Today, we have seen an encouraging positive change concerning COVID-19 case numbers in Ontario. Based on the number of tests administered and the corresponding results, there has been an improvement in the situation. For the first time in months, the effective COVID-19 reproductive number is below one. However, this is just one positive step, and it is still imperative that we continue practicing the measures that are contributing to these changes. Remember, a stay at home order remains in place, so we should all do our part and leave home only for essential and exercise purposes.
Of course, just asking people to stay home is not enough. That is why we continue to advocate for more testing, paid sick leave, supports for individuals and businesses, and ensuring that essential workplaces remain safe.
Since we rolled out our enhanced plan to provide targeted support to neighbourhoods experiencing higher COVID-19 case rates at the City, City staff and partners have engaged tens of thousands of people. The enhanced plan focuses on expanding testing sites, intensifying education and engagement and advocating for those who test positive for COVID-19 and cannot work due to mandatory isolation.
The City has also been working to improve access to testing in these neighbourhoods. Testing opportunities have been brought closer to where people live through 271 testing clinics expected in more than 20 different city-owned facilities. In addition, community pop-up testing supported by Toronto Paramedic Services and the City's health care partners continues in these neighbourhoods.
Toronto Community Housing has also been working closely with the City to identify and support mobile testing sites and ensure there are culturally-appropriate environments to support racialized and newcomer communities, including support from partner agencies, telephone interpretation services, and multi-language supports and door-to-door COVID-19 testing. In 2020, TCHC did more than 19,000 wellness checks of vulnerable tenants and seniors by telephone and door-knocking and began the second round of wellness checks this month.
If we are truly in this together, we all have to do our part, and so does each order of government.
In other non-COVID related news and as Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee, I was pleased with our meeting this week to advance a "missing middle" pilot project in the Beaches-East York area. As we work to improve Toronto's affordability for everyone in our City, we need to consider all of the options available to us to realize this goal. We cannot be a city of just condos and multi-million-dollar homes. We need to explore providing homeowners with the flexibility to create alternative housing options that better serve their needs and the needs of others looking to live in our neighbourhoods, including duplexes and triplexes. This pilot project will help us assess the feasibility of this planning and housing tool on City-owned sites, and I look forward to reviewing the findings to help shape a solution that works across the City. I also presented a motion asking staff to initiate a Secondary plan west of the Downtown Core, including many neighbourhoods in our Ward, to plan for complete communities as we grow our City.
Next week, the City's Executive Committee, of which I am a member, will meet to discuss many important items, including the Community Crisis Support Service Pilot plan, SmartTrack Stations and this year's CafeTO and CurbTO roll-out. Specific to the crisis response item, while I am pleased to see progress being made, I feel a need to work to expedite its implementation. Last year's events highlighted the importance of a comprehensive and timely implementation of an alternative crisis response model that focuses on helping people in crisis with more appropriate support. I look forward to having a robust and meaningful discussion on this item at the meeting next week to ensure it is implemented rapidly and address the concerns raised by Torontonians.
Last year, the City's CaféTO program, which permitted sidewalk and curb lane cafés, was a lifeline to restaurants and allowed residents a safe way to enjoy a meal outdoors while supporting their favourite restaurants. Given the program's success, we are looking at implementing it once again in 2021, with further enhancements, including additional permissions for decks, platforms and fencing and ongoing financial support through grants. I look forward to seeing this program implemented once more this spring.
I want to call on artists in our community to participate in the Rooster Project Call for Artists. This is a partnership between my office, Little Portugal on Dundas BIA; The Consulate General of Portugal and StreetArt. The rooster was donated to the City of Toronto by the municipality of Barcelos and will be located on Dundas and Lakeview. Participate!
Table of Contents
- Question from the Community!
- Toronto's Budget: Get Involved!
- Eglinton Keelesdale COVID-19 Pop-Up Testing Site
- Addressing Housing Affordability Event
- Rapid Housing Initiative
- Community Meeting on Proposed Development at 1423-1437 Bloor Street West and 278 Sterling Road
- SADRA Park Natural Ice Rink
- Message of Encouragement
- Statistics Canada Hiring for 2021 Census
- Learn about the City's Snow Maintenance Programs
- Carleton Village Community Town Hall
- Black Futures On Eglinton
- Beautifying Laneways in Carleton Village
- Connections – Helping Immigrants Find Work
- Metrolinx Caisson Drilling
- Zero Waste High-Rise Project announces NEW tools, resources and a micro-grant opportunity
- 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].
Is it true that hydro or electricity rates are being held in place because of the pandemic?
Electricity rates in Ontario are set and/or approved by the provincial government or its agencies. The answer to your question is yes, as of January 1st, 2021 the Ontario government will be temporarily holding the price of electricity at 8.5¢/kWh for all customers on the Time of Use or Tiered rates system. More details are available here.
Toronto’s Budget: Get Involved!
Each year, City staff put forward a preliminary budget and then the Mayor and City Council − with input from Toronto residents and businesses − make decisions about the City’s services, programs and infrastructure work before approval of the final budget at the end of the process.
Our City's budget is a crucial part of realizing our goals as a great City and I encourage you to provide your comments and recommendations as we work on the 2021 budget as this process takes place during a time when there are unique and substantial pressures facing our City.
Eglinton Keelesdale COVID-19 Pop-Up Testing Site
A COVID-19 Pop-Up Testing Site will be operating Friday, January 22 and 29, February 5, 12, 19 and 26 at York Recreation Centre, 115 Black Creek Drive from 3 PM to 7 PM.
If you have any symptoms, or think you may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, come get tested. Bring your OHIP card if you have one, but it is not required. Bring a piece of ID or something with your name on it (bill, passport, etc.). There is no cost.
Call 416-653-5400 extension 3121 to book an appointment.
Addressing Housing Affordability Event
Housing affordability is a key challenge we are working to address. On Sunday, Jan 31, I'll take a deep dive into housing challenges with Joe Mihevic – York University Visiting Professor, Alex Borzikovic – Globe and Mail Architecture Critic, Cheryll Case – founding principal of CP Planning. This event is being planned by Darchei Noam Synagogue.
Rapid Housing Initiative
COVID has highlighted that access to a safe, secure and affordable home is essential to health and well-being. We have announced the approval of Toronto's Investment Plan to receive more than $203m through the federal Rapid Housing Initiative.
This will allow us to create 540 new, permanent affordable homes, prioritized for people experiencing homelessness. We have also committed to allocate 20% to Indigenous people and 20% to women and girls. Many will also support seniors, youth and racialized communities.
These homes will be delivered rapidly and will be ready for occupancy this year. This would not have been possible without the substantial commitment we have seen from the Federal government, and through strong partnerships between our governments. Click to watch my comments on the Rapid Housing Initiative
Community Meeting on Proposed Development at 1423-1437 Bloor Street West and 278 Sterling Road
On January 27, there will be a community meeting on the proposed development at 1423-1437 Bloor Street West and 278 Sterling Road. The meeting will be hosted by the developer, from 7 PM - 8:30 PM. You can register for the meeting here.
SADRA Park Natural Ice Rink
Great things happen when community members work together. Check out the amazing natural ice rink created in SADRA Park by local volunteers! I am glad our team was able to assist in making this a reality.
Message of Encouragement
A local resident is working on an arts project, collecting messages of encouragement and passing them forward to spread hope and cheer, including sending them to people in long-term care homes and to health care professionals. You can leave an anonymous message through the link above.
Statistics Canada Hiring for 2021 Census
Canada's next Census of our Population will take place in spring 2021. Statistics Canada will be hiring across the country in every community, big and small, in preparation for the 2021 Census. In the current context of COVID-19, they are committed to hiring locally and ensuring the safety of employees and community members at all times.
Apply online at www.census.gc.ca/jobs
Learn about the City’s Snow Maintenance Programs
Have questions about City snow services? Use the link above to access the City plow map, learn about snow removal, salt management and more.
Carleton Village Community Town Hall
Yesterday evening, I met with residents of Carleton Village, Toronto Police Service 11 Division, and the Laneway Project Executive Director, to discuss ways to keep Carleton Village safe and vibrant. With over 70 individuals registered, we had a productive discussion on community safety and I look forward to continue working with the community on further safety measures.
Black Futures On Eglinton
Between September 2019 and August 2020, CP Planning and Black Urbanism TO partnered to design and deliver the Black Futures on Eglinton cultural mapping study. This study implemented creative approaches to identifying, celebrating, and supporting the cultural strength within the Eglinton Avenue West area, lovingly known as 'Little Jamaica' to many. As part of this study, locals and community allies of a wide variety of ages, ethnicities, and lived experienced engaged in solidarity to exchange thoughts that together make up their vision for Black Futures on Eglinton.
Laneway Park-ing is a project to improve a local laneway in Carleton Village, running from Connolly to Davenport between Osler and Gillespie. It will transform the laneway into a people-friendly space for everyone to use and enjoy - on foot, on bikes and in cars - by adding gardens, public art and lighting to the laneway edges of neighbouring properties, at the request of property owners and in collaboration with community members.
If you live beside the laneway on Osler or Gillespie and would like to request a new mural, garden or light on the laneway edge of your property, let them know! Send an email to [email protected] by February 15 to have your laneway improvement included in the project.
For more project information anytime, visit www.thelanewayproject.ca/carletonvillagepark-ing.
Wallace Emerson Community Town Hall
On January 28th, 2021 at 6:30 PM, I will be hosting a meeting for Wallace Emerson residents on keeping our community vibrant, safe, and inclusive. To be part of the conversation, please register using the link above.
Connections – Helping Immigrants Find Work
Connections is an online skills training program for newcomers to prepare them to get into the work force. They offer an 18 week online training program, which you can register for by emailing [email protected] or calling 416.925.2103 ex.4280.
Metrolinx Caisson Drilling
Metrolinx will be completing caisson drilling over the next five months, beginning on February 1. This involves boring (or drilling) a hole into the ground down to more supportive bedrock, lifting in steel reinforcement (or rebar cage), and then pouring concrete. This creates reinforced concrete columns underground that will form structural piers to support the load of the elevated guideway structure above.
The work is scheduled to take place during the day and overnight from February to July 2021. While most of this work is carried out during the day, crews will also be working overnight as the equipment will be available and they will be able to work more safely and efficiently.
Zero Waste High-Rise Project announces NEW tools, resources and a micro-grant opportunity
The Toronto Environmental Alliance’s (TEA) Zero Waste High-Rise Project aims to inspire, support and celebrate multi-residential buildings to become zero waste leaders.
Join a community of residents and staff from buildings across Toronto and participate in an online program with virtual learning sessions, guides and tools to walk you through creating a zero waste action plan for your building. Participants will also be contributing to valuable research by TEA and the University of Toronto to help more buildings reduce waste.
- A limited number of micro-grants up to $500 will be available to support Toronto buildings
- TEA will recognize and celebrate all buildings that have taken action by February 28th
- Building teams can sign up for coaching sessions with TEA staff, and attend virtual tours of leading buildings
The Project is funded by a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in partnership with University of Toronto
City of Toronto continues to provide support and services to targeted neighbourhoods with high COVID-19 cases
Since the start of the pandemic there have been a total of 79,767 cases of COVID-19 in the city, an increase of 986 new cases today. Today's case numbers reflect 102 cases that were unavailable due to a provincial laboratory information system technical issue that happened earlier in the week and is now resolved. There are 474 people hospitalized. In total, 69,227 people have recovered from COVID-19. To date, there have been 2,255 COVID-19 deaths in Toronto. Case status data can be found on the City's reporting platform.
ConnectTO program aims to increase digital equity and access to affordable high-speed internet in Toronto
The City of Toronto is introducing ConnectTO – a City-driven collaborative program that aims to leverage the use of municipal resources and assets to help bridge the increasing digital divide by expanding access to affordable, high-speed internet to underserved Toronto residents.
City of Toronto report on policing recommends pilots for community safety and crisis response program
A City of Toronto report to be considered by the Executive Committee at its meeting on Wednesday, January 27th recommends the approval of four community safety and crisis support service pilots. These pilot programs would allow for non-police led response for non-emergency, non-violent calls including those involving persons in crisis and for wellness checks.
The pilots respond to City Council's direction to staff in June 2020 for changes to policing in Toronto and for the City Manager to develop a non-police led, alternative community safety response model for calls involving Toronto residents in crisis.
City of Toronto report outlines plan for bigger and better CaféTO program in 2021 to help local restaurants
Mayor John Tory endorsed a new City of Toronto report that recommends an expanded CaféTO program starting this spring to help Toronto's main street restaurants and bars during the ongoing pandemic.
City of Toronto and partners start COVID-19 vaccination pilots for people experiencing homelessness and frontline workers in select shelters
The City of Toronto is pleased to partner with Unity Health Toronto, University Health Network and Inner City Health Associates on COVID-19 vaccination pilot clinics for people experiencing homelessness and frontline shelter workers in select shelters.
City of Toronto and partners completing resident vaccinations at all 87 long-term care homes in Toronto
On January 15, the City of Toronto confirmed that COVID-19 immunization clinics have been held at all 87 long-term care homes in Toronto. The vaccination milestone comes well in advance of the Province of Ontario's January 21, 2021 deadline to complete the first round of vaccinations in long-term care homes.
More than 10,322 residents and 2,893 staff and essential caregivers have now been vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine on-site in Toronto long-term care homes. In addition, staff and essential caregivers have attended hospital clinics to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Ontario Adding More Mental Health Beds and Programs for Seniors
The Ontario government is providing over $12 million to add new mental health beds in hospitals and to expand programs that support the mental health and well-being of seniors across the province. This funding is part of the government's comprehensive mental health and addictions plan Roadmap to Wellness. This plan is delivering high-quality care and building a modern, connected and comprehensive system to support those dealing with mental health and addictions issues.
Ontario Adding Over 500 Hospital Beds to Expand Critical Care Capacity
The Ontario government is providing up to $125 million to immediately add over 500 critical care and high intensity medicine beds to hospitals in areas with high rates of COVID-19 transmission. A portion of the funding will also be used to temporarily transition Mackenzie Health's Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital into a systemwide resource supporting the province's COVID-19 response when the new hospital is scheduled to open on February 7, 2021. These initiatives will help relieve pressures on nearby hospitals due to rapid increases in hospitalization and ICU occupancy rates.
Ontario Opens COVID-19 Isolation Centres in Hardest Hit Communities
The Ontario government is announcing today that COVID-19 isolation centres are opening this week in Oshawa and Brampton and two isolation centres serving the City of Toronto are expanding. These new centres and expansions are in addition to existing centres in the City of Ottawa, and the regions of Peel and Waterloo.
Prime Minister releases supplementary mandate letters for ministers
The global COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious public health crisis Canada has ever faced. It has had devastating impacts on the lives and livelihoods of Canadians, and has exposed fundamental gaps in our society. The Government of Canada will keep doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to have people's backs during this difficult time. We will continue to support families and protect Canadians' health and jobs as we work to build a stronger, more resilient country.
Canada and Ontario invest in community recreation infrastructure in Toronto
The safety and well-being of Canadians are top priorities for the governments of Canada and Ontario. Investments in Ontario's infrastructure during this extraordinary time provide an opportunity to create jobs, economic growth, and make our communities more sustainable and resilient.