October was a busy month and one that saw many of you meeting candidates running for Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre. It was great to see local Ward 13 priorities getting some national attention and I extend my congratulations to my colleague and friend, Bill Morneau, who returns to Ottawa as our area representative. There is a lot of work in Toronto Centre that needs intergovernmental cooperation and I look forward to working with my provincial and federal counterparts to get the results we need for our local communities.
At the last meeting of City Council I put forward a motion to ask the federal government for $900 million annually in new spending on supportive housing, mental health and addiction treatment services for the City of Toronto. While that is a large number, it is an accurate accounting of the community-based services missing for Toronto according to the mental health experts at the Canadian Mental Health Association. The federal investments are needed to adequately respond to addictions and mental health crises on our streets, in our overworked and under capacity health clinics and other important ancillary service providers. If Toronto is to turn the tide against the affordable housing, addictions and mental health-related challenges plaguing our city, we need the support and financial backing of our federal and provincial governments to help us chart a pathway to patient recovery and stabilization, and to provide the most basic level of housing to those with very little to nothing.
Residents from across Ward 13 know that these investments are needed and this was echoed on last Wednesday, October 30, at this year’s first of five Healthy Neighbourhoods meetings. Once again, your Ward 13 team and I are working hard to coordinate and identify service gaps with City staff, community agencies, Toronto Police and neighbours to get to the root of health and safety challenges in the downtown east and set new 2020 work plans to address them. Read on below to learn more, get involved and find out when and where our next meetings are being held.
If you found this e-newsletter informative, please share with your family, friends and neighbourhoods. Encourage them to sign up for monthly Ward 13 updates at www.kristynwongtam.ca. We always look forward to hearing from community members.
Yours in community service,
- Mental Health in Toronto: Call to Action
- Healthy Neighbourhood Forums
- Yonge TOmorrow: The Yonge Street Environmental Assessment
- "Ontario Line" Transit Update
- Traffic Signals at Bay Street and St. Mary Street
- Bay Cloverhill Community Association Annual General Meeting
- The Toronto Christmas Market Traffic Plan
- More Moss Park Update
- Update: Gerrard Street East and Pembroke Street
- Update: McGill Parkette
- Moss Park Upcoming Community Events
- Resourcing the Regent Park Social Development Plan
- Update: Regent Park, Phase 4 and 5
- Community Events: The 17th Annual Regent Park Film Festival
- Brighten Up your Night with New Lighting at the St. Lawrence Market!
- Community Spotlight: Gerstein’s Crisis Centre
- In the Community
- In the Media
- How to Report
- Community Resources
- Toronto Centre Development Map
- TDSB Trustee Update from Chris Moise
1. Mental Health in Toronto: Call to Action
On World Mental Health Day 2019, I led advocates, service providers and community members to jointly call upon all federal parties to commit to national mental health funding parity and make an annual investment of $300 million per year in Toronto to immediately address Toronto’s mental health and addictions crises, as well as $600 million per year to create the supportive housing units those in crisis need to stabilize and achieve a sense of dignity.
Mental illness accounts for over 100,000 emergency room (ER) visits each year and 12,000 hospitalizations. ER visits for intentional self harm are increasing and Toronto has experienced a 290% increase in ER visits for opioid poisoning/overdoses and a 181% increase in opioid related deaths since 2013. The inadequate funding of mental health services has both direct and indirect costs to Canada’s economy that exceed $50 billion per year.
With the federal election behind us, City Council formally adopted my motion and new campaign calling upon the new federal government for their support and immediate investment so that the individuals, families and communities in distress across Toronto can become healthier and safer.
2. Healthy Neighbourhood Forums
We have had our first two Healthy Neighbourhood Forums, bringing together community voices from Moss Park, Garden District and Cabbagetown South and then from Yonge-Dundas, Church-Wellesley and McGill Granby. Thoughtful community feedback offered robust roundtable discussions about the social determinants of health and what challenges they are facing in their local community. I was so pleased to see so many of you, and look forward to our next three forums. If you haven’t already, you can register for the remaining Healthy Neighbourhood Forums.
St. James Town, Winchester Park, Upper Jarvis & Bloor East
Where: The Church of St Peter and St Simon-the-Apostle, 525 Bloor St E
When: Tuesday November 12, 2019 from 6:00PM to 8:30PM
Regent Park & Cabbagetown
Where: Regent Park Community Centre, 402 Shuter Street
When: Tuesday November 26, 2019 from 6:00PM to 8:30PM
St. Lawrence, Corktown & West Don Lands
Where: St. Lawrence Community Centre, Multipurpose Room, 230 The Esplanade
When: Monday December 2, 2019 from 6:00PM to 8:30PM
Please RSVP for the specific forum you are planning to attend.
3. Yonge TOmorrow: The Yonge Street Environmental Assessment
Did you know the critical water infrastructure and sewers under some portions of Yonge Street in the downtown area dates back to the 1800s and is scheduled for complete replacement in a couple of years. This brings us to the unfortunate reality that major road construction will need to take place soon if we are to avoid watermain breaks and disruption to life-saving water service to the area. With this essential infrastructure project coming down the pipeline, it also brings us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine and then rebuild for the next 100 years, a new for Yonge Street for the future.
This is why I am proud to say proactive planning and design work is continuing to progress on the Yonge Street Environmental Assessment, under the project name Yonge TOmorrow. The City's third-party independent consultants leading this work have assessed feedback from this summer's online survey and the public information session, held in May. They are now working with the Stakeholder Advisory Group comprised of local community businesses, institutions, residents associations and advocacy groups to review the design options, for the section of Yonge Street from Queen Street north to College/Carlton Street.
Yonge, between Queen Street and College/Carlton Street has the highest pedestrian volumes in Canada with numbers exceeding 100,000 per day. It is well used by pedestrians at all hours of the day and throughout all seasons of the year. In addition, the population in the neighbourhood is expected to double by 2041.
In 2018 City Council adopted TOcore’s recommendations identifying Yonge Street as one of Toronto’s Great Streets – a significant retail and civic corridor to be developed as a pedestrian priority urban destination.
Staff are studying opportunities to modernize Yonge. Some potential options for improvement include:
- Increasing the sidewalk width and space dedicated to walking
- Redesigning intersections and laneway connections
- Installing cycling facilities on Yonge Street or a nearby north-south street
- Improving accessibility for all street users
- Improving or increasing pedestrian crossing opportunities
- Space for adding or improving street furniture and streetscape elements such as benches, wayfinding signage, litter/recycling bins, bike parking, lighting, tree planting and public art
- Establishing motor vehicle free zones either permanently or during certain times of the day, week, or year
Transportation staff brought an interim report for information, outlining their progress thus far, to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee on October 17. You can view their report by visiting the Committee agenda page.
Another public information session, to view the design options will be held on November 21, 2019 at the Central YMCA. This is a drop-in session to view the street design options and preliminary recommendations for Yonge Street and share your thoughts. The consultants along with City staff will be available to answer your questions and receive your comments.
What: Public Information Session about Yonge TOmorrow
When: Thursday, November 21, 2019, Anytime between 4:00PM and 8:00PM
Where: Central YMCA, Auditorium 20 Grosvenor Street (just south of Wellesley St. W.)
All information materials will be posted November 7th online here. Feedback is encouraged through the online questionnaire until December 6, 2019.
If you have any questions, contact Maogosha Pyjor Senior Public Consultation Coordinator, either by telephone at 416-338-6866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on Yonge TOmorrow, including the timeline and public feedback summaries, may be found here.
4. "Ontario Line" Transit Update
After limited debate, City Council voted in favour of the City staff negotiating agreements with the Ontario government on four public transit projects for Toronto. City and TTC staff will work with their provincial counterparts to advance plans for the Ontario Line, the Line 2 East Extension, the Yonge Subway Extension and the Eglinton West LRT. As a part of this agenda item, City Council supported numerous motions, including my recommendation to affirm Council’s position that any new and existing TTC routes and vehicles be maintained by the existing integrated and professional TTC staff.. Under this proposed Toronto/Ontario partnership, the City retains ownership of Toronto’s existing subway network and the TTC retains its responsibilities for transit network operations.
Given the current agreement structure including the lack of transparency and real information from the Province, I believe there were too many answered questions to make an informed decision. I want to ensure that all evidence-based impacts on our Toronto Centre communities are carefully studied and mitigated for the future. Without an independent business plan, any cost-benefit analysis for the above and underground routes, real technical information about the technology compatibility, properly resourced and ongoing operating subsidies and sustained capital funding to address the $33B backlog for the state of good repair from the Province which TTC officials have repeatedly identified as their number one priority to keep Toronto’s transit system viable and safely operating, the Ontario Line was not a gamble I was prepared to take at this time.
5. Traffic Signals at Bay Street and St. Mary Street
Great news! Bay Street and St. Mary Street will get traffic control signals. This will be an important step forward for improving pedestrian and cyclist safety along Bay Street.
6. Bay Cloverhill Community Association Annual General Meeting
The BCCA is holding their annual general meeting for membership and neighbours on November 21st. The keynote speaker for the evening is Ken Greenberg, urban designer, teacher and writer, who will be discussing his new book Toronto Reborn.
What: Bay Cloverhill Community Association Annual General Meeting
When: November 21, 2019 from 7:00PM to 9:00PM (registration at 6:30PM)
Where: Central YMCA, 20 Grosvenor Street
7. The Toronto Christmas Market Traffic Plan
The Toronto Christmas Market is a popular event attracting hundreds of thousands of people into the historical Distillery District over the holiday season. Working with Councillor Cressy, we brought together City staff, community stakeholders, Distillery property management, the Toronto Christmas Market organizers and their transportation consultant BA Group to negotiate the use of local roads and mitigate the traffic impact this event has on local residents. It wasn’t easy but with my staff persistence, community effort and co-operation from the Toronto Christmas Market,or the first time in its history, theywill have a traffic management plan to properly divert and re-route traffic in the area. When you are planning your trip this season, please remember to take transit, walk or give yourself a bit of extra time to leave the neighbourhood and to access the event.
Please consult the Toronto Christmas Market website before your trip for travel tips! Toronto Christmas Market
To learn about the traffic plan and affected roads, please click here
8. More Moss Park Update
Project partners, composed of The 519 Community Centre, the City of Toronto and a private individual philanthropist, leading the Moss Park Revitalization Project (also known as More Moss Park) have determined that the project is not feasible at this time. Therefore the project will not be going ahead, in its current form and partnership structure.
Investments in the Moss Park neighbourhood remains my personal high-priority, therefore I will be looking for alternative new funding opportunities, to deliver revitalized amenities, approximately within the same time frame as the original proposal. Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR) staff also remain deeply committed to improvements, and this is reflected in the Facilities Master Plan Implementation Strategy report, which identifies John Innes Community Recreation Centre as a prioritized revitalization facility. This staff report went the October 23 Executive Committee meeting and also adopted by City Council last week.
I will continue to work closely with PFR staff to support the expansion and rebuilding of the John Innes Community Recreation Centre as well as improvements to the green space at Moss Park, and for the continued operation of the Moss Park Arena. The public can expect a further update in January, following the 2020 Capital Budget process.
For more information on the Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan click here.
As the City moves forward, on our own, I want to assure the local residents that I remain steadfast in my commitment to investing and upgrading these important City assets. I will provide additional information as it becomes available in the upcoming months.
Find my full statement on the More Moss Park Project here.
9. Update: Gerrard Street East and Pembroke Street
At the May 2019 meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council, I directed Transportation Services staff to study safety improvement opportunities at the intersection of Gerrard Street East and Pembroke Street, in consultation with the local resident’s association.
Last month Transportation Services staff, resident representatives and I met for the consultation, and several safety options were identified, including the removal of the median trees that are, unfortunately, obstructing sightlines, and the potential relocation of the north side pedestrian crosswalk button, closer to the curb. Staff will bring forward a report identifying their safety actions taken thus far, as well as their additional recommendations, at the December 3, 2019 Toronto and East York Community Council meeting.
10. Update: McGill Parkette
Through the months of August, September, and October I have hosted five safety meetings with local neighbourhood stakeholders to plan and implement new safety strategies for McGill Parkette.
At my direction, the City has been able to intervene, and implement some minor improvements. McGill Parkette has been temporarily closed for maintenance, since August 26th. Parks staff are doing all they can, and are permitted to do - i.e. basic maintenance and landscaping - to make modest safety upgrades. The plantings have been cut back and refreshed, the loose pavers have been fixed, and they are attempting to re-establish the turf. Parks staff are currently investigating potential additional features to animate the park, and restrict smoking, such as the installation of adult exercise equipment.
During the park closure, Toronto Police Services and City outreach teams have continued to monitor the neighbourhood. The park is expected to be re-opened later this year.
Since 2016, I have been attempting to work with the property owner, to upgrade the park and address the design flaws that contribute to the safety issues. Unfortunately, the owner continually refused to allow any redesign to take place. As of late September, the property has been sold, and I am hopeful that the new owner will be more community-minded and amenable to working with the City, to make substantial park improvements. As McGill Parkette is not owned by the City, permissions from the owner are required for any significant changes. Under the long-term lease, the City of Toronto is responsible for maintaining the park until the lease expiry, in 2036.
11. Moss Park Upcoming Community Events
Tech Time - Snap Circuit Challenges
Would you like to learn about coding and robotics? Then, come out to Building Roots’ tech-focused workshop in partnership with Toronto Public Library. Learn and explore more about coding, circuitry, robotics and so much more from a Librarian! This amazing workshop is FREE and there will be snacks! Everyone from all ages and experiences are welcome!
What: Tech Time - Snap Circuit Challenges
When: Saturday, November 30, 2019, 12:00PM to 2:00PM
Where: 285 Shuter St, Penthouse
Building Roots- Do It Together
Join our friends at Building Roots every Saturday through November for a series of creative do-it-yourself workshops. These free community building workshops will teach participants fun, practical and sustainable tools.
What: Do It Together Workshop Series
When: Every Saturday from 3:00PM to 5:00PM
Where: Moss Park Market, 260 Queen Street East
12. Resourcing the Regent Park Social Development Plan
On October 16, a number of Regent Park residents and community partners attended the Economic and Community Development Committee in support of Resourcing the Regent Park Social Development Plan. Following up on my motions from earlier this year, City staff are recommending funding to be included as part of the 2020 budget process in support of the Social Development Plan and the implementation of the plan's priority action items. Community supporters reinforced the need and importance for direct oversight and investments from the City in support of the Plan. Thank you to City Staff from Social Development, Finance and Administration, the Regent Park Stakeholder Table, and a special shout out to the dedicated residents who deputed at the Committee on October 16. I look forward to our ongoing collaboration in supporting the Regent Park Social Development Plan!
13. Update: Regent Park, Phase 4 and 5
On October 5, Regent Park residents participated in the developer presentation. As part of the Toronto Community Housing Request for Proposals (RFP) process to select a Developer Partner for Phases 4 and 5 lands in Regent Park, the three potential Developer Partners presented their community benefits proposals. In addition, each developer responded to questions that were created by residents and were subsequently scored by residents on their responses.
Toronto Community Housing anticipates that the developer partner selection will be finalized by early 2020.
For more information on the Regent Park Request for Proposals for Phase 4 and 5, please click here.
14. Community Events: The 17th Annual Regent Park Film Festival
The Regent Park Film Festival (RPFF), Toronto's longest running free community film festival, is back for its 17th annual Festival. The RPFF runs from November 20 – 23, 2019. The Film Festival focuses on highlighting diverse films that seek to dispel stereotypes. In addition to film screenings, the RPFF hosts a dedicated school film program, workshops, and panel discussions.
Take a look at the full schedule here.
15. Brighten Up your Night with New Lighting at the St. Lawrence Market!
As part of efforts to highlight many of the historic buildings in Old Town Toronto, the City has been working to install new heritage lighting at the St. Lawrence Market. That installation is nearly complete, and will be unveiled in a dynamic lighting ceremony on November 7. Join the local community and I as we officially ‘flip the switch’ on this exciting initiative!
What: St. Lawrence Market Heritage Lighting Unveiling
When: November 7, 2019 from 5:30PM to 6:30PM
Where: St. Lawrence Market, Main Lobby (93 Front Street East)
16. Community Spotlight: Gerstein Crisis Centre
Our friends at Gerstein Crisis Centre believe every person has the right to live a self-directed life and to pursue their greatest level of wellness and happiness.
The Gerstein Crisis Centre on Charles Street East has actively supported consumer survivor initiatives by employing consumer survivor run businesses (e.g. Abel Enterprises, Fresh Start Cleaning & Maintenance, Raging Spoon and Away Express) through all of their operations. They promote artists with lived experience and the Centre even has a beautiful collection of such artwork in their facilities. They house the Consumer Survivor Archives and remain strong supporters of their efforts.
Since 2009, hundreds of individuals have been working on their recovery through the FRESH (Finding Recovery through Exercise, Skills and Hope) Project, WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning) groups and WRAP Fitness sessions that we offer on an ongoing basis.
17. In the Community
Thank you to the organizers of La Fabrique de la Cité for the invitation to speak on your Housing Affordability panel. It was helpful to learn about the international perspectives on this critical issue challenging cities around the world.
It is amazing to see the improvements in Nicholson Lane revealed. The City of Toronto contributed $60,000 of Section 37 funding to kickstart this public realm effort with the support of Old Town Toronto, The Laneway Project and other community partners. Well done everyone!
I was pleased to join Little Canada for their big launch at 10 Dundas East with the Downtown Yonge BIA. Guests got a sneak preview of their amazing Littlization Station. It's not everyday that one gets excited about being littleized! (It's a word) Expect big lineups on July 1st!
Congratulations to Progress Place on their 35th anniversary! This wonderful service led by Criss Habal-Brosek and founded by Brenda Singer, a newly minted Order of Canada member, has been helping people living with mental illness recover to their very best. Thank you for including me in this momentous occasion.
Thanks to the Regent Park residents who spoke at the Economic and Community Development Committee in support of new funding for the refreshed Regent Park Social Development Plan. This important work can't be done without a partnership between the City and community.
I am proud to support Neighbourhood Information Post, an important service provider in Toronto Centre. Congratulations to their Board, staff and volunteers on another successful year. I'm proud to support their work, especially that of the Rent Bank, Housing Trusteeship and the Moss Park Summer Festival!
I am proud to be a multi-year supporter of Homeless Connect TO, a volunteer-driven non-profit organization that brings 100 services, 500 volunteers and 1500 street-involved residents together under one roof. It's an honour to be an annual participant. Congratulations to all who make this event successful!
The George Street Revitalization will replace an outdated and institutional shelter. It modernizes services for Toronto's most vulnerable residents. The new investments will include a 40,000 community hub. Great to hear new programming ideas from service stakeholders.
I was very pleased to join my friend Councillor Mike Layton and the great folks at Heritage Toronto for the unveiling of three new plaques commemorating the earliest Toronto organizing of public services which we continue to rely on today - police, firefighting and public transit.
Thank you CBC for your interest in the public meeting to create a Master Plan for Toronto's First Parliament site. We have an opportunity to turn a large publicly-owned ( by both the city and the province) land asset into a civic space of great cultural and historical importance.
18. In the Media
- 5 Ideas Toronto City Councillors are bringing to City Hall on October 29, October 29, 2019, toronto.com
U of T students, city advocates call on federal parties to invest in Toronto’s mental health, October 20, 2019 -varsity.com
- Toronto council votes for increased police funding, calls on Ottawa for national handgun ban, October 2, 2019- Globe and Mail
- Toronto considering vegetable gardens on new buildings to combat food insecurity, Ocotber 28, 2019 - Global News
19. How to Report
Communities across Toronto are experiencing challenges. There are a number of local resources available to help you respond to both emergency and non-emergency situations you may encounter. When you report to the proper service agency, you help improve response and utilize local resources to better address community challenges.
Here are helpful contacts for emergency and non-emergency situations:
Is it an emergency situation?
Call 9-1-1 (fire, medical emergency, crime in progress, etc.)
Is it an on-going issue?
Call 416-808-2222 (i.e trespassing, aggressive panhandling, etc.)
Have questions or concerns?
Call 3-1-1 (i.e. noise, litter, construction, etc.)
See someone in distress?
Call the City of Toronto’s Streets to Homes: 416-338-4766 (or 311)
Experiencing a mental health crisis?
Call Gerstein’s Crisis Line: 416-929-5200
An issue with TCHC?
Call TCHC Tenant Care: 416-9810-5500 (i.e. maintenance, security, heating, plumbing, etc.)
Concerned about your apartment building standards?
Call RentSafeTO: 416-396-7288 (i.e. maintenance, pests, heating, plumbing, common areas, etc.)
Here is the digital PDF of our How to Report poster. You can print and post on local community message boards and make available to members of the community. Please share widely.
20. *NEW* Community Resources
We are excited to launch the community resources page! Do you want to learn more about the new noise bylaw? Are you interested in learning more about traffic calming measures? Need to learn more about the TCHC transfer process? Visit our new Community Resources webpage.
21. Ward 13 Development Map
As a downtown ward, provincial policy and the City’s Official Plan directs the majority of growth in Toronto to neighbourhoods like St. Lawrence and major corridors like Yonge Street and Dundas Street East. Depending on where you live, keeping track of all of the development in your neighbourhood can be a full time job. The Ward 13 Development Map will help you keep track and learn more.
The development map is updated regularly to inform you of the status of development applications, provides information on city staff reports and Local Planning Appeal Body decisions, and has links to publicly available applicant reports, including applicant planning rationales, traffic studies and sun/shadow studies.
22. TDSB Trustee Update from Chris Moise
We have had a busy month at the TDSB!
On October 6, a tentative agreement was reached between CUPE, the Government of Ontario and the Council of Trustees Associations; however, labour negotiations with the Ontario Government and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association will continue for both the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO). To keep you and our school communities informed, we have updated the Labour Negotiations webpage. As part of these negotiations, the Minister of Education Stephen Lecce has just announced that the Province will be proposing a 25 to 1 class size average to OSSTF. While there are not many details available at this point, there were also references to possibly seeking to remove class size caps in local high school collective agreements. We are also working on contingency plans for the possibility of future labour action and, as always, we will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available.
As you know, the TDSB is committed to Academic Pathways and we continue to move forward with our three-year plan to have the majority of high school students studying academic courses for Grades 9 and 10. To provide further details and background information about this important work, I have attached a two-page document entitled Academic Pathways Leading to Student Success.
On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) released achievement results for all Ontario school boards. For the TDSB, when compared to the province, 2018-19 EQAO results for TDSB students in Grades 3 and 6 show that a higher proportion are performing at or above the provincial standard in five of the six assessments in reading, writing and mathematics. This has been a consistent trend over the past five years, with a higher proportion of TDSB students continually performing at the highest level of EQAO. Improvement is needed for Grade 9 math and this will be the focus of a math action plan.
Lastly, please join me, and guest speaker Michelle Munroe, TDSB, for my next ward forum where we will be discussing how to talk to your child about race and diversity.
When: November 21, 2019 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Where: Rosedale School for the Arts, 711 Bloor St E
I hope to see you there!