NOW Magazine’s People’s Choice Best City Councillor

Posted on October 31, 2019

I am very honoured to have been voted Best City Councillor by the people of Toronto for NOW Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards 2019!

It has been my pleasure to be able to represent Parkdale-High Park for the last 13 years and improve our city more each year. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with this wonderful community for even longer!

Gord

Council Highlights – October 29-30th, 2019

Posted on October 31, 2019

Council Highlights

Toronto City Council meeting of October 29 and 30, 2019                           

Council Highlights is an informal summary of selected actions taken by Toronto City Council at its business meetings. The complete, formal documentation for this latest meeting is available at http://www.toronto.ca/council.

Transit/transportation

Public transit projects   

After extensive discussion, Council voted in favour of the City negotiating agreements with the Ontario government on four public transit projects for Toronto. City and TTC staff will work with their provincial counterparts to advance plans for the Ontario Line, the Line 2 East Extension, the Yonge Subway Extension and the Eglinton West LRT. Council supported numerous motions and recommendations as part of this agenda item. Under the City/Ontario partnership, the City retains ownership of Toronto’s existing subway network and the TTC retains its responsibilities for transit network operations.

Planning for automated vehicles     

Council approved a plan designed to prepare Toronto for the anticipated use of automated (driverless) vehicles in the near future. A trial project in Scarborough involving an automated shuttle service connecting the West Rouge neighbourhood with nearby Rouge Hill GO Transit station is scheduled to start in late 2020. Toronto’s comprehensive plan for automated vehicles is said to be the first of its kind by a North American city.

Road safety measures   

Recommendations involving speed limits and other measures to enhance pedestrian safety were approved by Council. Steps to be taken include asking the Ontario Ministry of Transportation to consult with the City before considering increasing the speed limits on the portions of the 400 series highways that are in Toronto. A separate motion that was supported will result in a pilot project using new technology available to assist pedestrians in safely crossing streets at busy intersections.

City assets/facilities

Managing the City’s real estate assets     

Council adopted a report called ModernTO that sets out a strategy for the City’s real estate portfolio. The strategy aims to optimize City real estate assets in ways that modernize municipal office space and create efficiencies. A related agenda item that Council adopted calls on CreateTO, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, the Toronto Parking Authority and the Toronto Transit Commission, to adopt similar policies for their office portfolios.

Investment in parks and recreation facilities  

Council endorsed a strategy for providing parks and recreation facilities across the city over the next 20 years. The strategy, which is based on a commitment to high-quality parks and recreation facilities serving all Toronto residents, provides details for implementing an earlier adopted Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan. Implementing the plan entails investing in community recreation centres, aquatic and ice facilities, sports fields and courts, splash pads and other facilities.

Use of community spaces in City facilities    

Council supported a motion calling on City officials to consult with LGBTQ2S+ stakeholders and to review the City’s policies governing third party use of community spaces in City facilities. Staff are to report to Council early in the new year. A focus involves ensuring that the identification of groups contravening the City’s human rights and anti-harassment/discrimination policy, and the denial or revoking of permits to such groups, are done in a timely manner. Part of the motion addresses the Toronto Public Library Board and its policies on the use of community spaces.

Cyber security  

Council adopted recommendations intended to strengthen security controls in information technology at the City and at City of Toronto agencies and corporations. The related audit report notes that cyberattacks – unauthorized attempts to gain access to a system and confidential data, modify it in some way or delete or render information in the system unusable – are one of the biggest threats facing organizations today.

Process for selecting shelter locations    

A motion concerning shelters, respites and drop-in programs in the east downtown area received Council’s approval. Staff are to provide recommendations to improve public engagement and consultation around locating new shelters, respites and drop-in programs in that area.

Waterfront and island flooding   

Council considered a report on flooding experienced along the waterfront and at Toronto Island Park in 2017 and 2019, and on funding for rehabilitation and repair work to waterfront parks damaged by flooding. Related motions that Council adopted address matters such as financial assistance that the City provides for flooded properties.

Environment and health  

Progress on a low-carbon fleet  

Council adopted a new “green fleet” plan with the goal of moving toward a sustainable, climate-resilient, low-carbon City vehicle fleet. Related objectives include making 45 per cent of the City-owned fleet low-carbon vehicles by 2030. This plan will build on the momentum of the green fleet plan that covered 2014 to 2018 and established the City of Toronto as a Canadian leader in testing and adopting green vehicle technologies and efficient fleet-management practices.

Mental health and addictions  

Council adopted a motion that urges the federal government to invest $900,000 a year to help address Toronto’s mental health and addiction crises. The motion calls on the government to commit to funding parity by investing one dollar on mental health for every dollar spent on physical health. According to the motion, this urgently needed federal investment in Toronto should go toward mental health services and new supportive housing.

Sale of vaping products   

Council supported amending the Toronto Municipal Code to introduce a new licence requirement for vapour (“vaping”) product retailers effective April 1, 2020. The fee structure is the same as for tobacco retailers. The report before Council documented about 80 specialty retailers of vapour products operating in Toronto and many non-specialty retailers such as convenience stores that carry e-cigarette/vaping products. The report also elaborates on related health concerns.

Community support

Child-care in schools   

Council authorized proceeding with the joint approval process for 49 school-based child-care capital projects in co-operation with school boards, as well as up to 20 additional school-based capital projects, subject to provincial funding approval. Council voted to call on the province to reverse its funding formula changes to child care in Ontario and maintain previous levels of funding, and to implement multi-year budgets for child care.

Police presence in Lawrence Heights   

A motion calling on Council to ask the Toronto police to establish a community police office in the Lawrence Heights neighbourhood received Council’s approval. The motion noted that the main police headquarters serving that part of the city is 8.4 kilometres away from Lawrence Heights, and said there is a need for a police office within the community, given the problems of persistent gun violence and other criminal activity in the area.

Culture

Priorities for cultural investment   

A report identifying three strategic priorities to guide the City’s cultural investments over the next five years received Council’s approval. The three priorities involve increasing opportunities for all Torontonians to participate in local cultural activities that reflect the city’s diversity and creativity, maintaining and creating new spaces for the creative sector, and strengthening and increasing the diversity of the cultural workforce.

Changes to cultural grants  

Council approved a proposal to realign the City’s cultural grants program, with the intention of providing more equitable access to funding. Two long-established funding programs (Major Cultural Organizations and Grants to Specialized Collections Museums) will be dismantled as the City introduces two new funding programs in 2020 – called Cultural Festivals and Cultural Access and Development.

Miscellaneous

Appointment of Integrity Commissioner

Council appointed Jonathan Batty as the City’s new Integrity Commissioner, effective November 30. The Integrity Commissioner provides advice, complaint resolution and education to members of City Council and local boards on the application of the City’s codes of conduct, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act and other bylaws, policies and legislation governing ethical behaviour. Valerie Jepson, the previous Integrity Commissioner, completed her five-year appointment this year.

Support for challenge to Quebec’s Bill 21   

Council adopted a member’s motion calling on Toronto City Council to endorse efforts by several cities to mount a national campaign opposing Quebec’s Bill 21 (“secularism legislation”). Bill 21 prohibits public servants in positions of authority in Quebec from wearing religious symbols. The motion that Council supported also reaffirms Toronto’s commitment to upholding religious freedoms and encourages the federal government to condemn and challenge Quebec’s Bill 21.

Enhancement of University Avenue    

Council supported a proposal for implementing the first phase of an initiative that involves illuminating and animating University Avenue with art installations. A group called the Friends of University Avenue plans for a temporary, illuminated art installation to be located at the intersection of University Avenue and Gerrard Street as the first project. University Avenue, known as the most ceremonial street in downtown Toronto, links the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park to Union Station at Front Street.

Road Map to Environmental Action – November 13, 2019

Posted on October 31, 2019

On Wednesday, November 13 join your elected representatives from all 3 levels of government and various Parkdale-High Park environmental groups to work together to design a community action plan to address the climate crisis. This event will be held at Swansea Town Hall (95 Lavinia Ave.) from 7-9pm.

RSVP: https://php-green-road-map.eventbrite.ca

STH Roadmap Poster final.jpeg

Transit Tales – Heritage Talk – November 14, 2019

Posted on October 31, 2019

On November 14,  Heritage York is hosting a Heritage Talk at Lambton House (4066 Old Dundas St.) titled, “Transit Tales”. Trevor Parker-Sciberras and David Reigate’s talk will cover the 150 years of history, from horse-drawn to motorized transportation and feature colorful photographs, vintage film footage, and Lego replicas of buses and streetcars.

Doors open at 7:00pm and talk starts at 7:30pm.

Parkdale Repair Cafe – November 16, 2019

Posted on October 29, 2019

Learn how to fix your broken household items – for free!

Join Repair Cafe Toronto at the Parkdale Library (1303 Queen St W.) on Saturday, November 16, 2019 from 12pm – 4pm.
*visitor registration ends at 3pm

http://repaircafetoronto.ca/event/repair-cafe-at-parkdale-library-3/ |

https://www.facebook.com/events/454852515132742/

Junction Historical Book Launch! November 14, 2019

Posted on October 29, 2019

Revised! Relaunched! West Toronto Junction Revisited!
West Toronto Junction Historical Society welcomes you to the relaunch of the Junction history book classic, now in its 5th edition!
Mark your calendars for November 14, 2019, 7-9 PM at Pandemonium Books, located at 2920 Dundas St. West in the Junction.

Masaryk Park Pumpkin Parade

Posted on October 24, 2019

Join the 10th annual Masaryk Park Pumpkin Parade! Show off your pumpkin and celebrate 10 years of the Pumpkin Graveyard.

Line ’em up in the splash pad on Nov 1 from 6-8pm

Junction Farmers Market’s Potluck Celebration!

Posted on October 24, 2019

Celebrate the 2019 market season with a fall potluck party! It has been an exciting year of delicious local food, produce and drinks – as well as a super successful night market in July!

Bring along a dish, as well as friends and family. Please also consider bringing a non-perishable food item that will be donated to The Four Villages Community Health Centre.

When: Saturday, October 26th from 1:30pm – 4:00pm
Where: Four Villages Health Centre, 3446 Dundas St W

Free parking is available at the TTC Keele Station lot.

We look forward to celebrating with you! Please RSVP here!

Rennie Park Pumpkin Parade

Posted on October 23, 2019

Come to Rennie Park on November 1st for a Pumpkin Parade! Bring your families and your pumpkins and browse all the spooky creations! Starts at dusk.

3rd Annual 8by11 for paper FINAL

Toronto Public Library – Chief Librarian’s Decision

Posted on October 22, 2019

Friends,

Many of you have contacted me about the Chief Librarian’s decision to grant space to Meghan Murphy and urged me to take action to override her decision. I won’t do that. If I did I would be misusing my office and creating a precedent that would do more harm than good for equity seeking groups.

I believe deeply in the rights of gender identity and gender expression and have been proud to use my office to support the struggle to win those rights. I will continue to work to see that those rights are respected.

I also believe that libraries are a cornerstone of a free and open democratic society and that that role rests on a broad application of the principles of free speech.

To manage the conflict that arise in cases like this the Toronto Library Board instituted a room booking policy.

The Library policy has three elements which pertain to this event. First, library staff are given a duty to review any application to see if there are human rights grounds for refusal. The City Librarian did review this application and because she had concerns she contacted City legal staff for advice. They advised her that there is no case law that would provide her grounds for refusal.

The second element of the policy gives library staff the right to monitor the event to ensure that the event does not promulgate hate; I understand that this will happen. Further, the Toronto Police service have been notified of the event. I mention this because hate speech is a criminal code offence and it is within the authority of the police to lay charges. It is not and should not be up to elected officials.

The third part of the policy is that the decision of the City Librarian is final. That is not only appropriate, but is an essential safeguard. Elected officials should never have the right to decide on a case-by-case basis who has the right to speak in a public venue. In recent years, some members of Council attempted to de-fund the Pride Parade for a variety of reasons including the presence of a group called Queers Against Israeli Apartheid. Fortunately, they did not succeed. City staff made it clear that while some were hurt and offended by the presence of this group, its presence did not constitute hate speech and was not a violation of human rights. There are many in politics who would use the power of their office to silence those they disagree with, I will never be one of them.

Governments set policies, like the room booking policy and the hate speech provisions in the criminal code. Enforcing them must remain a separate function.

This has been a difficult issue for me to work through. I hope you will consider my position and that we can continue to work together to find ways to protect and enhance gender identity and gender expression rights.

Gord

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