A message from Gord – April 30, 2020

Posted on April 30, 2020

Dear Ward 4 residents,

Thank you for continuing to stay in your homes and practicing physical distancing.

While the City encourages Torontonians to stay home as much as possible, people who cannot afford home internet face barriers to receiving public health information, pandemic support services, and emergency income supports and have difficulty staying connected to family and friends.

To help extend free internet to low-income neighbourhoods, the City and partners will connect 25 large residential apartment buildings in low-income neighbourhoods with temporary free internet, with the first buildings deployed starting in early May.

The City of Toronto’s Technology Services Division has deployed free 24/7 Wi-Fi access throughout all 10 City-operated long-term care homes. These new Wi-Fi hot spots will allow residents to stay connected to friends and family who are not able to visit during the pandemic and help alleviate the feeling of social isolation.

At times like this, connection is more important than ever.

As announced last week, due to the concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has made the decision to close High Park during the cherry blossom bloom period. With the peak bloom period about to begin, the City will close High Park, starting today, Thursday, April 30.

During the park closure, residents will be able to enjoy the cherry blossom bloom virtually. As with many experiences during COVID-19, this virtual presentation of the blossoms shows that we can always find new ways to come together as a community. For more information and links to the videos visit toronto.ca/cherryblossoms .

For daily updates with the latest information, please visit toronto.ca/covid-19 .

For questions on any Ward 4 or City-related matter, contact our office at councillor_perks@toronto.ca .

Gord

My comments at Council – April 30th, 2020

Posted on April 30, 2020

Today at Council, I advocated for a more democratic and equitable process for public decision making. To watch the full Council meeting visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpeP-Xi_0Sg

 

High Park Nature Centre – Virtual Jane’s Walk events – May 3rd

Posted on April 30, 2020

Jane’s Walk: Medicine Wonder Wander along Niwa’ah onega’haih’ih (colonial name: Humber River)
Sunday May 3, 1:00 – 3:00 pm

Taiaiako’n Historical Preservation Society members Donna Powless and Catherine Tammaro will welcome us with traditional teachings, followed by a Wonder Wander with Joce Two-Crows Tremblay along Niwa’ah onega’haih’ih. As we witness the many medicines, plants, animals, and waters along the way, Two-Crows will offer a restorying of the river and the Land as a medicine in itself. The Wonder Wander will also include the legacy of Two-Spirit work with the Re-sistering Garden, Honorable Harvest and Moon teachings, and drumming and singing.

Jane’s Walk: Dawn Chorus
Sunday, May 3, 9:00 – 9:45 am

Celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day with Mark Peck and Emily Rondel by experiencing the morning chorus of birdsong through two ten-minute videos they recently filmed in the park. There will be time to ask these well-known birders questions following the videos.

We’re starting this online event later in the day to ensure you still have the chance to wake up and listen to the morning chorus of birdsong as the sun rises.

Please RSVP to receive Zoom links and passwords to join these events.

A message from Gord – April 23, 2020

Posted on April 23, 2020

Dear Ward 4 residents,

I am continuing to receive multiple updates each day on the City’s response and I am working hard to share that information with you through my social media channels and in email updates like this.

This year, to encourage residents to stay home and stay safe, High Park will be closed during the pre-bloom and peak boom period of the Cherry Blossom trees. The City is working on a virtual walk-through of the blossoming trees in High Park. While this will be disappointing news both for people who love the Cherry Blossoms, and people who regularly use the park, our first duty is to keep each other safe.

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, many local businesses are in need of short-term economic support and a recovery plan. The City has therefore increased the funding for Digital Main Street Program and launched an online support centre for businesses. Find details on these programs and information on additional resources at toronto.ca/covid19BusinessTO

This morning I received that news that TTC is laying off 1,200 employees. This is terrible. Laying off front line workers delivering critical services and reducing services in the middle of a crisis is not the answer. This is clear evidence that federal and provincial governments should be supporting cities at this time. This morning, Federation of Canadian Municipalities also posted their public appeal for emergency funding to address severe revenue shortfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City is working hard to support the evolving medical needs of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The TTC and Paramedic Services are working together to repurpose five decommissioned TTC buses to safely transport both ambulatory and stretcher-bound patients, including those on ventilators. Modifications to three busses were complete on Tuesday and two are underway.

I know these are stressful times but I am heartened by the efforts of everyone, especially our healthcare workers, to fight this pandemic and save lives. I am confident we will get through this thanks to their hard work and everyone wholeheartedly following the advice from our public health professionals.

Be sure to check toronto.ca/covid-19 for daily updates with the latest health advice and information about City services and social supports.

Sincerely,

Gord

My thoughts on Municipal Finance

Posted on April 23, 2020

Click here to read it as a twitter thread.

Today the Federation of Canadian Municipalities put out a statement asking for $10 -15 Billion in direct federal aid to Cities. This raises some deep questions about public finance, public services and the relationships between orders of government.

The COVID outbreak put an enormous strain on all governments, the fact that municipalities “broke” under that strain reveals an underlying weakness in the current financial and service arrangements between orders of government.

This has happened before. The Great Depression exposed deep problems with who did what. A look at what happened then will help guide us now.

Before the Depression social assistance was provided locally by a hodgepodge of charities (often religious). Today’s Children’s aid societies and the United way are vestigial remnants of that system.

Many municipal governments (including Toronto) had administrative or coordinating roles to make sure that the charity from the wealthy (and some direct government funding) was spent “efficiently”.

This system couldn’t cope when the Depression hit which lead to the first large direct federal role in social assistance, particularly in providing housing and employment insurance.

During the Depression something like 10% of municipalities went bankrupt. This lead to the current legal restriction on municipalities that prevents us from borrowing to cover day-to-day operating costs. It was also a key consideration in the creation of The Bank of Canada.

We need to think on that scale or bigger. The job losses from the first weeks of the pandemic are larger than any period in our economic history.

We also need to understand how bad the City’s finances are. Currently we are spending about $65 million/week more than we take in. For context the total property tax is about $85 million/week. We would need to increase property taxes by 75% if we wanted to cover this ourselves.

This clearly shows that we don’t have the right financial tools for delivering the services we have. This vulnerability is the result of downloading. A few years ago I was at a municipal conference and Hugh MacKenzie presented a graphic representation of downloading.

This shows how much of public capital was owned by which government over time. It only goes to 2003, but the trend continues. Ownership of the assets matters because with ownership comes the responsibility for maintenance. Toronto is tens of billions behind on maintenance.

The story on the operating side is worse. Some of the services for which Toronto has full or partial responsibility, but does not have the financial capacity to carry are shelters, childcare, home for the aged, social housing, and transit.

You may have seen that the TTC is planning to lay off a huge part of it’s workforce. Without help this is just the tip of the iceberg.

FCM is right we need immediate cash. However the impact of COVID will last for years. We also need to negotiate a realignment of roles, responsibilities and revenues.

Finally, cities will be need to provide stimulus and jobs through public works the Feds will have to help with that too. Councillor Joe Cressy wrote about that here. This is an urgent public conversation that needs to take place in full public view.

3194 Dundas Street West Development Update

Posted on April 23, 2020

A rezoning application has been filed by Gairloch Developments to construct an 8-storey mixed-use building at 3194 Dundas Street West. The application proposes 122 m2 of non –residential space at grade, with 88 residential units above, and 55 car parking spaces below. Details are available on the City’s Application Information Centre here.

A pre-application meeting was held on December 9, 2019. City Planning Staff will begin work on a Preliminary Report reviewing the application. There will be further community consultation, however the format is not yet confirmed.

Note: At this time, the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order suspends limitation periods and procedural time periods set out in legislation and regulation.  This suspension of time periods applies to all Planning Act procedural timelines, including complete application and decision timelines. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020.​

 

A message from Gord – April 16, 2020

Posted on April 16, 2020

Dear Ward 4 residents,

The advice from Toronto’s public health officials has been clear and consistent: to stop the community spread of this deadly virus, we must reduce all contact with others as much as possible.

To assist residents experiencing stress and anxiety due to being isolated, quarantined with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, experiencing financial hardships or other mental health stressors, the City has partnered with key mental health service providers to support the mental wellbeing of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents during this time.

Residents can call 211 to access support and get connected to one of seven primary mental health service partners for direct phone support. Mental health service information is also available at 211toronto.ca.

During this time, individuals experiencing homelessness are particularly vulnerable. There are currently 30 confirmed client cases of COVID-19 in the city’s emergency shelter system. The City, with the help of our community and heath sector partners has put measures in place for active screening, testing and providing isolation spaces to slow transmission and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our emergency shelter system.

We have moved over 1,000 people to programs that meet a range of client needs, including spaces in community centers, hotel rooms, and permanent housing and we are on track to move another 1000 into new spaces by April 30.

While these measures are being taken to directly address the issue at hand, I have and will continue to advocate for permanent housing for all to fight for housing as a human right.

To stay updated on the City’s ongoing response to COVID-19, visit https://www.toronto.ca/covid-19/ .

Sincerely,

Gord

Suspension of Planning Timelines

Posted on April 16, 2020

The Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order (O. Reg 73/20) under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspends limitation periods and procedural time periods set out in legislation and regulation.  This suspension of time periods applies to all Planning Act procedural timelines, including complete application and decision timelines. This includes Committee of Adjustment timelines to appeal a decision. In addition, all procedural periods under the Heritage Act and the City of Toronto Act will be suspended. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020.

This order also impacts the operations and current proceedings before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) and Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB).  The LPAT has issued directions regarding current appeal proceedings before the LPAT which can be viewed at https://elto.gov.on.ca/tribunals/lpat/about-lpat/.  The TLAB issued a similar direction. It has suspended all hearing events and will not schedule any new ones until May 29, 2020. TLAB public offices are closed at 40 Orchard View Blvd. All hearings are postponed and a notice of the new hearing date will be provided by the tribunal at a future date.  Both the LPAT and the TLAB have indicated that they will be monitoring the situation and will reconsider their directions if circumstance warrant.

The situation with COVID-19 is unprecedented and is evolving every day. The City of Toronto will continue to follow directions from provincial and federal authorities and health agencies.  For a list of City facilities and services, including City Planning services, affected by Toronto’s State of Emergency due to COVID-19 please visit https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/affected-city-services/.

1488 Queen Street West Development Update

Posted on April 16, 2020

A rezoning application to construct a 6-storey building has been filed for 1488 Queen St West, current site of Guardian Drugs. The application proposes 190 m2 of non –residential gfa with 29 residential dwelling units and 3 parking space. Details are available on the City’s Application Information Centre at https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/application-information-centre/

A pre-application meeting was held on February 20th, 2020. City Planning Staff will begin work on a Preliminary Report reviewing the application.

There will be further community consultation, however the format is not yet confirmed.

Note: At this time, the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order suspends limitation periods and procedural time periods set out in legislation and regulation.  This suspension of time periods applies to all Planning Act procedural timelines, including complete application and decision timelines. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020.

 

1375 Queen Street West Development Update

Posted on April 16, 2020

A rezoning application has been filed by Skale Developments to construct an 8-storey

mixed-use building at 1375 Queen St West, at Close Ave. The application proposes 443 m2 of non –residential gfa with 46 rental dwelling units and 1 car share parking space. Details are available on the City’s Application Information Centre at https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/application-information-centre/

A pre-application meeting was held on February 25th, 2020. City Planning Staff will begin work on a Preliminary Report reviewing the application.

There will be further community consultation, however the format is not yet confirmed.

Note: At this time, the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order suspends limitation periods and procedural time periods set out in legislation and regulation.  This suspension of time periods applies to all Planning Act procedural timelines, including complete application and decision timelines. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020.

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