Supporting ‘A Path Forward’ recommendations on encampments

Posted on July 23, 2021

I am appalled at the actions of clearing encampments and the escalated violence that has taken place during those actions over the last few weeks, including yesterday at Lamport.

The City of Toronto has a responsibility to support the needs of everyone in our city, especially our most vulnerable residents. We have a duty to ensure that everyone has access to safe shelter and permanent supportive housing. Encampments are not a safe housing solution. The structures are unsafe. Living outdoors for extended periods is not a path to good health.

How we approach the efforts to house individuals in encampments is crucial.

I have signed on to a letter addressed to Mayor Tory that calls for the immediate adoption of the Path Forward recommendations endorsed by over 207 individuals and organizations calling on a Human Rights approach towards Encampment residents.

We must focus our efforts on connecting people with spaces where they have the health supports and amenities they need.

Gord

Open Letter to Mayor Tory – Ending Police Enforcement of Encampment Clearings

Posted on July 23, 2021

Friday, July 23, 2021

Dear Mayor Tory,

We believe the Moss Park encampment will be moved and acted upon in the weeks ahead. This clearing comes on the heels of two days of escalating tensions between Toronto Police, encampment residents, and their supporters.

In advance of this imminent clearing, we demand an end to the violence and extreme show of force. There is absolutely no need for batons, pepper spray or even guns, not when the work should be done by the City’s Streets to Home staff and other outreach workers. 

We call upon you to immediately adopt the Path Forward recommendations contained in the open letter submitted to you on July 9. It was endorsed by over 207 organizations and individuals calling for a human rights approach in resolving the conflicts that are emerging out of the encampments.

We are also disturbed to hear from members of the media that they were obstructed from reporting on these actions. Any suppression of the press and their right to access the events directly and in-person is undemocratic and unconstitutional.

We all want the same outcomes – an end to homelessness and safe housing for everyone. The escalating tension and police violence run completely counter to that outcome.

Mayor Tory, your approach to encampments does not effectively resolve the challenge we face, as you are only moving people experiencing homelessness from the parks to laneways, under bridges or into another park. Absolutely no one voted for this extreme show of force that keeps happening under your authority.

We all recognize that a tent will never be a suitable replacement for a home but an alternative approach must be taken, as we can not accept more violence and conflict.

We are asking you to work with us to build a City that we can truly be proud of. Before it’s too late, we desperately urge you to adopt a nonviolent approach to ending the encampments.

 

Sincerely,

Councillor Carroll

Councillor Layton

Councillor Matlow

Councillor Perks

Councillor Wong-Tam

Dogs in The City Campaign

Posted on July 22, 2021

Keeping dogs on leash and enjoying the outdoors safely

With more people outdoors enjoying Toronto during summer, the City has launched a public education campaign to remind residents about responsible dog ownership. From July 26, online and social media ads will run to remind residents that they need to:

  • Keep dogs leashed in public, unless in designated dogs off-leash areas:  Dogs must be kept on a leash no more than two metres long.
  • Stoop and scoop: Residents need to pick up after their dog and put dog waste in a Green Bin. The City has Green Bins for organic waste in all dog off-leash areas in parks, other select locations in parks and a few street litter bins that accept dog waste across the city.
  • Respect the natural environment: Dog owners should respect the natural environment in parks and trails. Dogs should be allowed off-leash only in dogs off-leash areas so that they don’t trample plants or chase wildlife.

More information is available at toronto.ca/DogsInTheCity

Update on Dundas Renaming

Posted on July 13, 2021

A City of Toronto staff report on the renaming of Dundas Street and other civic assets with the Dundas name went before Executive Committee on July 6th. The report was approved at Executive Committee and will be reviewed at Council Meeting on July 14th.

The report outlines a renaming process along with a Community Advisory Committee of Black and Indigenous leaders and local Dundas Street residents and businesses.

The report recommends that the Community Advisory Committee gather naming suggestions from their communities as part of a commitment to healing and recommending new names for Dundas Street and other civic assets for consideration by City Council next year.

It provides an assessment of the cost for the City and its agencies and outlines a community engagement strategy and change management process to fulfill the renaming process.

The new commemorative framework, to be presented to Council in 2022, will help guide the City’s decision-making on implications for reviewing existing assets including a number of streets in Ward 4. I will keep you updated as this work progresses.

You can review the Staff Report at  https://www.toronto.ca/news/city-of-toronto-staff-report-recommends-renaming-of-dundas-street/

I will be supporting staffs’ recommendations and will continue to support the work of the Recognition Review Group.

My office will continue to provide updates as this work continues.

Toronto Council should approve rooming house proposal

Posted on July 8, 2021

This piece can also be found on the toronto.com website.

Toronto city council is about to consider a proposal to create new rules for rooming houses which will make them legal across the city, subject to a licensing system that will set safety standards and annual inspections. It is the culmination of decades of work. It has also generated fierce and often ugly opposition.

Thousands of Torontonians, nobody really knows how many, live in unsafe illegal rooming houses. While there is a large demand for inexpensive rooms in houses, it is illegal to rent out such rooms in many parts of the city, such as Scarborough, North York and much of Etobicoke. Some house owners in these areas convert them to rooming houses anyway and often tell tenants not to let city inspectors in and not complain about substandard conditions or they will be evicted.

The consequences are awful. Because inspectors cannot check the plumbing, electrical or fire safety systems, they are often terrible and unsafe places to live. In the last 10 years, 14 people have died in fires in illegal rooming houses.

In our system of laws, city inspectors cannot simply knock on your door and demand entry. This is for good reasons. However, governments can put inspection conditions on properly registered or licensed rental properties.

The problem is making rooming houses illegal when there is a demand for them (and there certainly is a demand in Toronto); they will still be created, but they will be underground and unsafe.

There have been rooming houses as long as there have been houses. There has always been opposition too. Although few will say so, rooming houses are opposed because they bring “undesirable” people into a given neighbourhood. These are people with very low incomes: students, newcomers, or people on disability or social support. There is no justifiable legal or moral argument to say that people with low incomes cannot live in a given neighbourhood.

What people will say is the unscrupulous landlords who built the illegal rooming houses will never do the work to make them safe and legal. This is demonstrably untrue. When I was first elected, there were 30 odd illegal rooming houses in Parkdale. The city had established incentives for landlords to become legal: a mix of carrots and sticks. In two years, all but one of them got licensed. The city helped the tenants in that case get new units nearby at the same rent. It wasn’t easy. Some neighbours opposed legalizing them. Interestingly, years later, many of those same people have become friends and advocates for the tenants. They show up at hearings on licence renewals and advocated for better conditions for the tenants.

The status quo is intolerable. We have a dire shortage of safe affordable housing. People live in fear, in squalid conditions which all too often result in the loss of life. There is a path that creates safe legal affordable housing and stronger neighbourhoods. Council has a duty to approve the plan to legalize rooming houses everywhere in the city.

High Park Movement Strategy – Online Survey

Posted on July 7, 2021

The City of Toronto is launching a study called the High Park Movement Strategy to improve the travel network for High Park and better serve park users and the community. The goal of the study is to improve the travel network to better serve park users and the surrounding community, prioritizing safety and accessibility while preserving the park’s ecological integrity. The study will consider the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and other users in the park when it comes to mobility.

The study is in early stages and will be underway by the fall 2021. Over the summer, the City will be retaining a consultant team to support the study, finalizing a work plan, collecting data and conducting background analysis. The study is expected to be complete by summer 2022 with implementation of the preferred solution in 2023.

We are pleased to share with you the High Park Movement Strategy survey: https://s.cotsurvey.chkmkt.com/?e=233567&h=33D6B15564BE93F&l=en

This short 10 to 15 minute survey will ask about your typical park visits prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and about your experiences visiting the park over the past year. It will also ask for your feedback on the current weekend road closures and your thoughts on longer-term changes to the travel network serving High Park.  The survey will remain open throughout the summer.

The survey will be followed by a community consultation in the fall. My office will be sure to share more information on this as details are confirmed.

ActiveTO Lake Shore West Update

Posted on June 30, 2021

Today the City is announcing a schedule of full and partial closures of Lakeshore West as part of our ActiveTO program. Many of us had wanted this to happen sooner. Because we are reconstructing the intersection of King/Queen/Queensway/Roncesvalles (KQQR) there was a possibility that closing Lakeshore at the same time would create serious problems. There were three issues I was particularly concerned about. First, we needed to be sure we could maintain ambulance access to St. Joseph’s hospital. Second, I wanted to be sure that the TTC service on King, Queen, and the Queensway could still function, and third we needed to be sure we didn’t create complete gridlock for people in the area around the construction zone.

City staff have completed a study on the impacts of the construction work on these issues and have given the go ahead for the Lakeshore West ActiveTO closures. This is great news. Last year an average of 22,000 people were walking, running, and cycling each day during the Lake Shore closure West. I’m thrilled we are able to offer it again.

You can find more information about the construction work here:
https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/get-involved/public-consultations/infrastructure-projects/king-queen-queensway-roncesvalles-construction/

You can find more information on closures of Lake Shore West during the month of July here:

https://www.toronto.ca/news/activeto-july-weekend-schedule-announced-new-data-supports-city-of-toronto-approach-to-weekend-road-closures/

Also we are working on two transformative projects in the Ward that might be of interest.

High Park Movement Strategy 

The City of Toronto is preparing to launch a study to both improve the travel network for High Park and better serve park users and the surrounding community.

As you know, we’ve opened High Park to pedestrians and cyclists. The recent road closures to motorists in High Park have provided users with additional space to physically distance. The community has responded positively to these changes. There will be a survey that will be released shortly, along with public consultations in the fall. Please stay tuned for more information.

Western Waterfront Master Plan

The Western Waterfront Master Plan (WWMP) was approved by City Council and is being used to guide future decisions related to improvements to the public realm within the Western Waterfront over the next twenty years and beyond. The Master Plan provides an overall vision for improving parkland, beaches, break walls, trails, promenades, roads, bridges, servicing and recreational facilities within the Western Waterfront. The Plan applies to the waterfront area between the Humber River and Exhibition Place and includes Sunnyside Beach and Marilyn Bell Park.

Concept plan for the Western Waterfront Master Plan:
(http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2009/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-21523.pdf)

 

Update on renaming of Dundas Street

Posted on June 30, 2021

A City of Toronto staff report going before Executive Committee on July 6 recommends a renaming of Dundas Street and other civic assets with the Dundas name. If approved by Executive Committee, the report will then be reviewed by City Council at its July meeting.

A petition calling for the renaming of Dundas Street was created in June 2020 following global discussions on racial injustices, inequality and anti-Black racism, which led the public to scrutinize the origins and history of monuments, street names, parks and buildings across Toronto. The petition objected to the street’s namesake, Scottish politician Henry Dundas, who was involved in delaying the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, causing more than half a million Black people to be enslaved in the British Empire.

The recommendation to rename Dundas Street and other civic assets bearing the same name follows discovery sessions, extensive academic research and a review of over 400 global case studies, and furthers the City’s commitment to anti-Black racism, Indigenous truth and reconciliation, as well as building a more inclusive and equitable Toronto.

In addition to the Dundas Street renaming, the report outlines guiding principles for the City’s overall framework on commemorative policies and programs following a Recognition Review examining how systemic racism and discrimination may be embedded in City assets, commemorative programs and naming policies.

The report outlines a renaming process along with a Community Advisory Committee of Black and Indigenous leaders and local Dundas Street residents and businesses. Pending approval by Executive Committee and City Council, the Community Advisory Committee will gather naming suggestions from their communities as part of a commitment to healing and recommending new names for Dundas Street and other civic assets for consideration by City Council next year. The report provides an assessment of the cost for the City and its agencies and outlines a community engagement strategy and change management process to fulfill the renaming process. A transition plan would be developed to support Dundas Street residents and businesses in preparation for the name change.

Recommendations were developed by a City staff working group which was formed following a request by Mayor John Tory to City Manager Chris Murray. The working group includes representatives from City divisions, the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and Indigenous Affairs Office.

More information is available at www.toronto.ca/recognition-review; the report can be viewed at

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2021.EX25.1.

Members of the public who wish to make their views known about this matter, submit comments or request to speak before a committee of City Council, can visit www.toronto.ca/legdocs/tmmis/have-your-say.htm .

Free drop-in outdoor programs for children and youth in Toronto

Posted on June 30, 2021

ParksPlayTO and Summer in the 6IX will return this summer to engage Toronto youth, children and their families at parks and outdoor spaces across the City for a second summer.

Beginning Monday, July 5, ParksPlayTO will offer free drop-in and activity-based, recreation programming Monday to Friday at 74 locations. ParksPlayTO will offer activities such as exploring nature, gardening, active games, arts and crafts, family fitness, story-telling and music circles for children and their caregivers. Children age 12 and under will be welcomed to ParksPlayTO Adult caregivers are required to accompany all program participants. ParksPlayTO will run morning and afternoon sessions, with 25 spots available at each site at a time. Programming will run for eight weeks from July 5 to August 27.

Summer in the 6IX, which will also begin on Monday July 5, is a free program designed for Toronto youth, aged 13 to 24, offering opportunities to drop in, meet up with friends and participate in themed activities. Programming includes dance, fitness, and sports, as well as leadership, employment, arts and media. The program, which will be offered for nine weeks from July 5 until September 3 (Monday to Friday), is available to all Toronto youth at parks across the City.

Health guidelines for both programs were developed in consultation with Toronto Public Health and are aligned to provincial guidelines, including program capacities, physical distancing, adequate cleaning, mask wearing, signage, daily health checks and screening.

ParksPlayTO and Summer in the 6IX are free drop-in programs and registration is not required. People can head to the location where activities are scheduled to secure a spot on-site.

The City will also offer adapted and inclusive outdoor programming at 20 outdoor spaces near community centres with washroom access throughout the summer. These programs are open for children aged four to 12 and youth aged 13 to 29 who are living with a disability. Programs include an adapted walking program for children, arts, science and adapted movement in the park. Read more information about adapted and inclusive outdoor programming and register online, call 416-395-6128 or email aiscw@toronto.ca.

Check ParksPlayTO and Summer in the 6IX for more information.

City’s outdoor pools will begin to open this weekend

Posted on June 10, 2021

Ten City of Toronto outdoor pools will open early on Saturday, June 12, as the City moves into Step One of the Province of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen. An online reservation system will allow Toronto residents to reserve 45-minute swim sessions in advance. Reservations can be made beginning 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 10.

The 10 outdoor pools that will open on June 12 are:

  • Alex Duff – 779 Crawford St.
  • Monarch Park Pool – 115 Felstead Ave.
  • Heron Park CC – 292 Manse Rd.
  • Grandravine CC – 23 Grandravine Dr.
  • McGregor CC – 2231 Lawrence Ave. E.
  • Parkway Forest CC – 59 Forest Manor Rd.
  • Pine Point – 15 Grierson Rd.
  • Riverdale Park – 550 Broadview Ave.
  • Sunnyside-Gus Ryder – 1755 Lake Shore Blvd. W.
  • West Mall – 380 The West Mall

These locations will remain open until and including Labour Day, Monday, September 6, and will close for the season at 5 p.m. on that day. The remaining outdoor pools will open for the season on June 19, go to full hours when school is out on June 30, and remain open until Sunday, September 5.

Around 1,950 people – mostly young people – will be working to keep our outdoor pools running throughout the summer.

The City’s wading pools will operate from Wednesday, June 30 to Sunday, September 5. Hours of operation and swim times vary by location and can be reviewed online

Reservations for 45-minute outdoor swim sessions must be made in advance online . Through the system residents can:

  • Log in using existing family and client numbers
  • Create an account online for themselves and members of their family (first- time users)
  • Book leisure swims and lane swims up to one week in advance, one activity per day, per person
  • Cancel a reservation up to one day before the activity is scheduled. Same day cancellations can be made by calling 416-396-7378 and selecting option 1

Blocks of new swim reservation spots are released Thursdays at 8 a.m. for the following Monday to Sunday. A select number of spaces at each outdoor pool location will be held back to ensure swimming remains accessible to people with limited access to the internet. These spaces are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Like last summer, the capacity at outdoor pools will be reduced to 25 per cent to ensure adequate space for physical distancing. Staff have worked closely with Toronto Public Health (TPH) to meet guidelines to ensure people can swim safely at outdoor pools. Patrons visiting the City’s outdoor pools will be required to sign in and provide their first name and an email or phone number to facilitate TPH contact tracing should it be required.

Supervision and/or swimming ability requirements are in place for children under 10 years of age at all City outdoor pools. Leisure swimming is free for all ages. Outdoor lane swim is also free and is open to swimmers seven years and older for swimming continuous lengths or widths. Caregivers are reminded to supervise children at all times.

The City began opening its splash pads on May 22, following changes to the Province’s orders allowing select outdoor recreation amenities to operate. Splash pad locations across Toronto will remain open until Sunday, September 19.

While the City’s beaches have remained open for essential exercise, lifeguards were stationed at the City’s designated swimming beaches starting on June 5 to supervise swimming zones. Lifeguard supervision of the swim zones at the City’s designated swimming beaches will wrap up on September 12.

More information on about swimming in the city is available here

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