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.

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

Message from Gord – June 4, 2020

Posted on June 4, 2020

On Tuesday I had my first virtual town hall. Thank you to everyone that tuned in and asked some important questions on how we recover together. I look forward to having more discussions in the near future and to hear your questions and concerns.

My office has also received your emails, calls and messages regarding the tragic death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, the conduct of the police and our police budget. Thank you for your advocacy on this. Please see my website for more detailed comments. We must continue to do, and demand, better.

For those that have been waiting for this service, I am happy to share that residents can start scheduling curbside pick-up of their reserved materials from Toronto Public Libraries starting June 8. Currently 70 branches across the City are also accepting return of materials through drop boxes. More details on the curbside services can be found online.

The City of Toronto will begin to open some of its approximately 200 parks washrooms this week across the city following the Province of Ontario’s amendments to an order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
The reopening will occur in two phases. The first phase will have roughly 50 washroom sites opening by June 6, followed by the remaining locations by mid-June.
In High Park, the Chess House & washroom (building #39) will be open. A list of locations washrooms and sanitation services are available on the City’s services webpage. Please read the guidelines on safely using public washrooms.
Due to COVID19 we will not be operating seasonal service on the 30 High Park route into High Park this year.

The City also announced a new quick-start program, CaféTO, that will make it easier for restaurant and bar owners to open patios, to expand them, and to access additional space for physical distancing and for that matter revenue generation during the summer months ahead. More information on this program will be available next week on toronto.ca/cafeto.

If you have any questions on any Ward 4 or City-related matters, please contact my office at councillor_perks@toronto.ca .

For the most updated information from the City, please visit toronto.ca/covid-19 .

Sincerely,

Gord

Join Progress Toronto in calling for a New Deal for Toronto

Posted on June 4, 2020

Progress Toronto has put together a petition urging the Federal and Provincial governments to provide immediate financial relief to cities and commit to a new deal, a new relationship, with our city to help us build a Toronto that works for everyone. https://www.progresstoronto.ca/petition-toronto-in-crisis

Just as so many Torontonians are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table, COVID-19 emergency spending alongside decades of under-funding has pushed City Hall to a financial breaking point and Mayor Tory is ringing the alarm.

If this isn’t solved quickly, the Mayor says he will have to make massive cuts and stop vital services. That means we will be facing increased fares, fees, and devastating losses to services like housing, transit, fire, community centres, libraries, and child care, right when we need these services most and possibly for the long term. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Take action and make your voice heard by signing this petition.

Message from Gord – May 28, 2020

Posted on May 28, 2020

Today, we held our second virtual City Council meeting where we voted to approve the installation of approximately 25 kilometres of new bikeways, along with the final approval and acceleration of 15-kilometres of cycling routes previously planned for this year, for a total of approximately 40 kilometres of on-street cycling lanes approved for accelerated installation in 2020.

Part of the approved project is the Bloor West Bikeway Extension which will extend the existing Bloor bike lanes westward from Shaw Street to Runnymede Road. This bike lane will also connect to the West End Rail Path and High Park. It is a great achievement for our City. Thank you to all the community members and advocates for your hard work in making this happen.

Starting Monday, June 1, drop boxes at all accessible Toronto Library branches will open to accept returns. Library members can continue to place holds online, through the TPL website at www.torontopubliclibrary.ca, and will then be able to pick up their materials through a curbside pick-up service which will be available in early June.

The reopening framework provided by the Province of Ontario and the advice of the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Toronto Medical Officer of Health, will be incorporated to ensure best practices within libraries as well as for the safe delivery of curbside service. The suspension of fines implemented when the pandemic began will continue until regular service resumes.

While the City works to ensure services and businesses are safely reopened, the transition has not and will not be easy. At this time, I urge you to continue following Public Health advice and practice physical distancing whenever possible to do so and wear a mask when unable to practice physical distancing.

For the most updated information from the City, visit www.toronto.ca/covid-19  .

Sincerely,

Gord

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

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

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

 

 

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

July 2020
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