I would like to begin by wishing those who are celebrating, Happy Hanukkah. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable celebration with your families with whom you live with during this challenging time and we all hope that next year we will be more back to normal.
Last week, a young woman cycling on Dufferin Street tragically passed away following an accident. While we have many traffic improvements scheduled for implementation, we are committed to expediting all safety improvements as quickly as possible. I have been working on a plan to expedite the implementation of changes on Dufferin Street to make it safer particularly for cyclists and pedestrians. To this end, I have submitted a motion for consideration at City Council next week. It not only looks to expedite changes already scheduled such as new traffic lights, but also additional measures including red light and automated speed enforcement cameras. You can see my statement and full motion here.
As our City continues to meet the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital that we ensure that those using our public transit system are kept safe while they commute. It is not only important to address congestion issues, but also matters of equity and the environment. While TTC ridership has declined with the pandemic, many routes remain busy, including Dufferin Street. Many people who take these routes daily are the essential workers we rely upon. To ensure the safety of these commuters, the TTC has increased bus service, which will reduce any over-crowding and keep people safe – this includes on the Dufferin Street bus route. The TTC will continue to monitor ridership levels to ensure everyone is receiving safe, reliable, and convenient service.
With the winter weather approaching, the members of Planning and Housing Committee joined with me to direct staff to report to the next Council meeting with a review of any programs, funding, and tools available to all levels of government, to provide immediate housing to those in need. Throughout the pandemic, the City has taken extraordinary actions to support people experiencing homelessness - we have created 2,300 spaces through hotel programs and temporary shelter spaces. We have also referred more than 2,500 people to permanent housing, and Streets to Homes teams and partner agencies have helped over 1,100 people secure a safe place indoors. With winter approaching, the City has added 620 additional spaces. Even still, there is a need for additional support, and it is important to explore all options available to us.
At this week's Planning and Housing Committee meeting which I chair, we also advanced work on implementing garden suites in the City. Similar to laneway suites, garden suites open doors and add diversity to housing options in our neighbourhoods. They make otherwise inaccessible neighbourhoods an option for many and allow families to stay close. By creating these options, we allow homeowners to help house others and support themselves.
This week we have also seen promising news with Health Canada's approval of the Pfizer vaccine. In November, the City established its COVID-19 Immunization Task Force to prepare for the vaccine's arrival and to ensure that the City is ready to play its role in helping Torontonians get vaccinated.
On October 15, we put a call out to the community to create a natural ice rink in Dovercourt Park and we were overwhelmed with individuals looking to help out. It is a simple but important initiative to help families get outdoors safely this coming season. The community is looking for donations of skates for kids that do not have them. If you have a pair that is clean and in good condition, please reach out to [email protected] to donate them. We are also working on natural ice rinks in S.A.D.R.A and Chandos Park. Thank you to all the dedicated community members working to make this happen!
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.
Table of Contents
- Question from the Community!
- Advancing Vacant Homes Tax
- College Dundas Construction Update
- Learn the History of Brockton Triangle
- Corso Italia Food Drive
- Regal Heights Sing Along
- Proposed Renaming of Salem-Westmoreland Parkette
- Alternative Crisis Response Model - Share your Views
- Metrloinx Caisson Drilling - CP Diamond
- Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club - Holly Toy Drive
- West End Phoenix's 2021 Joe Burke Journalism Fund for Social Justice Reporting
- Recent Announcements
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 the holidays coming, is there any place where we can get information on what directives and regulations are in place in terms of the pandemic?
Yes, the City of Toronto has created a "Holiday Guide" that includes a great deal of information ranging from what restrictions are in place to holiday guidance on gatherings to managing stress, etc. A link to the guide is found below.
Advancing Vacant Homes Tax
I have been working on having the City adopt a Vacant Homes Tax that would be applied to residential units that remain empty and unavailable for people to live in at a time when our City is facing significant housing challenges. Residential properties are about homes where people can live, not investments that sit empty for years waiting to be flipped for profit. At Executive Committee I was pleased to finally see a review of the potential design and implementation of a vacant home tax in Toronto. As noted, I have long supported implementing a vacant homes tax but we have an even greater urgency brought on by the pandemic. Our goal is not to collect tax revenue, but to bring these homes back into the housing stock so people can actually live within them. The item now moves to City Council.
College Dundas Construction Update
Over the last few weeks, I have been working with many of you to address traffic challenges and safety concerns in our community created by constructions closures. I am pleased to let you know that the TTC work at the College Street and Dundas Street West intersection has reached substantial completion. We hope that with these lanes opening up again, the situation will be significantly improved. If you still have concerns please let me know.
While this construction brought challenges, there are also important benefits. We have made the intersection safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers by adding a traffic light, extending crosswalk curbs for safer crossings, and created a bike box to protect cyclists waiting to turn left with the signalized left turn. This work was done in conjunction with the TTC work to avoid additional closures.
As there is still minor work ongoing at Dundas Street West and College Street, you may see some individual lane closures in the coming days, but there are no further full lane closures expected.
Streetcar service has resumed on Dundas, with buses running on College Street until January.
Speaking on College and Dundas Intersection improvements in 2019.
Learn the History of Brockton Triangle
Want to learn more about the history of Brockton Triangle? BlogTO has created a comprehensive article highlighting the neighbourhood's past.
Corso Italia Food Drive
Looking to give back this holiday season? The Corso Italia Business Improvement Area Association is working with Oasis Dufferin and The Stop to provide fresh, wholesome and nutritious food to families in need. Pick up food from a local business and make a donation!
Regal Heights Sing Along
While the community cannot get together physically for their traditional Regal Heights Carol Sing, the Regal Heights Residents’ Association will be moving their celebrations online. You can participate by singing a seasonal carol, reading a poem or story, or simply wishing your neighbours a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays!
Proposed Renaming of Salem-Westmoreland Parkette
Residents have contacted my office requesting to rename Salem-Westmoreland Parkette after Bruce Cox, who recently passed away. Bruce was a much loved and well-respected community member, organizer, and was a director at Greenpeace for over 10 years. He was beloved by the west-end community, which is deeply saddened by his passing. He lived on Westmoreland Avenue and spent many hours in the parkette there, along with his dog Scruffy. To honour Bruce's memory and community work, we have created this petition to collect community support for changing the name of Salem Parkette. If you wish to sign the petition, please do so via the link above by December 23.
Alternative Crisis Response Model – Share your Views
The City has committed to creating a community-based crisis response model, based on community input. The second survey is now live. There, you can also access the public portal to track the City's progress on all the recommendations it has put forward.
Metrolinx Caisson Drilling – CP Diamond
Until December 18, Metrolinx will be conducting some night work to prepare pillars to support the Davenport Diamond Bridge. The work zone is around the CP track intersection, north of Dupont Street. The Metrolinx team can be contacted at [email protected].
Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club – Holly Toy Drive
The Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club’s annual Holly’s Toy Drive will be happening again this year. You can drop off toys at the front entrance of the Club at 180 Westmoreland Avenue until December 18.
West End Phoenix’s 2021 Joe Burke Journalism Fund for Social Justice Reporting
West End Phoenix is welcoming proposals for a series of pieces, rooted in the West End of Toronto, with a social issue at their core. The series – to be unfurled in related reported or visual pieces – will be published in the West End Phoenix, in print and online.
This project is being supported by a $10,000 endowment created by Donald Bayne, Mark Ertel and Hal Mattson. These funds will go to the recipient to research and produce reported pieces, in collaboration with the West End Phoenix editorial team. Submissions opened Monday November 16 and close Friday December 18.
Short-term rentals operators in Toronto must register by December 31 to continue hosting
Short-term rental operators renting homes or rooms for periods of less than 28 consecutive days must be registered with the City of Toronto by December 31, 2020, to continue short-term renting in the City.
Beginning January 1, 2021, registered operators must also start collecting the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT). After January 1, 2021, the City can take enforcement action against operators who are not registered or are not following the rules. Enforcement action will also be taken against short-term rental companies that allow unregistered operators to list on their platforms or contravene the bylaw.
Toronto Fire Services and First Alert partner to protect Toronto from carbon monoxide this winter
Toronto Fire Services has partnered with First Alert, to help ensure Toronto residents in vulnerable communities have the required smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms needed to stay safe.
Knowing that more Torontonians will be spending time indoors this winter, First Alert has generously donated 300 CO alarms to Community Centre 55, an organization that helps serve and support vulnerable communities. The CO alarms will be distributed, as part of Community Centre 55’s Christmas Hamper program, to families who are most in need.
City of Toronto update on COVID-19 (Dec 9)
There are 46,619 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 553 new cases today. There are 220 people hospitalized. To date, there have been 1,684 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. In total, 39,584 people have recovered from COVID-19. Case status data can be found on the City’s reporting platform.
City of Toronto continues working with community-based agencies to provide mental health support to vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic
The City of Toronto wants all residents to know that it is OK to not be OK and ask for mental health support when needed.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto has partnered with community-based agencies that provide mental health and social services to support residents during this difficult time. The City has also remained committed to providing Torontonians with safe opportunities for recreation and prioritized access to the City’s parks and green spaces for fresh air and exercise.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, continued measures to slow the spread of the virus and protect the city’s most vulnerable residents have created stress and anxiety for many individuals. These mental health pressures are particularly severe for individuals who are faced with challenging circumstances such as social isolation, job loss and illness.
Toronto Public Health enhances school screening tool
Toronto Public Health (TPH) updated their COVID-19 school screening tool to further prevent opportunities for virus spread. The updated screening tool includes a new requirement that if a student has even one COVID-19 symptom, they must stay home, self-isolate and get tested; and if they live with siblings in the same household, they must all self-isolate. The changes made to the tool were based on our findings from COVID-19 case and outbreak investigations in schools in Toronto.
Ontario Expands Funding for Supportive Housing
The Ontario Government is investing over $47 million to provide supportive housing for individuals with severe mental health and addictions challenges who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The funding will also support the creation of a new Back to Home program to help patients transition from hospitals to permanent housing.
Ontario Protecting Workers and Employers during COVID-19
The Ontario Government introduced the Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act, 2020 that would, if passed, protect employers from an unexpected increase in Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums, while maintaining an increase to the maximum earnings cap for worker benefits.
Ontario Identifies Key Groups for Distribution of Initial COVID-19 Vaccines
The Ontario Government is ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are received, beginning with vaccinating vulnerable populations and those who care for them. As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has identified key populations to receive the vaccine first, including long-term care and retirement home residents and the staff who provide care to these groups. The government's approach is informed by science and prioritizes population groups that are at greatest risks of COVID-19.
COVID-19 Advisory Groups and Task Forces Fact Sheet
The Government of Canada has established a number of advisory groups and task forces composed of stakeholders from the public sector, private sector and/or academia and the research community, to provide recommendations or actions to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.
Health Canada authorizes first COVID-19 vaccine
On December 9, 2020, Health Canada authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine, and others, will be distributed beginning as early as this month and through the winter and coming spring months.