-led organizations such as Miinikaan and event sponsor, Anishnawbe Health, to rekindle our commitment to learning the truth of Canadian history and finding a way forward to reconciliation.
Fall Equinox Ceremony in the Noojimo’iwewin Gitigaan Healing Garden, St. Clair W. and Rushton Road: Sunday, September 18: 12: p.m.
We will celebrate our harvest, and Urban Agriculture Week, around the Sacred Fire, led by Elder Catherine.
Every Child Matters: Commemorating Orange Shirt Day/National Day of Truth & Reconciliation in Tollkeeper’s Park, Davenport Road and Bathurst Street: Fri, Sept 30: 2:00 p.m.
Elder Catherine Brooks will lead us in a Ceremony of Commemoration, and will share something of her mother’s story as a Residential School Survivor. We will recognize Tollkeeper’s Park as a National Healing Forests site, acknowledging the long friendship between Community History Project founder, Jane Beecroft, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. After the Ceremony, we will have an opportunity to meet over Chef Charles Catchpole’s Tea & Bannock in the Tollkeeper’s Cottage garden.
We are grateful to our generous donors, including the World Wildlife Fund and TD Park People, for funding honoraria for Indigenous collaborators in these events.”
Midtown Yonge BIA Connects! Through Animation & Art Project: Community Input Survey
“The Midtown Yonge BIA is currently undertaking “Midtown Yonge BIA Connects! Through Community Animation & Art”, an ambitious project to define a shared sense of community identity through public art.
The BIA believes public art is key in building their business community back better from the pandemic, enlivening the streetscape after years of development, making the area more welcoming and friendly, and fostering place-making.
The Midtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a membership of local business people and property owners who work in partnership with the City to enhance their business district. The BIA’s boundaries are along Yonge Street from Merton Street in the south to Soudan Avenue in the north. More info at: midtownyongebia.ca and on Instagram @midtownyongebia
We are currently inviting the local community of residents and businesses to give input about the area by participating in this survey. This survey can be filled out until August 30, 2022.
Thank you for your participation and feedback!”
#ShopLittleJamaica2Win for prizes: June 20th to August 28th
York-Eglinton BIA is delighted to announce a marketing promotion to help encourage people to support local businesses in the community.
There will be a weekly $1,000 draw from all the photos of shopping receipts uploaded to the contest website. $500 is kept by the winner and $500 is shared with the business that issued the winning receipt. That means you get multiple chances to win $500 every week!
Caring for our Gardens and Ravines – What are we doing? What can you do?
“Our ravines, natural areas and gardens play an important role in our ward. Several City initiatives speak to the importance of biodiversity, pollinators and ravine health. Two volunteer-based organizations are here to support you in making a difference, by removing invasive plants and replacing them with native plants.
Toronto Nature Stewards (TNS) trains volunteers across the city to restore and maintain healthy ravines and natural areas, in partnership with Parks, Forestry and Recreation. Volunteers steward 23 sites on City land. See torontonaturestewards.org/get-involved/become-a-steward/ for sites and schedules. TNS also provides information about stewarding private property: privateproperty.torontonaturestewards.org/
Toronto Master Gardeners (TMG) are horticulturalists who volunteer their time to provide current science-based advice to home gardeners. TMG’s Invasive Species Initiative torontomastergardeners.ca/invasive-species-awareness-initiative provides information about common plants that can escape from gardens and become invasive in our ravines and natural areas.
Please join us in our stewardship and gardening initiatives to remove invasives and plant native species. Our combined actions protect biodiversity, support pollinators and create ecological resilience in a time of climate change.
Fairbank Pool Festival