Leaking roofs, stained carpets, non-functioning elevators, and pest infestations are far too common for renters in Toronto. Some landlords have ignored City orders to fix their properties for years with little consequence; they treat the small fines as the cost of doing business, drag out performing the repairs through appeals, and are even granted time extensions. The system certainly doesn’t give tenants the same leniency when their rent is due.
Working with ACORN, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA), and community legal clinics, I initiated the RentSafe program, approved by Council in 2017, to address the poor living conditions that far too many tenants are facing. When the program was approved, it was one of the most comprehensive, progressive, and rigorous municipal tenant protection initiatives in North America. However, the City has yet to deliver on many crucial measures that Council promised to the 50% of our residents that rent their homes. The following initiatives to protect tenants have not been implemented:
- Apartment rating system similar to the City’s “Dinesafe” program requiring landlords to post a colour-coded sign that displays the City’s rating in a prominent, publicly identifiable location
- Standard operating procedure to provide tenants and Municipal Standards Officers with codified, transparent timelines for how long landlords have to remedy specific property standards violations, eg. Pest infestation needs to be addressed in 5 days, graffiti removed in 10 days, etc.
- Limit time extensions at Property Standards Committee as the Committee has far too frequently granted extensions for landlords to complete necessary repairs or to remedy other property standards violations.
- Administrative Monetary Penalties allowing Municipal Standards Officers to levy increased set fines
To learn more please see this Toronto Star article
Earlier this year, Council approved 11 City-owned sites for development as part of the Housing Now program. During the debate, I moved a motion to ensure that the tenants in these new developments would be protected from the provincial government’s changes to the Residential Tenancies Act that exempted all new apartments from rent control. Unfortunately, this motion was not approved.
Last week, residents of a Weston development that received over $7 million in public funding, including over $600,000 in City tax breaks, were notified of an over 20% rent increase for month-to-month tenancies and 6% for year-long lease holders. Through the efforts of the local Councillor and community members, the property manager has reversed its decision on the 20% increase, but the 6% increase still threatens to push already high rents into the unaffordable range for too many residents.
In light of the shameless Weston rent increase, I worked to revisit this issue. Due to Council procedure that prohibits a member on the losing side of a debate to reopen an item, I worked with Councillors Nunziata and Bradford, and Mayor Tory, on a motion. The motion requests City Staff to report on requiring landlords of Housing Now sites to follow the guideline rent increase amounts as prescribed in the Residential Tenancies Act, just as is required by all other landlords of apartments built prior to the province’s exemption. These landlords are still able to charge whatever rent the market will bear upon opening and can take advantage of vacancy decontrol.
Already wealthy property owners are laughing all the way to the bank because of Doug Ford’s rent exemptions. The City should provide reasonable protection for tenants on its own land as the guideline rent increase provides landlords with inflationary increases while not subjecting tenants to the constant threat of economic eviction.
I will provide an update when this report is delivered to the Planning & Housing Committee early next year.
To learn more about this issue, please see this article
As many of you know, I have been advocating for the City of Toronto to be established as a Charter City through the EmpowerTO campaign. Recent endorsements by Federal MP Adam Vaughan and Ontario MPP Michael Coteau have provided great momentum toward our goal of more autonomy for Toronto.
This week at Council the campaign to establish a City Charter took an important step forward after my colleagues overwhelmingly supported my motion to have the City Manager officially study what a charter might look like and, just as importantly, the path to achieving our goals.
A City Charter would help address a long history of events, including recent meddling in our local election, the denial of highway tolls, and unilateral changes to our land use plans, that have clearly demonstrated that Toronto isn’t able to fulfil basic functions residents expect.
Toronto is Ontario’s capital and will continue to contribute to our Province’s success as a whole. However, it’s time for Canada’s largest city to have the tools it needs to effectively chart its own course to decide how we grow, get around, support each other, and improve our quality of life.
I will be sure to provide an update when the City Manager’s report is delivered.
For more information and to join the EmpowerTO movement, please see this website.
Changing the Culture in Toronto’s Long-Term Care Homes: More Caring, Respectful and Supportive
For the first time in history, there are now more Torontonians over the age of 65 than children aged 15 and under. Looking ahead, the number of people in Toronto aged 65 and over is expected to almost double by 2041. This growth requires the City of Toronto to proactively implement meaningful change to long-term care, including emotion-centred approaches to care that will meet the diverse and complex needs of residents.
In July 2018, I was deeply heartened that my motion passed unanimously by Council to take the first steps toward transforming care within each of the City’s ten Long-Term Care Homes. Through this motion, the City’s former Long-Term Care Homes and Services (LTCHS) Division was requested by Council to report on the potential for a pilot project inspired by care-based programs, such as the Butterfly and Greenhouse Project models, to better support seniors living with dementia, in one of the City’s ten Long-Term Care Homes units. LTCHS engaged Dr. Pat Armstrong, Distinguished Research Professor of Sociology at York University, as an external consultant and researcher to assist in investigating leading models and approaches to dementia care. In her report, Dr. Armstrong and her team concluded the need for increased direct care staffing levels and to not implement one single model of care within Long-Term Care Homes.
While I agree that a flexible model of care should be used across the 10 Long-Term Care Homes, I also firmly believe that an implementation strategy to ensure that all 10 Long-Term Care Homes provide emotion-centred approaches to care should be employed, along with a specific accountability process to measure the plan’s outcomes against stated goals.
I’m proud to announce that at next week’s Economic and Community Development Committee, the new Seniors Services and Long-Term Care (SSLTC) Division will be reporting on their recommendations to City Council which include increasing the direct care staffing level from 3.5 to 4 hours of care per resident per day, implement and fully evaluate an emotion-centred approach to care pilot at Lakeshore Lodge and request the Provincial government to invest additional funding in the City’s long-term care homes.
With the demographic of our city changing, we must begin taking these major steps required to ensure the quality of life and care in our City’s Long-Term Care Homes is both innovative and thoughtful.
For more information, you may read the following Star article.
I want to express my sincere gratitude to every resident from the Yonge & Eglinton community who attended an important town hall meeting to discuss our priorities and how to resolve issues related to traffic safety, development, and construction. We covered the Ford government’s industry-friendly changes to the development approval process (Bill 108) and the Province’s adverse changes to our local Midtown in Focus Plan that would have ensured that services, parks, and infrastructure kept better pace with population growth. We also covered the recent creation of an office to lead a more coordinated approach to addressing road safety concerns in our Yonge and Eglinton area due to the many simultaneous projects, including Metrolinx’s Crosstown LRT and the large trucks and lanes closures that turn our neighbourhood into a work zone. We are demanding changes to the system as a whole (most of which is directed by the Province) and also looking at what tools exist within the City’s limited tool box to make a difference.
Since the meeting, I have heard that many of you appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the City’s current initiatives to improve traffic safety and construction coordination, as well as the impacts of Doug Ford’s changes to Provincial planning legislation. I also heard (and agree) that the presentations, while informative, were overly technical and did not leave enough time for everyone to ask their questions or make comments.
Your feedback is important to me, which is why I will be hosting a follow up Yonge & Eglinton Town Hall next year so that we can determine whether any progress has been made, and how we can best ensure we have a community with safe streets, parks, social services, and infrastructure. I will also be working with my colleagues and local community groups on thoughtful petitions with specific and targeted asks on how we can improve safety and have more legislative control on how our community, and city, is planned.
In light of the unprecedented amounts of development in the already densely populated area of Yonge-Eglinton and the recent tragic death of a pedestrian at Yonge and Erskine, Mayor Tory, Councillors Robinson, Colle and I requested the City to take concrete steps and create a comprehensive Traffic Safety Management Plan to address pedestrian safety concerns in the area. I am happy to let you know that our fight for more road safety has led to the creation of the Construction Hub Coordination Pilot project.
The Construction Hub Coordinator will be a “one stop shop” for all the stakeholders in the area, with the goal of reducing the impacts of construction on the community while improving road safety and keeping traffic moving. The Coordinator will conduct logistical planning of the right-of-way, review Construction Management Plans, connect travellers with real-time information, collaborate with enforcement officers and communicate impacts and changes to businesses and communities in the neighbourhood. This is the first time we have such a role in the City, so the work with this pilot may translate into other areas across the city getting similar projects in the future.
The pilot project officially starts on December 2nd, 2019. You can see some more information about the pilot at toronto.ca/constructionhub, with more and regular updates as of December 2nd.
I want to thank everyone who came out to my Community Development and Safety Round Table Meeting in the Oakwood-Vaughan community last week. It was a very well-attended, thoughtful and informative discussion on meaningfully addressing the roots of violence, proven enforcement measures, public realm improvements and working together to support the neighbourhood’s quality of life.
Please note that the survey has officially closed and for those that have shared their email addresses with me, I’ll be providing you with an update on next steps as well as survey results next week. If you were unable to attend this meeting or participate in my survey, please send me an email requesting to be added to my Oakwood-Vaughan Community Development and Safety list.
If you have any information regarding a criminal matter, please report it directly to the police. You can do so online at: www.torontopolice.on.ca/core or my telephone at 416-808-2222. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at: www.222tips.com
I’m proud to be supporting the Midtown Yonge BIA, in partnership with the City of Toronto, to announce the return of the Iron Horse to the Kay Gardner Beltline Park Bridge as a permanent public art installation! Join me in the official unveiling of the new Iron Horse 2019 sculpture this Saturday, November 30 from 10:00 am to noon. For info and event details, visit www.midtownyongebia.ca and follow @MidtownYongeBIA on Facebook. I look forward to seeing you there!
Guests will nosh on traditional Chanukah treats and other Jewish cuisine, shop for holiday gifts, and enjoy fun musical entertainment, including Rock the Shtetl and Oozakazoo. There will also be cooking demos from Amy Rosen, Carolyn Cohen, and Rooks to Cooks.
When: Sunday December 1st between 10:30am to 4:00pm
Where: Wychwood Barns
Humewood Park Playground Improvements
On December 2nd, please join me, Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff and your neighbours for a community meeting to discuss proposed improvements to the Humewood Park Playground. Come learn more about what’s proposed, provide your feedback, and discuss next steps. Together, let’s make our neighbourhood fun, safe and vibrant!
The meeting will be on Monday, December 2 from 6:30-8:30pm, at St. Alphonsus School (60 Atlas Avenue).
Last e-newsletter I shared a save-the-date for the St. Mike’s Public development public consultation. City Planning staff have now confirmed that the developer (Kingsett) has formally resubmitted their application, so we can proceed with the public meeting with a new confirmed date and location. Print notices have been mailed out by our City Planning staff.
This is a transformational project in the community and it’s important that your feedback and vision guides me and our City Planning staff before any decisions are made on this development.
When: Wednesday, December 4th :
6:00pm – 6:30 pm – Open House
6:30pm – 7:30 pm – Presentations
7:30pm – 8:30 pm – Roundtable
Where: Forest Hill Jewish Community Centre (360 Spadina Rd, Toronto, ON M5P 2V4, Canada)
If you have any questions or comments in advance, please contact my office at email@example.com (416) 392 7906
Or the City’s Senior Planner on this file
It was a pleasure hosting students from Fairbank Public School at City Hall this month! We had a really wonderful conversation about our city, our local community and combating climate change around the world.
On Saturday December 7th between 4:00pm-6:00pm, at the Oakwood Fire Station (555 Oakwood Avenue) the Oakwood Village BIA will be hosting their Festival of Lights! Holiday songs will be sung, hot cocoa will be served and lights on the Christmas tree will be lit. Don’t forget to bring your song book and a non-perishable item for the Daily Bread Food Bank. I look forward to seeing you then! For more information, please review this flyer.
I’m thrilled to announce that the sequin-filled tunnel at Yonge and St.Clair is coming back for the second holiday season in a row! The Tunnel of Glam is an 80-foot covered pedestrian walkway lined with over 14 million reversible sequins. Interactive and colourful, the tunnel represents the largest ever single use of the material, and will offer delight to families through the holiday season. The installation was commissioned by our very own Yonge + St. Clair BIA and designed by Studio F Minus. You can check out the Tunnel of Glam starting December 1st through to January 6th from 7:00am to 11:00pm at 1501 Yonge St.
The Eglinton Way BIA is hosting three exciting holiday events this month. On Saturday the 30th at 11am stop by The Abott on Eglinton (508 Eglinton Ave W) for breakfast and a free photo with Santa! Santa will then be walking around the neighbourhood and local shops from 2pm to 3pm. Then, on December 5th, stop by the Eglinton Way for late-night shopping and sparkling! From 5pm to 8pm you’ll be able to sip some bubbly wine while shopping in select stores. Lastly, join the Eglinton Way BIA on December 14th from 11am to 2pm on Elmsthorpe Ave to decorate gingerbread cookies, hot chocolate, and sing-a-long with great carolers!
Stop by the Church of the Transfiguration (111 Manor Road East) on Friday, December 6th for their annual Carolling on the Hill! Music booklets and hot chocolate will be provided, just bring your singing voice and perhaps a flashlight so that you can read the lyrics!
Our very own Hillcrest Village BIA welcomes you to attend their Annual Holiday Tree and Welcome Winter Event on Saturday December 7th from 10:00am-2:00pm at the Green P parking lot beside Krave Coffee. There will be free hot cocoa, children’s activities, give-aways and much more. I hope to see you there!
Black Futures on Eglinton is a project focused on exploring the culture and cultural impact of Black residents along the Eglinton Avenue West and Little Jamaica neighbourhood. Led by CP Planning and community partner Black Urbanism TO, this project seeks to engage Black communities in the remembering and envisioning of Black culture in this area.
To do this, we aim to collaborate with the community to better understand the heart of culture in the Eglinton Avenue West and Little Jamaica neighbourhood.
If you have been to, lived in, or currently live in the Eglinton Avenue West neighbourhoods between Keele and Allen (includes Oakwood and Vaughan area), please fill out and share this survey. This study will look at what cultural strengths make up the neighbourhood, and identifies cultural resources that may help shape its future. This is very important considering the ongoing gentrification and displacement taking place.
Feel Good Lane
Feel Good Lane, just North of St. Clair West and East of Atlas, is an adventurous walk through colorful murals, imaginative stories and creative place making. It always provokes a warm smile, even on a cold night. Take a stroll this winter!
As Toronto’s Seniors Advocate, I’m pleased to announce that The City of Toronto in collaboration with the National Initiative for the Care of the Elderly (NICE) has revealed the latest Toronto For All campaign against ageism in the workplace.
The campaign challenges Torontonians to check the biases they may have against older workers staying in or entering the workplace, and to recognize the invaluable experience they bring. The concept for the campaign promotes a fictitious aging cream, a play on the beauty industry that promotes the benefits of being older and experienced in the workplace.
This anti-ageism campaign delivers on one of the recommendations (#21) outlined in the Toronto Seniors Strategy 2.0. For more information and resources to educate Torontonians about ageism in the workplace, I welcome you to check out the campaign website here
Unison Health and Community Services has opened a new location in Oakwood Vaughan, at 501 Oakwood Avenue. The clinic will be offering drop-in healthcare and counselling services for youth (aged 13 to 29 years) on Tuesdays from 1-8pm, Thursdays from 1-8pm and Saturday from 1:30 to 4:30pm. Health care services for all ages are also offered by appointment only. For more information and contact info, please click here.
Stop by Yonge and St. Clair to see Toronto-St. Paul’s newest piece of public art! The en-deering mural is located on the side of 1 St. Clair Avenue West and was painted by artist BirdO (aka Jerry Rugg).
Earlier this year, the AGO told you about an exciting new pricing structure for visits to the Gallery. The AGO has been offering free visits to everybody 25 and under, as well as a $35 annual pass for the entire population! I’m pleased to announce that the AGO has decided to make this a permanent offering. Thank you for supporting arts and culture in Toronto!
Remember to join me all year long at The Stop Farmer’s Market at Wychwood Barns. The market takes places every Saturday from 8:00am to 12:30pm at 601 Christie Street. Join me to see friends and neighbours and buy fresh produce and other food. See you there!
‘Tis the season for gift giving, holiday parties and spending time with family and friends. It’s also a time of year when people tend to produce more waste. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, the City of Toronto is asking residents to be mindful of the waste they generate during the holiday season.
Small changes to daily routines can make a big impact. Apply the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle right – and try to incorporate some of the following tips into your holidays. Also check the 2020 waste management calendar, coming soon to your mailbox.
• Carry a reusable bag when shopping for holiday gifts and say no to excess tissue and packaging.
• Consider low-waste gifts such as gift cards, tickets to an event, an experiential or service-based gift or give a charitable donation in a loved one’s name.
• Avoid single-use items such as cutlery, plates and cups when planning holiday parties.
• Save gift bags, gift wrap, ribbons and bows to reuse year after year.
• Host a holiday swap with parents to exchange kids’ clothes and toys that are no longer used.
• Get crafty when wrapping by using items you have around your house such as newspaper, old calendars and cards.
• Dispose of foil/metallic wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, bubble wrap, bubble envelopes, packing peanuts and fruit crates in the garbage.
• Recycle paper gift wrap and flattened cardboard, and rinse plastic plates and plastic cups before placing them in the Blue Bin (recycling).
• Never put recycling in black bags or throw black plastics in the Blue Bin (recycling).
• Use the Green Bin (organics) for fruit and vegetable scraps, meat including bones, spoiled cakes and cookies, and soiled paper plates and napkins (unless they have absorbed chemicals such as cleaning products).