This has been another full week of news about the Greenbelt and this government’s corrupt handover of billions of dollars to their favoured developers. In this newsletter, I will continue to keep you updated on this scandal as it develops.
We are also in the thick of festival season in Toronto Centre! Keep reading for details about The 519’s Back to School Bash, Freedom Fest, Summer Chill Fest, the St James Town Festival, and the Cabbagetown Festival!
Greenbelt Update - The Rot Starts at the Top with Minister Steve Clark
Doug Ford’s backroom Greenbelt deals are starting to rot from the inside out. Two of the Housing and Municipal Affairs Minister’s staffers have resigned and just this morning the government backtracked on the removal of one large parcel of Greenbelt land in Caledon. This is a huge victory! And it’s a reminder that our pressure on the government is working - we have to keep it up! Please continue to email the Minister, share information, and get involved with local groups fighting for our greenbelt. Minister Clark needs to resign in disgrace over this colossal scandal.
I also want to echo what our leader Marit Stiles had to say about Minister Clark’s Chief of Staff’s resignation:
“This is the bare minimum of accountability for one of the most serious breaches of public trust in Ontario’s history. The Auditor General’s report was very clear—this staffer obviously didn’t act independently.
Now it’s time that the Minister take responsibility, do the right thing, and step down; time that the government recall the Legislature so we can restore these lands to the Greenbelt for protection; and time for the Conservatives to start providing Ontarians with the transparency and accountability they deserve.
Mr. Ford needs to face the music.”
I also join my colleague Catherine Fife in calling for the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts to prioritize the Auditor General’s Greenbelt report, so it is the first order of business when the Committee resumes.
The Ontario NDP will use every available legislative tool to get to the bottom of this scandal and end corruption at Queen’s Park. It is sickening but not shocking that Ford Conservatives continue to disregard due process, accountability, and transparency. Instead, they seem to be actively encouraging and perpetuating corruption to the tune of billions of dollars and thousands of hectares of priceless protected land.
MPP Fife’s letter to the committee cited precedents to prioritizing the Auditor General’s Special Reports, including those on the Liberal government’s Ornge and gas plants scandals.
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts can conduct public hearings, calling representatives from the government and the broader public sector, with the goal of providing analysis and recommendations to the Legislature.
The Official Opposition NDP has also formally requested that the Legislature be recalled immediately to return the lands to the Greenbelt for protection.
Marit at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario
Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles delivered a passionate speech to assembled delegates at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference on Monday. In that speech, she reiterated the ONDP’s commitment to supporting municipalities and being a partner to them in building housing.
I am proud to be part of a caucus that is proposing solutions that don’t involve giving massive incentives to developers over struggling Ontarians or making land speculators rich by ignoring the environment. Here are just some of the positive and expert-backed housing solutions that the ONDP has and will continue to put forward in the Legislature:
- Real rent control
- Building truly affordable housing (including non-profit, public, co-op, and supportive housing)
- Cracking down on land speculation
- Establishing inclusionary zoning to build homes within existing neighbourhoods, near transit, and other key infrastructure.
TVO Workers are On Strike!
I am proud to stand in solidarity with TVO workers who are on strike. They are fighting for wages that reflect the cost of living after years of wage freezes and caps. They are also fighting for permanent jobs, not precarious contracts, for the licensed teachers who deliver curriculum content on TVO. This content is part of TVO’s organizational mandate, but the Minister of Education has directed the organization to hire only contract workers for those positions. This is why collective bargaining and strikes are such important tools for workers. Together they can take on the big bosses and Ministers that one worker alone could not.
Emergency Top-Up to Toronto’s Housing Voucher Program
On Monday Mayor Olivia Chow announced that 1,350 more people in Toronto will be supported to pay for housing through $13.4M of new funding to the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) program, which supplies individuals and families in need with rent supplements. This one-time top-up funding consists of contributions from both the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario.
This infusion of emergency cash will help people experiencing homelessness, including asylum seekers, secure safe, permanent housing while they get back on their feet or establish themselves in the city for the first time. This will also relieve pressure on the shelter system, which is routinely over-capacity and not a permanent housing solution for anyone.
I am glad that the Provincial government came to the table at this critical moment and grateful to Mayor Chow for getting this deal done. It has been so disappointing to see the Federal government leave Toronto behind during this crisis.
Upcoming Community Events!
Virtual Small Business Forum
On Monday, August 28, from 4 PM to 5 PM, MPP Jessica Bell, MPP Chris Glover and I are hosting a virtual Small Business Forum with special guest Aaron Binder from Better Way Alliance.
We will be discussing:
- Implementing a standard commercial lease,
- Commercial rent control so there’s a cap on how much the rent can be raised between tenancies,
- Creating a dispute resolution mechanism like a Commercial Tenant Board.
You can RSVP for our Zoom forum here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. More information can be found here, and if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please email me at [email protected] or MPP Jessica Bell’s office at [email protected].
Volunteer with Kristyn’s Team
The St James Town and Cabbagetown Festivals are coming up. Both are held on the weekend of September 9 and 10 and Kristyn’s team will be setting up a community table at the two events.
These festivals are a great time to connect with the community, spread the word about important provincial issues, and enjoy a beautiful weekend with new friends.
Cabbagetown Festival - Volunteer with us!
We have shifts at 11am, 2pm, and 3:30pm on Saturday the 9th and Sunday the 10th. When can you join us?
St James Town Festival - Volunteer with us!
We have shifts at 2pm, and 4:30pm on Saturday the 9th. When can you join us?
The 519's Back-To-School Bash
Residents of Church-Wellesley, St. James Town, Regent Park and Moss Park are invited to The 519’s 7th Annual Back to School Bash. This free event is being held this Saturday, August 26, 11 AM - 4 PM at Barbara Hall Park.
Celebrate as we get set for the new school year with:
- delicious food, live DJ, and performances
- bouncy castle, games, and school photos
- haircuts for kids and youth
- backpacks with school supplies for kids and youth attending
- books for children attending
- children's catch-up vaccinations available on site
- dental cleaning
- educational pop-up stations
- interactive art installation, and much more!
Freedomfest presented by Freedom City Ministry
Freedom City Ministry presents their 9th Annual FreedomFest this Saturday August 26, 1 - 6 PM at the Greenspace behind 200 Wellesley Street East.
FREE food, music, clothes, essentials, household items, kids stuff, fun, festivities & community!
Adams Court Grand Opening
This Saturday is the new basketball court official dedication & revitalized green space opening at 325 and 375 Bleecker Street. Youth United Basketball League from the Wellesley Community Centre is hosting a FREE community BBQ, a 4on4 basketball tournament & back-to-school giveaways this Saturday August 26 from 2 - 4 PM.
Summer Chill Fest in the St Lawrence
This upcoming Sunday head to the St James Cathedral Lawn for an interfaith summer celebration hosted by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto.
Summer Chill will be held on Sunday, August 27, from 12 -2 PM, outside St. James’ Cathedral. This free, family-friendly event will combine fun activities for kids (including a free ice-cream truck and a visit from Santa on vacation!) with information on issues faced by people experiencing homelessness and the need for expanded respite capacity.
Regent Park Outdoor Fashion Show
Calling all fashion fans! Join your neighbours in a showcase of diverse one-of-a-kind pieces created by community members! The event will include music, snacks and the main show. Come celebrate the creativity of Regent Park!
This event will take place on Thursday, August 31st from 5-9pm in the Daniels Spectrum Courtyard (585 Dundas St E). RSVP here!
St James Town Festival
We love the annual St James Town Festival, a fun-filled community event that brings out all the neighbours. Head to the Greenspace behind 200 Wellesley St East to enjoy live performances, activities, and food vendors from 2-7 PM on Saturday, September 9. And don’t forget to stop by our MPP community table for spin-the-wheel prizes and popular swag giveaways!
The 44th Annual Cabbagetown Festival
The Cabbagetown Festival is back! I am excited that this treasured annual festival is coming back to Parliament Street. Come by on August 9 and 10 for live entertainment, food vendors, a kids zone, and showcases by local businesses and artisans. We’ll be there with our community table under the bright orange banner for the entire weekend with spin-the-wheel prizes and popular swag giveaway!
Learn more and sign up to volunteer with the Cabbagetown BIA here.
Downtown East Action Plan Survey
The Downtown East Action Plan provides a set of actions to coordinate City services and address complex challenges in Toronto’s Downtown East related to poverty, homelessness, community safety, mental health, substance use, and the drug poisoning crises.
I know many of you are deeply affected by these crises and it is important that the Action Plan is informed by your experiences and ideas. Fill out the survey and stay connected to the Action Plan’s work here.
Yours in community service,
MPP, Toronto Centre