Daily Migration Virtual Art Workshops: Call for Participation

Posted on June 4, 2020

The STEPS Initiative and visual artist Shalak Attack invite you to apply to be part of a unique virtual workshop series that explores the stories and experiences of newcomers in the Parkdale neighbourhood  of Toronto. Up to 20 Participants will have the opportunity to work directly with Shalak Attack, while connecting with others and developing art techniques in watercolour, collage and mixed media approaches. The workshops will culminate with each participant creating a final artwork that will be presented as part of a Daily Migration exhibition in August. Deadline to apply is June 12, 4pm ET.

The applications is available here!

STEPS Daily Migration Virtual Art Workshops_ Call for Participation

ActiveTO road closures this weekend

Posted on June 4, 2020

The City will close sections of three major roads this weekend, in total making more than 10 kilometres of roadway available for walking, running and biking, as part of ActiveTO. This weekend, the closure on Lake Shore Boulevard West will return and the Lake Shore Boulevard East closure will be extended east to Leslie Street.

ActiveTO provides residents with more space to physically distance while getting exercise outdoors, which helps stop the spread of COVID-19.

The following three major road closures are planned this weekend from Saturday, June 6 at 6 a.m. until Sunday, June 7 at 11 p.m.:

  • Lake Shore Boulevard West (eastbound lanes only) from Windermere Avenue to Stadium Road. As a result, 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 Leslie Street 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.

Vehicle access on these sections of major roads will be closed to provide people with greater space for walking, running and biking. 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 walk, run or cycle should access them as a pedestrian or by bike, since nearby parking is limited and site parking is not provided.

These major road closures have been planned adjacent to City trails to make more 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 installation of Quiet Streets across the city. To date, a total of 50 kilometres of Quiet Street routes have been installed in 24 spots across the city, with more routes planned.

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.

Toronto City Council has also approved the ActiveTO cycling network plan. This is the largest expansion of Toronto’s on-street bike network ever in one year and will include about 40 kilometres of new cycling routes for 2020. The cycling network will be expanded quickly through temporary installations by repurposing curb lanes along several key corridors. The first temporary bikeway is expected to be in place soon.

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.

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

The CurbTO program continues to roll out to immediately address locations where there is sidewalk crowding and temporary parking concerns around businesses. More businesses are permitted to offer pick-up, take-out and delivery services and have created store access line-ups to maintain physical distancing requirements, as recommended by Toronto Public Health.

Details about CurbTO, including a new map, as well as links to the business application are at http://www.toronto.ca/curbTO

 

City working with large downtown employers to extend working from home efforts

Posted on June 4, 2020

City of Toronto and a number of the city’s other major downtown employers, as well as Toronto’s post-secondary institutions, will continue to support employees, where possible, to work from home until September at the earliest.

This effort is part of the work the City is doing to keep pressure off the TTC and Metrolinx as we move into the restart and recovery period, along with the ActiveTO plan to build up Toronto’s bike network and the strong recommendation for all people who travel on transit to wear a mask.

Telecommuting, and a commitment to phasing-in the return of employees to work and staggering start times where possible, will help businesses maintain physical distancing and reduce pressure on public transit as more businesses resume operations. The City of Toronto, as a major downtown employer, will also continue to prioritize working remotely and will encourage all staff who are able to continue to work from home as the city continues to deal with COVID-19.

The new Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild (TORR) has been reaching out to finance and insurance companies, universities and colleges, and other large employers to request that they return employees to the workplace in a safe and gradual way while adhering to public health guidelines. Finance and insurance employees account for approximately 12 per cent of all public transit commuters in Toronto – more than 57,000 use transit as their main mode of commuting. Over half of students at Toronto’s universities and colleges also commute by transit including to downtown campuses.

The City has received commitments from several major employers to support a gradual and proactive approach to reopening and to help the City work safely towards recovery and rebuilding:

  • Bank of Montreal
  • Canada Life
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • Centennial College
  • Deloitte Canada
  • EY Canada
  • George Brown College
  • Humber College
  • KPMG Canada
  • Manulife
  • National Bank
  • OCAD University
  • PwC Canada
  • Rogers Communications
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Ryerson University
  • Scotiabank
  • Seneca College
  • Sun Life Financial
  • TD Bank
  • University of Toronto
  • Yamana Gold Inc.
  • York University
  • Zurich Canada

The City is encouraging all large employers to adopt similar measures and to work with their facilities management to assess floor layouts and access to workplaces (such as use of elevators), determine how to safely meet with customers, adjust work shifts and business hours and review practices and procedures being implemented by other employers.

 

My comments at Council on the Housing Now Initiative – May 28, 2020

Posted on May 28, 2020

Today, Toronto City Council approved the second phase of Housing Now. Here are my comments on the importance of socially owned housing.

 

 

TTC Safety Measures

Posted on May 28, 2020

The document below is an overview of measures TTC continues to take to keep riders safe and well informed.

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

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.

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.

City of Toronto expands Digital Main Street program to help local businesses during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted on April 16, 2020

Digital Main Street was created by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) in 2016 to assist main street businesses in growing their operations through technology with easy to use tools and resources.

Since its launch, the Digital Main Street program has engaged more than 6,000 Toronto businesses and provided direct one-on-one support to 2,159 businesses, delivering more than 9,200 hours of support, training and education. Prior to working with the Digital Main Street program, 30 per cent of businesses had no online presence. These businesses now do and an additional 66 per cent of businesses expanded their existing online presence.

The expansion of the Digital Main Street program is a part of the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force’s short-term economic support and recovery plan for Toronto’s businesses.

Local businesses can complete the Digital Main Street onboarding process and receive a free Digital Assessment and recommended to-do list at https://digitalmainstreet.ca/toronto/

July 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Archives