Tomorrow, City Council will virtually meet for the second time since COVID-19 was declared a state of emergency in Toronto.
Today, Mayor Tory announced that the City is proposing to fast-track the implementation of 40 kilometres of cycling infrastructure, city-wide across Toronto. I am proud to endorse this plan, and looking forward to its accelerated installation! What COVID-19 has shown us is that we need to rethink our priorities around how we design public infrastructure to support long-term recovery. We have known for years that an expanded, city-wide grid of protected bike lanes is important for achieving positive environmental, safety and health outcomes. The global pandemic has provided the urgent public health context needed to drive this work forward, without further excuses or political delays.
As we head into another weekend—and as it looks like we are finally getting a stretch of good weather—I want to continue to urge you to use caution when moving about, and to stay home as much as possible.
While the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario continue to loosen restrictions on some activities, we must not forget that COVID-19 continues to spread in our city.
COVID-19 has taught us many things since it effectively shut down our economy this past March. We have a greater understanding of the need to equitably distribute space on our roads. We are consistently reminded how critical workers who grow, sell and distribute our food and provide essential services are. We have seen why we must continue to invest in our public health system and our social safety net. Critically, it has also shown us how quickly circumstances beyond our control can leave us unable to pay rent or for food. In the initial weeks of the shutdown, it exposed how many people were living paycheck to paycheck.
I have been hearing a new term lately—quarantine fatigue— and it feels pretty apt for what I know many people are feeling. I have to say it seems like a completely reasonable response in the context of so much change and uncertainty. In addition to the economic hardship it causes, isolation can severely damage psychological well-being, especially for people who were already depressed or anxious before the crisis started. Loosening restrictions isn’t just about restarting our economy, it is an acknowledgement that we need human contact and connection for our health.