The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many significant challenges for all of us. One of the most significant that parents, teachers and governments are dealing with right now is the re-opening of our schools. While this process is almost completely within the control of the provincial government and the school boards (Toronto District School Board and Toronto District Catholic School Board) the City is doing all that it can to assist with the safe return to school of our children. Our most important and primary objective is to ensure that the children, teachers, support staff and families are kept safe.
Following the provincial announcement from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health notifying public health departments across Ontario that they could now begin recruitment to provide nursing support to schools, Toronto Public Health began establishing a team of more than 70 nurses to provide strong support to schools as they reopen. These nurses will be visible in schools and provide education and training sessions to school staff, parents and caregivers to promote infection prevention and control measures, and other public health advice to limit opportunities for virus spread.
To support the school boards, City Manager Chris Murray has written to the TDSB and TDCSB letting them know that we have identified community centres, libraries, museums and other cultural centres that can be made available to them to help keep children safe and provide more room for instruction and activities. Twenty four facilities and 36 rooms have been offered to the boards. These facilities already meet the requirements set out by both school boards and their use will not impact the much needed existing City programs.
In addition, the Toronto Public Library has also identified 9 spaces within 7 library locations which have been offered entirely for exclusive use by the boards.
Some families have also suggested that City parks may also offer a safe alternative for schooling. The City has also indicated that parks are available for outdoor instruction, play and physical activities without the need for a City permit, and staff are prepared to work with the boards to identify which parks would be most helpful for their purposes.
Of course, many parents also rely on before and after care, especially if they are returning to work in this recovery period. The City operates high-quality, safe after-school recreation care for children ages 6-12 years old. The After-School Recreation Care (ARC) program offers participants activities including sports, outdoor play, special events, creative activities, and homework help. You can learn more about this program here. Registration will start at 7 a.m. on August 24.
Please know that although the school boards and the province are responsible for the safe return to school for our children, the City is and will continue to do everything it possibly can to assist in this effort.
Our office continues to work to serve you remotely. If we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at 416.392.7012.
Questions from the Community!
Each day, we are working to answer important questions from our community. To keep you all informed, we will feature some of these questions each newsletter. Have a question you think would be good to share? Reach out to us at [email protected].
With so many things allowed to re-open, why are major amusement parks not allowed to open?
This is a provincial government decision based on the advice of their Medical Officer of Health. Provincial officials have indicated in public statements that they have been advised that theme parks and waterparks still pose a threat to public health safety during this pandemic period. The concerns included how to control the movement of people within theme parks and also the risk posed by people traveling from around the province and beyond to visit theme parks if they were re-opened at this time. The provincial government link below contains further information.
Is there a set date for the Canada-U.S. border to re-open for non-essential travel?
The Canada-U.S. border does in fact remain closed. While the closure times have had end dates, prior to each end date from the beginning of the pandemic this date has been extended. Six days ago a further extension was announced bringing the current closure order to September 21st, 2020. However, it is likely in view of the pandemic situation in the U.S. that this will be extended again into the foreseeable future with the exception of essential border crossings (essential truck traffic, etc.). The federal government maintains a web page (below) that provides further information on this border closure and it is regularly updated.
Supporting Live Music Venues
As a member of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, I am glad that our successful recommendation to City Council led to 45 live music venues receiving a combined $1.7 million in property tax relief. This relief will support Toronto's live music industry and address the unprecedented challenges that are threatening live music venues across the city. These efforts will directly support many of our favourite Ward 9 venues, including Burdock, Lula Lounge and The Painted Lady.
Alphonse Production in Dufferin Grove Park
Theaturtle in partnership with Shakespeare in Action has announced their tour of Toronto city parks with ALPHONSE by Wajdi Mouawad. This production will be presented in Dufferin Grove Park from August 27th-30th, 2020. Pay what you can tickets are available through the link above.
CNE At Home!
Although the iconic lights of the midway won’t shine at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) this year, Toronto’s end of summer tradition continues in a new way – as the fair comes to life online from August 21 to September 7, 2020. The new CNE At Home online portal, which can be accessed through TheEx.com will share some of its most popular shows, favourite food recipes, tricks of the trade from buskers, historical retrospectives, new music performances and much more.
Bike Share – Free Ride Wednesdays in September
Thanks to the new Bike Share Toronto – CAA South Central Ontario partnership, Bike Share Toronto riders will ride for free every Wednesday in the month of September. Riders can take out a bike for up to 30 minutes, return the bike to any station, and take out another bike for an additional free 30-minute ride.
Bristol Avenue Parkette West Improvements
The City is improving Bristol Avenue Parkette West to increase accessibility, to ensure the playground is in good condition for users and to better serve the community! Make sure you share your input through our survey by August 23.
Earlscourt Park Splashpad Survey
We are going to make a big splash at Earlscourt Park! We want your input on the design of the new splash pad. Fill out the survey linked above before September 6 to make sure your ideas are considered.
Twilight Sculpture Garden Project at Lisgar Park
Artists Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky are creating a DIY temporary public artwork, housed in an improvised pop-up structure and containing delicate, taped-together monuments to everyday things. The project is a giant lantern made to look like an antique store, in homage to the many small businesses that have lined Queen Street West, including those which now only exist in memory. The artists have created an ever-growing archive online of many of the files used to assemble these lanterns, made available for anyone to print out and make for themselves, at their web-based project http://www.craftsabyss.com.
The artist has begun the installation and it will be officially be open from September 5 until October 27.
466-468 Dovercourt Road Planning Application
On Wednesday, September 2 from 6-7:30pm, the City will be hosting a virtual community consultation meeting to discuss the proposed Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment to allow a new 6-storey mixed-use building. This application will have commercial/retail uses on the ground floor, mezzanine and basement levels and 30 dwelling units on the upper floors.
The property is currently occupied by a vacant 2-storey mixed-use building (formerly The Matador Ballroom).
City of Toronto further expands Digital Main Street program to help local businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic
Mayor John Tory announced another expansion of the Digital Main Street program, as two new funding partners have joined the program and additional initiatives have been launched that will focus on helping businesses in Toronto and across Ontario embrace technology in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
City of Toronto update on COVID-19 (August 19)
There are 15,668 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 24 since yesterday. There are 49 people hospitalized. In total, 14,230 people have recovered from COVID-19, an increase of 30 since yesterday. To date, there have been 1,164 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto – with no deaths since yesterday. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform.
Ontario Moving Forward with Eglinton Crosstown West Extension
The Ontario government is one step closer to getting shovels in the ground on part of the largest subway expansion in Canadian history with the planned release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to advance tunnelling work on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension.
Government of Canada supports a safer drug supply project in Toronto
Member of Parliament Arif Virani, announced more than $582,000 in funding over 10 months for an emergency safer supply project to help people at risk of overdose during the COVID-19 outbreak in Toronto, Ontario.