Message from Gord – May 21, 2020

Posted on May 21, 2020

While our city, along with the rest of the world, faces this difficult time, I have been comforted by the outpouring of help and support our Parkdale – High Park community has shared with each other. Seeing residents provide a helping hand to their neighbours, supporting our local restaurants and businesses, and donate meals to our health care workers has been heartwarming. I feel it is more important than ever that we come together, not only to get through this pandemic, but to rebuild a stronger, more just society for all residents of Toronto.

Next Thursday,  May 28 I will be hosting a Facebook Live Town Hall at 7:00 pm to discuss both the current recovery efforts, and what we as a society can do moving forward. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and questions. As this will be our first virtual Town Hall, I am sure there will be some bumps in the road, but by working together our community can take an active role defining what type of city emerges from the recovery effort.

To help start the process, please email a question with the subject line, “Town Hall” in advance to ward04@toronto.ca, including your name, and what neighbourhood you live in. I hope to see you on Thursday, May 28 at facebook.com/GordPerks.

Following the Province of Ontario’s amendments to an order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the City has lifted some restrictions related to vehicle access into High Park. On weekdays (Monday through Friday) vehicle access into the park will again be permitted. However, as part of Active TO, on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays), High Park will only be accessible to foot traffic to allow for physical distancing.

The City is opening over 850 park amenities and expanding ActiveTO major road closures this weekend.

Along with these measures and the weather warming up, more people will be outdoors. I urge you to continue staying two metres apart and where physical distancing can absolutely not be maintained, wear face masks or face coverings in public.

Continue visiting toronto.ca/covid-19 for the most up-to-date information from the City.

Gord

Over 850 park amenities to open this week

Posted on May 21, 2020

Following the Province of Ontario’s amendments to an order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the City will open more than 850 park amenities this week.

The City moved quickly Tuesday to open more than 70 off-leash dog parks across Toronto.

Five BMX locations, 14 skateboard parks and four disc golf locations opened yesterday. Many parks’ parking lots will also reopen this week at parks across the city.

Park amenities scheduled to open in time for this upcoming weekend include:
• picnic shelters
• more than 300 soccer and multi-use outdoor fields
• more than 300 baseball diamonds and
• 150 basketball courts.

Staff are also preparing more than 600 tennis courts at 185 locations, to begin to open this weekend. The reopening of parks amenities will continue into next week, as staff work with Toronto Public Health to open lawn bowling facilities and outdoor bocce.

Permits for soccer, multi-use fields and baseball diamonds continue to be cancelled until June 29. Individuals may use outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields for non-team sports, such as walking, running, biking, skateboarding, frisbee, kicking a ball, and low contact racquet sports like tennis, badminton, pickleball and ping pong. Individuals are not permitted to play team sports, such as soccer or baseball, even on fields intended for this purpose unless they are members of the same household.

Park amenities that continue to be closed include playgrounds, outdoor exercise equipment, swimming pools and splash pads. Greenhouses, nurseries and conservatories, High Park Zoo and Riverdale Farm also remain closed. Waterfront parking lots will remain closed for the time being, and High Park will continue to be closed to traffic on the weekends.

While visiting a park, people must continue to practise physical distancing. Signage is being installed at open park amenity areas to remind users of the importance of physical distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 to protect the safety and well-being of all residents. People must always stay two metres (six feet) apart while visiting the City’s parks. If a resident arrives at an amenity that is crowded, they are advised to wait until there is enough space to physically distance or return at another time.

The City’s COVID-19 Enforcement Team will continue monitoring popular parks across the city to ensure residents are practising physical distancing. Enforcement of the City’s physical distancing bylaw and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act orders is ongoing.

Residents are encouraged to use the self-assessment tool on the Ontario Ministry of Health website for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before heading out to use a park amenity. It is available at covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment. If residents do not pass the assessment, they should remain at home and not use park amenities.

Parts of Lake Shore Blvd to be closed May 23 & 24 for ActiveTO

Posted on May 21, 2020

City of Toronto will expand its ActiveTO major road closures footprint this weekend to provide residents with more space to physically distance while outdoors and getting exercise, while helping stop the spread of COVID-19. Vehicle access on parts of more major roads will be closed for walking, running and biking this Saturday and Sunday.

The following three major road closures are planned this weekend from Saturday, May 23 at 6 a.m. until Sunday, May 24 at 11 p.m.:

• Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. The eastbound Gardiner Expressway off ramp to Lake Shore Boulevard West (exit #146) will also be closed
• Lake Shore Boulevard East (eastbound lanes only) from Coxwell Avenue to just south of Woodbine Avenue (Kew Beach Avenue)
• Bayview Avenue from Mill Street to Rosedale Valley Road, and River Street from Gerrard Street East to Bayview Avenue.

The City will actively manage traffic during these closures through signal timing adjustments on adjacent routes, as well as roadway signage to alert drivers. Motorists who normally travel these roads on weekends should plan alternate routes. Those expecting to use the major road closures to cycle, run or walk should access them by bike or as a pedestrian, since nearby parking is limited and site parking is not provided.

When finalizing ActiveTO major road closures, special consideration is given to traffic impacts of planned construction, such as the work happening this weekend at Lake Shore Boulevard East and Lower Jarvis Street, and the annual spring maintenance closure of the Gardiner Expressway planned for the following weekend.

Major road closures are installed adjacent to City trails to make space for people, alleviate weekend and holiday crowding, and ensure there is room to be physically active and support physical distancing. These closures will happen on a trial basis and staff will monitor nearby routes and adjust the closures as necessary.

Along with the major road closures, ActiveTO includes a plan for 57 kilometres of Quiet Streets across the city.

Work on installing and planning Quiet Streets on neighbourhood roads is continuing. Quiet Streets are neighbourhood streets where traffic calming measures, such as signage and temporary barricades, are placed at intersections to encourage slow, local vehicle access only so that the roadway can be a shared space that also welcomes people who walk, run and bike. Parking and drop off areas are not impacted, and City services, such as waste collection and emergency access, continue as normal.

The ActiveTO program was developed by Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services to provide more space for people to be physically active and improve physical distancing as part of the City’s restart and recovery in the wake of COVID-19. At the April 30 Council meeting, staff were requested to look at more active transportation as a crucial part of the restart and recovery and in anticipation of changes in traffic patterns in the coming weeks and months.

While the City of Toronto remains focused on fighting COVID-19 and continuing to provide the essential and critical services that residents and businesses rely on, the City is also looking ahead to the restart and recovery period.

Work and planning continue on cycling network expansion and Council-approved cycling project acceleration. Details on this as part of ActiveTO will be provided in the coming weeks.

More information and details about ActiveTO are available at toronto.ca/activeTO

A Message from Gord – May 14, 2020

Posted on May 14, 2020

The City launched ShopHERE, a program to help Toronto independent businesses and artists open a free online store to minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The online store will be built and launched for free in just a matter of days. Hands-on support will be provided throughout the entire process from volunteer website developers and marketing and business students.

Toronto independent businesses and artists can sign up for their free online store at digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere.

For those who are home and looking for new challenges, the new City of Toronto Stay, Play and Learn At Home webpage, has a list of free virtual programming and activities to help residents stay active, stay engaged, have fun and learn new things while practicing physical distancing or self-isolating at home. This includes dance, fitness, art activities, science, book clubs, live music, museum tours and so much more. There’s something in the listing for every age group. It includes links to virtual programs from EarlyON centres for children, as well as from Seniors Active Living Centres.

This past week, the Province announced funding for childcare centres to cover their fixed operating costs and waiving licencing application and renewal fees. While the City is supportive of the Provincial and the Federal government subsidies and benefits to small businesses and individuals, there has been no direct funding for municipalities.

Due to the pandemic, the City is losing $65 million a week in revenue and facing financial uncertainty. Years of tax cuts on the provincial and federal levels have been paid for by downloading services onto municipalities and made municipalities reliant on user fees. It’s the collapse of user-fee revenue that is will cause the collapse of municipally delivered services.

Community stakeholders, activists, governments and academics have been putting their mind to how we protect and grow our municipally delivered services to lead our City into a robust recovery.

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

Gord

Updates from Toronto Building and City Planning

Posted on May 14, 2020

Permits:
As of this week, all Toronto Building permitting and inspection services are being offered. Some of the services are modified with new applications being accepted electronically only and in-person inspection protocols have been established to ensure health and safety. Some staff have been reassigned to permitting in order to improve response times to permit requests. At this time, staff are focusing their efforts on permits that were received prior to the service disruption. As of April 29, 92 per cent of all active building applications received prior to the service disruption have been reviewed and processed, meaning the permits have been issued; are pending issuance; or a deficiency notice has been issued. New building permit applications are being accepted

Committee of Adjustment:
After clearing a number of regulatory, logistic and technology hurdles, the Committee of Adjustment has scheduled its first hearing on June 3 with subsequent hearings now being pre-booked to July 31. The meetings will be held virtually. Notices will start being sent to applicants for the first hearing next week. Initial meetings will have no more than 20 items on the agenda. Initially, staff will triage and schedule minor variance applications based on a ‘first come, first served’ principle (based on those received by March 16), and files that are ready now. We will be starting with less complex cases and where the applicants have agreed to the virtual format. Given the current backlog created by the scale back of all non-essential services and the limited capacity in which we are able to move forward, we anticipate managing the backlog well into the year.

Below are the status of a list of services:

Next Steps
Staff are continuing to evaluate the processes and abilities to move forward with full service resumption including the acceptance of new Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments Draft Plan of Subdivision.
Throughout the course of the pandemic and as we move into recovery, the City is committed to continuing to work with the development industry to ensure service delivery is maintained and in fact service transformation is accelerated. Very soon staff will be providing additional information on the next steps in how this transformation of the development review process is advancing.

For more information, please contact:
Gregg Lintern (Gregg.Lintern@toronto.ca), Chief Planner & Executive Director, City Planning
Will Johnston (Will.Johnston@toronto.ca), Chief Building Official & Executive Director, Toronto Building
Or visit the City’s website on affected services

PARC fundraiser for Parkdale Solidarity Fund: Mutual Aid Parkdale

Posted on May 14, 2020

Mutual Aid Parkdale is a neighbourhood group organized on the core principle of practicing solidarity in times of crisis. In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been safely reaching out to hundreds of neighbours and checking in on them to see what material and social support they need by sharing what they have, purchasing and delivering food and medicine, and providing emotional and mental health support. They are building trust, care, and commitment with zero judgement. To support this effort, they have set up an online donation portal for their Solidarity Fund which will help them purchase basic necessities for the community. Learn more about their story here.

Support Local Businesses

Posted on May 14, 2020

Small businesses are especially affected during this pandemic. That is why we encourage you to shop local, from small independent businesses. As curbside pick up becomes available for many retail stores, please continue to follow Public Health advice and maintain physical distancing.

Click below on individual BIAs for updates on businesses in their area.

The Junction BIA    Baby Point Gates BIA      Bloor West Village BIA

Parkdale Village BIA         Roncesvalles Village BIA         Bloor by the Park BIA

 

 

Housing and Shelter Resources – Rent Bank & FMTA Housing Workshops

Posted on May 13, 2020

This weekend, Federation of Metro Tenant Association (FMTA) is leading housing workshops: To receive invitations to join them, you’ll need to register by emailing the FMTA at: totenantschool@torontotenants.org

    1. TCHC TENANTS AND COVID-19 (Saturday May 16)
    2. ORGANIZING FOR CHANGE: BUILDING TENANT POWER DURING AND AFTER COVID-19 (Sunday May 17)

If you are behind on rent or need help paying first and last month, access the City funded Rent Bank Program which provides free loans to eligible tenants in Toronto. For more information, please call 416-397-7368 from Monday to Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or visit http://www.torontorentbank.ca/

Rent Bank Flyer (May 2020)

 

Message from Gord – May 7, 2020

Posted on May 7, 2020

Dear Ward 4 residents,

This week is Mental Health Week. As this is a particularly challenging time for many of us, I would like to remind you that if you or someone you know needs help, mental health support and resources are available by calling 211 or visiting http://211toronto.ca.

As per the Province’s amendments to an Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, community gardens will begin to open this week on a location-by-location basis and allotment gardens will begin to open during the week of May. This will coincide with the resumption of regular yard waste collection. By fully resuming this seasonal collection, gardening and outdoor work will be further enabled. I hope this encourages residents to continue to stay home.

Earlier this week, the Province announced reopening of certain businesses as long as they comply with strict public health measures and open safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. As of Friday all nurseries and garden centres can open and on Saturday hardware stores can fully open. All retail stores with a street entrance can reopen for curb side pickup on Monday. For the latest information, please read the Government of Ontario’s list of essential businesses. Ontario businesses who have questions about the emergency order can call the Province’s toll-free line: 1-888-444-3659.

In addition to loosening restrictions on retail store, the Province is also allowing below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue. I will share more information on the City’s response as it becomes available.

The City announced the new ActiveTO program being developed by Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services to provide more space for people walking and cycling as well as transit riders to allow for better physical distancing as part of the city’s restart and recovery. ActiveTO initiatives include expanding the Cycling Network Plan and creating “Quiet Streets” enabling local car traffic only.

It is critical to our response that people who are homeless and who are ill with COVID-19 have a safe space to recover outside of the shelter system to prevent the spread of infection. As part of City of Toronto’s comprehensive three tier response to COVID-19 for people experiencing homelessness, a second recovery program will open this week and enhanced PPE measures will be in place across the shelter system. The new site has a capacity for up to 250 individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

For accurate, up-to-date information on COVID-19, continue visiting toronto.ca/covid-19.

Gord

Revised due to date for City of Toronto property tax and utility bills

Posted on May 6, 2020

The 60-day grace period for property tax, utility bill payments and late penalties extended by the City during the COVID-19 response ends on May 15. There are important changes to instalment amounts and due dates for customers on all payment schedules. All customers will receive a mailed notification of their revised interim bill due dates. Final tax bills will be mailed in mid-May as usual.

Property taxes for the remainder of 2020 will be due on the following dates:
• Two-instalment plan: August 4
• Six-instalment plan: June 1, July 2, August 4, September 1 and October 1
• Eleven-instalment plan: June 15, July 15, August 17, September 15, October 15, November 16 and December 15.

Customers on the 11-instalment plan will have their original May and June interim instalment amounts combined with the final billing and spread evenly over July through December payments.

Customers who are already enrolled in the City’s pre-authorized payment plan don’t have to re-enroll – payments will start again automatically on the new due date. Customers who have sent the City post-dated cheques do not need to re-send cheques for the revised due dates, as any cheques previously submitted will be processed on the new due dates. Any cheques received after April 1, 2020 will be cashed according to the date on the cheque.

Those who pay their taxes via their mortgage payment should contact their mortgage company or financial institution to understand how this grace period will affect their mortgage amount and/or mortgage payment schedule.

Customers who paid their property tax and utility bills during this time will see any payments made reflected on their account. Property owners can access their property tax account details by using the online Property Tax Lookup tool available at toronto.ca/services-payments/property-taxes-utilities/property-tax.

For utility bill customers, due dates appearing on utility bills have been automatically adjusted to reflect the 60-day grace period.

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