My thoughts on the police motions at Council

Posted on June 30, 2020

This week the role of Toronto Police Services, the policing budget, and the systemic racism that exists in our own City government and institutions was debated at City Council.  Like the tens of thousands of you who called my office, sent in emails, and fought for change, I am disappointed in the results of this meeting. Despite the outpouring of outrage and activism throughout Toronto and around the world, Council chose not to take any steps to defund the Toronto Police Services budget. You have the right to feel let down by your government, and I stand with you in your sadness and anger.

While we all have the right to feel disillusioned, I must acknowledge some of the important measures that did pass. Council approved a motion requesting the City Manager report on implementing a Mobile Crisis Assistance Intervention Service, that would deploy unarmed, medically trained crisis intervention assistance personnel, based on the “CAHOOTS” model from Eugene, Oregon. There is also a request to the Provincial government to expand the City of Toronto’s jurisdiction to include auditing the Toronto Police Service. While these are small steps, they are steps in the right direction.

It is important that we do not lose sight of what has happened. A worldwide movement has started to finally take a firm stance against the systemic racism that exists in our society.  Both the Police Chief and the majority of Councillors admitted that structural racism exists in our City’s institution, including Toronto Police Services, and that it is something we must fix. We cannot let the hard work you have put in be in vain. We must continue to call on all levels of government to stamp out the racism that exist in our government and society.  There is more work to be done, and together we must continue to push forward, and not let this momentum fade.

My office will reach out and share updates as they become available, as well as to share opportunities to organize.

As always, I remain available to continue this discussion.

Gord

Policing in Toronto, and Anti-Black & Indigenous Racism

Posted on June 25, 2020

We have seen the dramatic outpouring of anger and sadness this past month, as people in Toronto and around the world fight for change to the systemic racism that is prevalent throughout our society.   I have received hundreds of phones calls and tens of thousands of emails regarding the role of Toronto Police Services, the policing budget, and the systemic racism that exists in our own City government and institutions.  My staff and I decided to record a conversation on these issues, and discuss the themes and topics you are asking of me and our city government. While COVID-19 may stop us from host a traditional town hall, it is important we have these conversations in all types of spaces. I hope this new format will shed some light into my thoughts and process to best represent our concerns and protest going forward.

Spring/Summer Newsletter: Developments

Posted on June 25, 2020

Since the sate of emergency development applications have slowed as the Planning Department prioritized completing site plan of existing approved developments.  As the development process starts to re-open we have our first development going to July City Council, which will be followed by an updated community consultation system starting in the fall.  During this time the provincial government has removed the 210 day timeline for a decision from the municipal government, reducing the fear of an intimidate LPAT appeal.

1540 Bloor St West

An application has been submitted proposing a 25-storey mixed-use building. The application proposes 327 residential units and 100 parking spaces in a below ground parking garage. City Planning staff are currently reviewing the application. A pre-application meeting was held on April 10th, 2019,  Further consultation with the community will take place in the near future.

1630-1632 Bloor St West

A 6-storey building has been approved for this site with retail atgrade and hotel use at the upper levels. A total of 9 parking spaces will be provided at the rear of the site, which is accessed via laneway. The applicant is currently working with City Staff to complete an acceptable Site Plan.

1660 Bloor St West

This pre-application site plan proposes a 12-storey mixed-use building including 119 rental units and retail at-grade. It would contain 49 vehicle parking spaces and 119 bicycle parking spaces located within three levels of underground parking accessed from Indian Rd. This site falls within the Bloor Avenue study area.

2115-2117 Bloor St West

An 8-storey mixed-use building with proposed office and retail on the ground and second floors, and 43 residential units above was approved in 2016. A Site Plan was approved in March 2018. City Planning staff advise that a number of outstanding issues remain on this site that need to be addressed before construction starts.

2442-2454 Bloor St West

The Zoning By-law amendment application for this site has been finalized. In April 2019, the developer, the City, and all other parties to the appeal reached a settlement for a 12-storey building on site, which the LPAT approved. A Site Plan application, including streetscaping at the northeast corner of Bloor St W and Riverview Gardens, remains under review. A demolition application for the buildings onsite has been approved.

11 Brock Ave

The City of Toronto has taken possession of the property and building at 11 Brock Ave (former site of the LCBO) and will begin to negotiate an application for affordable housing.

57 Brock Ave 

The applicant reached an agreement with the City in 2018 for a 7-storey residential building, with 2 levels of above-ground parking adjacent to the railway. A site plan remains under review.

155-157 Cowan Ave 

An application has been submitted for a 4-storey, 33-unit residential building including rental replacement units. Discussions between City Planning and the developer continue.

340-376R Dufferin St and 2 Melbourne Ave 

A rezoning application has been submitted for this property to change the existing uses onsite, with no changes to the built form. A pre-application community meeting was held in Oct 2019 where the potential uses were discussed. City Planning is currently reviewing the application. A preliminary report to Community Council is upcoming with community consultation to follow.

2280 Dundas St West (Loblaws site)

Several community meetings have been held for this 13 acre site, including a roundtable workshop. However, the project is currently on hold. When work resumes, more community feedback will be sought, with community meetings and roundtables to come.

2376 Dundas St West

An OMB decision in March 2014 approved an 8-storey mid-rise building with a 24-storey component at the rear of the site. The Site Plan application has been approved by the City. Soil remediation work on-site is ongoing.

2639 Dundas St West

In July 2018, City Council approved an application for an 8-storey residential building with 107 units, 47 parking spaces, and 192 bicycle parking spaces. The site plan remains under review.

2706-2730 Dundas St West 

An OMB settlement offer was accepted in August 2018 between the developer and the City which allows for a 9-storey building containing 151 residential units with retail at grade. Site plan was approved in early 2020.

2946-2968 Dundas St West

An application was submitted in March 2019 for an 8-storey mid-rise building consisting of a mix of 102 residential units, office space, and ground-level retail. The zoning change was approved at Council with the facade of 2946- 2952 Dundas St W being conserved, as it has been identified as having cultural heritage value. The application is currently working towards site plan approval.

2978-2988 Dundas St West

This proposal is for an 8-storey building with retail at-grade and 80 residential units above. The partial 8th storey will contain indoor amenity space and access to an outdoor rooftop amenity space. It will require the demolition of 7 existing rental units, which will be replaced in the new building. City Council’s July 2018 approval was appealed to the LPAT by a local community group, but the appeal was dismissed by the LPAT on Dec 3, 2019. The development proposal will now move forward as originally approved.

3194-3206 Dundas St West

In Dec 2019, a pre-application meeting was held for a potential development at this site. The meeting was an opportunity for the developer to share their intentions with the community and City Planning staff prior to a formal submission of their application for an 8-storey residential building. The formal submission was submitted in June 2020.  At this point the first City community consultation is expected to take place in September 2020 (dependent of the state of the state of emergency declaration).

3385 Dundas St West

City Council has approved a 7-storey mixed-use building comprised of 131 residential units with  a minimum of 10 affordable rental apartment units as a Section 37 benefit. Site Plan is being completed, and excavation has begun.

3775-4005 Dundas St West

A rezoning application for a 12-storey residential building with 293 residential units was approved in 2017. There is now a re-submission for Site Plan approval of a 13-storey rental building with a narrowed envelope, smaller overall square footage, increased ground floor height, and added mezzanine. The applicant is currently applying to the Committee of Adjustments in support of these changes.  Demolition of the current buildings were conditionally approved in July 2020.

150 Dunn Ave 

The UHN long-term care facility on Dunn Ave has put forward an application to construct a 6-storey expansion to their institution to accommodate 200 new long-term care beds. A pre-application meeting was held in May 2019. The applicant continues to work with City Planning staff to finalize an acceptable submission.

299 Glenlake Ave 

A rezoning application was approved in Jan 2019 for an 11-storey, 123 unit infill apartment building. The proposed building will be added to the same site as an existing 30-storey residential apartment building with 233 units. City Planning staff advised that the proposed development represents appropriate infill within the High Park Apartment Neighbourhood Area, fitting within the existing and planned context of the area, and recommended approval of the application. A Site Plan review remains under consideration.

8-14 High Park Ave and 1908-1920 Bloor St West

A proposal at this site for a 3-storey child care building with 15 micro-retail/service units fronting the TTC bus platform was put forward in March 2016. The file remains under review.

35, 41-63, 65, & 95 High Park Ave and 66 & 102-116 Pacific Ave 

First submitted in Dec 2016, a settlement offer for this proposal was considered at City Council in Dec 2019. Council supported the City Solicitor’s recommendations to develop three buildings with heights of 11-, 30-, and 36-storeys. The proposed buildings will be added to the four rental apartment buildings which would be maintained, ranging in height from 15 to 26 storeys. Twenty 2-storey townhouses would be demolished as part of this proposal.

248 & 260 High Park Ave

An application has been approved to convert this heritage-protected church into a 77 unit residential building including a 4-storey addition to the top, west, and south sides. The church building will remain. There is a heritage designation on the Sunday School building such that the wall along Annette St and a portion of the western school wing will be retained. Two levels of underground parking will create 91 car parking spaces and 77 bicycle parking spaces.  Pre-construction is currently taking place.

200 Keele St & 203 Oakmount Rd 

A proposal for a 4-storey condo building containing 52 residential units with rental townhouses at grade has been proposed at this site. A later Committee of Adjustment application approved a lot severance for the site, and a request for minor variances to zoning was refused and appealed to the OMB. This proposal is once again going to be heard before the OMB.

406-410 Keele St

A settlement offer was accepted for construction of a 5-storey (including mezzanine level above the ground floor) residential building containing 30 residential units. The building will front on both Keele St and Vine Ave. Vehicular access is proposed from Vine Ave to a below ground parking garage. The site plan remains under review.

1182 & 1221 King St West

In Feb 2018, after going to the OMB but before a ruling was made, a settlement was reached between the City and this applicant to construct a 14-storey building on the southwest corner and a 19-storey building on the northeast corner of King St W and Dufferin St. Work on this application continues as it moves to its next steps. A workable Site Plan is currently being prepared, with conditions of approval from the City that must be met.

1926 Lake Shore Blvd West

Two 38-storey mixed-use towers were approved in Oct 2014 as part of an OMB order. In Dec 2019, the Committee of Adjustment approved an application to increase the height by 0.6m to accommodate a higher floor to ceiling height for the underground parking levels.

1978-2002 Lake Shore 

In 2017 an application was submitted at this site for two towers, 21- and 26-storeys tall, containing residential units and commercial at grade. This was above the 65 meter strata placed on the site. In May 2020 an updated application was submitted within the allowed limit.  The City is currently examining this proposal.

6 Noble St

The City has settled the OMB appeal with this developer and accepted an 8-storey building with some non-residential space on the ground floor and housing above, containing 101 residential units and two levels of below grade parking, with 115 spaces for bicycle parking. The Site Plan is currently being prepared.

111 Pacific Ave, 255 Glenlake Ave, and 66 Oakmount Rd 

This application was considered at City Council in Dec 2019. Council supported the City Solicitor’s recommendations to construct two towers, 32 and 25 storeys in height, as well as a row of 3-storey townhouses. The proposed build will be added to the 3 rental apartment buildings currently on site ranging in height from 12 to 23 storeys.

1296-1314 Queen St West

A pre-application meeting was held in Jan 2020 for a 7-storey building including commercial at grade, hotel units facing Queen St W, and residential units facing Noble Ave. A formal submission is expected to occur in the coming months.

1375 Queen St West

A pre-application meeting was held in Feb 2020 to review a proposal for an 8-storey rental building on this vacant site. An application was submitted in . City Planning staff will begin review of documents with a Preliminary Report to Toronto East York Community Council and further community consultation to follow.

1488 Queen St West

A pre-application meeting was held in Feb 2020 to review a proposal for a 6 storey building on this site. An application was submitted in . City Planning staff will begin review of documents with a Preliminary Report to Toronto East York Community Council and further community consultation to follow.

1521 Queen St West 

An application has been submitted at this site for an 8-storey building containing 78 residential units and retail on the ground floor, with 0 vehicle parking spots, 3 car share spaces, and 84 bicycle parking spots. The City is aware of the history of evictions from 2015 on this site and will remain mindful of this as the planning process continues. Another community meeting will be held in the near future.

51-77 Quebec & 40-66 High Park Ave

As per a decision rendered by the OMB in July 2015, this development consists of two 25-storey apartment buildings built on the site of the existing townhouse blocks, with townhouse units at the ground levels, and a total of 528 residential units. The two existing 20-storey buildings will remain as is, with a new indoor amenity building constructed at the north end of the property. Construction is currently underway

421 Roncesvalles Ave 

After an appeal to the LPAT seeking rezoning approval to build a 7-storey office building, the applicant and the City reached an agreement for a 5-storey (26.5m with mechanical penthouse) mixed-use office building with at-grade retail. The new construction would retain the existing heritage protected 2-storey former bank.

422-436 Roncesvalles Ave & 75 Howard Park Ave

The developer reached a settlement with City Planning to build an 8-storey building with accompanying townhouses at 76 Howard Park Ave after appealing to the OMB with their initial plans. The Site Plan has been approved and construction is currently underway.

625 Runnymede Rd (Long-Term Care Expansion) 

The province is offering funding for hospitals who can create, at minimum, 200 long-term care beds and have occupants by 2022. As a result this proposal is for a 5-storey building on the south end of the property, with 42 underground parking spaces, to hold 200 new beds. Community meetings were held in April and Oct 2019. The final report is expected to go to City Council in July 2020.

34 Southport St

In 2012 City Council approved a mixed-use development consisting of 29- and 26-storey apartment buildings and a 3-storey townhouse block which contain, in total, 558 residential units. The approval was appealed by The South Kingsway Neighbourhood Committee and the Swansea Area Ratepayers Association to the OMB, who approved the proposed development. In 2015 the owner applied to permit a larger grocery store and modify the built form, layout of the site, and location of parking spaces. The requested variances were approved, which among other matters, increased the tower heights to 30- and 27-storeys. The Site Plan Application continues to be worked on.

41 Wabash Ave

A  rezoning application was approved to retain and convert the existing 3-storey heritage building onsite into residential and add 4-storey residential townhouses to the south, for a combined total of 16 new residential units. As part of the agreement, the adjacent Charles G Williams Park will be gaining a strip of land 1.5m wide along its eastern boundary. Due to the enlargement, the wall running along the eastern edge of the park will need to be removed, and a new fence will replace it, with a new wall running approximately along the length of the basketball court. Community input will be sought during the site plan process.

Spring/Summer Newsletter: Transportation

Posted on June 18, 2020

Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE)

The ASE program uses a camera and a speed measurement device to detect and capture images of vehicles travelling in excess of the posted speed limit. 50 ASE systems will be installed across the city with two systems per ward, on a rotating basis. Locations are selected through a data-driven approach that considers speed and collision data.

Bloor Bikeway Extension from Shaw Street to Runnymede Road

Over the course of 2019, there were extensive consultations with Bloor Street communities and businesses to ensure that this project reflected local needs. This project has received overwhelming support from local residents and businesses and is a testament to the progress that is possible in our City.

City Council approved its implementation on May 28th. Installation is scheduled to start by August of this year. ​

Material from the last public event held earlier this year is available online at toronto.ca/bloorwestbikeway.

Beaty Ave Bike Signals Installed at Queen St W

In addition to the previous year’s cycling infrastructure changes on Beaty Ave and Dowling Ave, the City installed a bicycle signal head for cyclists traveling north on Sorauren Ave from Queen St W. The pavement markings through this intersection were installed in spring 2020.

Bloor South Kingsway 

Over the past year Transportation Services staff have continued to study the Bloor South Kingsway area, meet with stakeholders, and review comments from residents. Based on this work, staff are putting together proposed design changes to the intersection which will be presented to the community soon. The meeting date and location will be posted on my website once confirmed.

Dundas St W / Dupont St / Annette St / Old Weston Rd Intersection

Transportation staff continue to review this intersection to see what changes can be made to improve safety. In August, Transportation Services retained a planning and engineering firm to assist them with evaluating design options, in part based on feedback received from nearby residents’ associations. In Nov 2019, City Staff received a draft transportation analysis for the intersection from the planning consultant and are working with them to resolve any remaining issues.

Dundas St W / Howard Park Ave / Lynd Ave Intersection 

Members of the community met in 2013 and 2014 to discuss ongoing safety concerns at this intersection. This led to temporary measures being put in place in 2014 until the intersection could be reconstructed. This work will now be happening this summer and will be coupled with TTC Track replacements.

King St W / Queen St W / The Queensway / Roncesvalles Ave (KQQR) Intersection

For much of 2019, TTC and City Staff have been working out the most effective way to reconstruct this intersection while ensuring timing lines up with other nearby projects and minimizing disruption to the community. Based on existing variables, the work at KQQR will start in 2021.

Lansdowne Ave Mural 

The mural currently on the underpass on Lansdowne Ave between Queen St W and Dundas St W has proven to be extremely vulnerable to tagging. To address this, StART is working with artists on a series of engagement sessions with local community groups to gather themes and inspiration from the community for a new mural, to be installed across 2020-2021.

Parkside Dr at Howard Park Ave

The right-turn channel at the northeast corner is being removed to eliminate the current condition where pedestrians are required to cross the slip lane as an uncontrolled crossing. The work is taking place this summer and will be coupled with TTC track replacements.

West Toronto Railpath Extension

The West Toronto Railpath Extension is a planned multi-use trail that will extend the Railpath south, from Dundas Street West and Sterling Road to Abell Street and Sudbury Street. The completion of the design is expected in the latter half of 2020.

Speed Limit Reductions

Earlier this year, City Council approved speed limit reductions on nearly 250km of roads across the City. Speed limit reductions are coming to minor arterials over 50 km/h, collector roads over 40 km/h, and on all local roads to 30 km/h, reducing the speed limits across Ward 4. Implementation is to be done on a ward basis over the next 5 years with priority going to wards with a higher rate of pedestrian and cyclist collisions.

 

TTC COVID-19 Update – Mandatory Masks starting July 2

Posted on June 18, 2020

Effective July 2, masks or face coverings are mandatory when travelling on the TTC, with the exception of:

  • Children under two years of age.
  • Persons with an underlying medical condition which inhibits the ability to wear a mask or face covering.
  • Persons who are unable to place or remove a mask or face covering without assistance.
  • TTC employees and agents within an area designated for TTC personnel and not for public access, or within or behind a physical barrier or shield.
  • Additional accommodations in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code will also be considered.

. Instructions for wearing a mask and making your own simple face covering are available here.

TTC COVID-19 Update June 18 2020

Daily Migration Virtual Art Workshops: Call for Participation – Apply by June 19.

Posted on June 18, 2020

The STEPS Initiative is a Canadian-based public art organization that develops one-of-a-kind art initiatives
and engagement strategies that transform public spaces.

Daily Migration is a community-engaged arts project offering creative engagement and social connection through a series of virtual art workshops that will lead to an exhibition and inform the production of a mural in Toronto’s Parkdale community.
Do you have a personal connection with the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto?
Do you self-identify as a newcomer and are between the ages of 18-35?
Want to contribute to a co-created mural?
Interested in creating artwork that explores stories of belonging, home, travel and migration?

APPLY HERE by June 19, 4pm

STEPS Daily Migration Virtual Art Workshops_ Call for Participation

City’s Update on Farmer’s Markets

Posted on June 13, 2020

City of Toronto is working with market organizers to safely reopen farmers’ markets usually located on 22 City sites.

Farmers’ markets are valued members of the food supply chain and provide Torontonians with access to fresh fruits and vegetables, encourage residents to get outside and be physically active, and support the local agriculture sector.

The decision to reopen City-permitted farmers’ markets has been made in consultation with Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. Toronto Public Health has developed a guidance document PDF to help organizers, staff and vendors reduce the spread of COVID-19. It provides recommendations on public health measures such as crowd control, physical distancing, hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection.

The City usually hosts 22 farmers’ markets on the following directly operated City sites:

  • Civic Squares: Albert Campbell Square, David Pecaut Square, East York Civic Centre, Etobicoke Civic Centre, Mel Lastman Square and Nathan Phillips Square
  • Parks: Dufferin Grove Park, East Lynn Park, Flemingdon Park, Humber Bay Park West, Jonathan Ashbridge Park, June Rowlands Park, Lakeshore Village Park, Masaryk Park, Riverdale Park West, R.V. Burgess Park, Sorauren Avenue Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Underpass Park, Withrow Park, Wychwood Barns
  • Toronto Museums and Historic Sites: Montgomery Inn

The City is working with market organizers to determine the potential reopening of these markets this season in compliance with provincial rules and public health guidelines.

The City-operated Saturday Farmers’ Market at the St. Lawrence Market will open its seasonal outdoor market areas tomorrow for the 2020 growing season, until approximately November 14.

St. Lawrence Market has worked with the City’s CurbTO program to relocate the outdoor area onto Market Street between The Esplanade and Wilton Street to allow for physical distancing. Lineup areas for the indoor and outdoor farmers’ market will start on Market Street and both areas will operate every Saturday from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Customers are strongly encouraged to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while shopping at the market.

The St. Lawrence Market Complex has continuously operated indoor market areas during the COVID-19 health emergency under the guidance of Toronto Public Health and the Province of Ontario’s essential workplaces.

Additional market opening dates will be determined by the capacity of organizers to comply with Toronto Public Health guidelines and the required divisional permitting process. Permitting divisions will make every effort to prioritize areas of the city that face food insecurity.

Organizers are encouraged to contact their relevant City permitting bodies. Based on individual market site restrictions, City permitting divisions may have additional recommendations and heightened requirements where appropriate.

A helpful list of some farmers’ markets located in the Greater Toronto Area is available at greenbeltfresh.ca Opens in new window. Members of the public should check with individual markets for opening dates and protocols.

City of Toronto working to safely reopen licensed child care centres

Posted on June 12, 2020

City of Toronto is beginning a phased approach to reopening City-run licensed child care centres starting Monday, June 29 with the enhanced health and safety measures laid out by the Province of Ontario to keep children, their families and child care centre workers safe.

On June 9, the province made the announcement that child care centres can reopen as of June 12 and released a set of guidelines that child care operators must adhere to in order to reopen safely. The guidelines can be found on the Ministry of Education’s website. 

Some of the requirements in the guidelines include limiting cohort sizes, having a COVID-19 response plan if someone connected to the centre is exposed to the virus, screening staff and children prior to entering, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, no visitors permitted in the centres, and implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing. Many of these requirements are already in place at the City’s emergency child care centres and will be applied to other centres in the child care system.

Based on the experience of Toronto emergency child care centres, reopening the child care sector, including City’s Toronto Early Learning and Child Care Services (TELCCS), will need to be gradual to allow operators time to prepare capacity limits on group sizes, and implement health and safety protocols outlined in the guidelines. City staff have conducted an assessment of current TELCCS sites to determine which sites can be reopened with the new guidelines in place. Toronto Public Health guidelines for child care centres will be posted online next week. Inspection is not required prior to reopening.

The Province also announced that emergency child care, and the associated provincial funding, will end on June 26. The City will work with families currently using the emergency child care centres to find alternative arrangements. The Province will continue to cover child care fees for these families until June 26, whether they continue to access emergency child care during this time or have transitioned to another child care arrangement.

The City is also developing a plan for prioritizing families in the event that the demand exceeds the number of spaces in TELCCS. The Province has provided suggestions to all operators to help them prioritize child care spaces, including for children who were accessing emergency child care, parents who must return to work and cannot work from home, and special circumstances.

Based on the provincial guidelines, all licensed home child care providers will be required to adhere to new operational requirements. The City and its child care operators will not charge fees to existing child care families if they do not have access to a space or decide not to accept a space. During reopening, TELCC fees will remain at the same rate as they were prior the closure.

The just released provincial funding plan assumes that through a combination of federal supports, available provincial and municipal funding, and parent fees, the operating costs of Stage 2 will be fully funded with no undue pressure to operators, families, or municipal budgets. City officials are contacting operators today to let them know the funding guidelines are now available and we expect no undue pressure for operators or families.

Message from Gord – June 11, 2020

Posted on June 11, 2020

Over the past few weeks we have seen a growing movement around the world to combat anti-Black racism. Here in ward 4 I have been touched by the steps our community has taken during these difficult times.  From marches, to education projects, to the tens of thousands of emails I received, our community is showing its ability to push for systemic change.

Let me be clear, anti-Black racism is real and pervasive in our City. As a society we must do, and demand, better. To start, I will be supporting a motion moving 10% of the police budget to investment to enhance resiliency in marginalized communities. For my full statement on this motion, please visit my website.  While this is a move in the right direction, it is only the first step we as a City need to take.

Board of Health

On Monday, June 8, we held our second virtual Board of Health Meeting. I wanted to highlight some important steps we took as a Board.

As part of the recommendations in the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, we voted to urge the federal Minister of Health to grant an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to permit the possession of all drugs for personal use, at least for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to immediately scale up prevention, harm reduction, and treatment services. We know that the impact of the toxic drug supply is worsened for people who use drugs by the impacts of the community spread of COVID-19. Suspected opioid overdose calls to the Toronto Paramedics Service have been higher in February, March and April 2020. With April 2020 marking the highest number of suspected opioid overdose-related deaths in a month since September 2017.

The recommendations in the Overdose Action Plan are critical in saving lives and leading us forward in our work addressing the ongoing opioid poisoning crisis. It is time to be having a conversation about decriminalization and how the use of drugs can be handled by the health system rather than the justice system.

I am also pleased to share we voted to declare anti-Black racism a public health crisis and requested the Medical Officer of Health make recommendations to the Board of Health on reprioritizing City of Toronto resources to address the social determinants of health, including specifically a focus on anti-Black racism through the 2021 Budget process and COVID-19 recovery planning. Steps like this must be taken through all divisions and levels of government to help remove systemic issues that affect the inequalities built into our government.

Spring/Summer Newsletter

Prior to the City’s state of emergency declaration, my team and I were busy working on our spring newsletter to update you on what is happening in Ward 4. Since then we have seen dramatic changes throughout the City, as both city staff and our community have had to face the new realities of living in the COVID-19 era. While information is changing fast, I think it is important you are kept informed on topics that are relevant to you.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing an updated version of our spring newsletter, starting this week with Our Parks & Community Centres.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out, as my team and I would be happy to assist you as we move through this challenging time together.

Sincerely,

Gord

My comments on anti-Black racism and the motion on police budget

Posted on June 11, 2020

There is currently a motion expected at the June City Council meeting which includes moving 10% of the police budget to investment to “enhance resiliency in marginalized communities,” including community-led alternatives to policing, programs to help at-risk youth and affordable housing, as well as anti-racism education.

I will be supporting this motion.  My record at City Council has consistently been to request or support the request to decrease the police budget as well as moving police budget dollars to much needed community services.

Anti-Black racism is real and pervasive in our City. As a society we must do, and demand, better.

It is essential that the City of Toronto maintain a strong commitment to resourcing and supporting the work of the Indigenous Affairs Office and to fully implement the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.

Further, our funding priorities must be centred on a robust system of social supports and services, including ongoing investments in Black and marginalized communities. No budgetary demand of the TPS should ever stand in the way of that system.

There may also be an opportunity to begin to reallocate service.  Many of our 911 emergency calls are requesting a response to a Mental Health crisis for example, that response may be more appropriately responded to by a Mental Health professional. We need to provide appropriate response to 911 calls,  as we do when responding to a fire – fire department, or a heart attack- paramedic.

Finally, we must take action to invest in our resources to address these inequities head-on. The City works to apply an equity lens on every budget decision it makes, which is a good first step, but more must be done and it starts with properly funding of City services.

Gord

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