The last month has revealed how precariously many families in St. James Town apartment buildings are living. On January 22, power, heat and water was shut off at 260 Wellesley Street East when a pipe burst and damaged the building's electrical systems. What followed was five days of ambiguity and concern, as Toronto Fire, Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), and the Red Cross prepared for the worst. By the time regular operations were restored to 260 Wellesley Street East on January 26, it was obvious to everyone that the circumstances that led to this event could not be left unaddressed.
On January 30, City Council passed my motion Holding Landlords Responsible for Property Maintenance and Improving Crisis Communications in Emergencies. In the motion, staff were directed to undertake building and fire safety audits throughout St. James Town to ensure that tenants are not caught off guard again. The City is now exploring how we can better regulate property maintenance – specifically with electrical systems. These inspections and separate reviews being undertaken by the ESA and Toronto Fire are now underway and will be ongoing over the next few months.
The following week, the ESA identified a serious risk in the electric system at 280 Wellesley Street East. On February 6, power and water were disconnected to allow for a full investigation and immediate repairs. Thankfully, due to the issue being identified pre-emptively, it only took two days for the building's operations to be restored and for the electric system to be deemed safe. This is the kind of early identification that all tenants should be able to rely upon.
When 260 Wellesley Street lost power, I hosted a community meeting with tenants, City staff, representatives of the owner, and the Mayor. Stories of neglect and mismanagement were reinforced by many, including tenants who had been displaced from 650 Parliament Street previously. Now, I am canvassing the buildings of St. James Town to meet with residents where they live – to make sure we can connect in an emergency and to take stock of the challenges we need to address in the community. The stories are the same, but we are starting to make some progress and I feel a sense of hope for what we can accomplish.
St. James Town is remarkably resilient. Neighbours took care of each other and kept steady through a terribly trying time. Property owners are entirely responsible for their properties, and the City of Toronto will always step in to help in a crisis. Only by working together, can we raise the standards to help keep everyone healthy and safe.
Yours in community service,
Table of Contents
- The 2019 Toronto Budget
- Downtown Budget Town Hall
- Toronto Centre Town Hall on Gender Responsive and Equity Budgeting
- Remembering the Eight Men Lost to us in the Village
- Community Meeting for St. James Town Residents
- Gerrard Street East & Shuter Street Reconstruction Notice
- Wellesley Community Centre Aquatic Centre Update
- Harm Reduction Supply Clean-up Pilot Project
- Ward 13 Development Map
- Community Spotlight - Building Roots
- In the Community
- Media Spotlight
- Chris Moise - School Board Trustee Update
1. The 2019 Toronto Budget
On March 7, 2019, City Council will approve the 2019 Operating and Capital Budget. The downtown, especially communities in Ward 13 have felt the largest impacts of years of flatlined budgets that have frozen service levels, even as our population grows as fast as it ever has. It is my ongoing priority, throughout this budget process, to push for the services and facilities we need today.
As you may have read in the news and heard on the radio, Toronto has fallen behind on fully implementing and funding the City's Youth Equity Strategy and the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Even in communities where state-of-the-art facilities have been built, families living in poverty are still unable to access programs. In our own community, this has been most obvious in Regent Park – where the new Aquatics Centre was built for the local community, but local parents cannot get fair access to register their children. I will be seeking funding to specifically open more program opportunities for local youth and to push for the proper, complete, and sustained funding of these larger policies that give so many children and families the opportunities and community they desperately need.
On March 6, I will be hosting a Town Hall on Gender and Equity Responsive Budgeting in Regent Park. While City Council has passed three consecutive motions to apply a stronger gender-equity lens to the budget process, progress has been slow and much more needs to be done. I will be reaching out to the wider community in the spring when the official report will be coming forward on how City Council can improve these standards.
I want to thank everyone who has written to me about the budget and those who have signed petitions or written to Council to demand that we properly fund our core priorities from shelters and affordable housing to transportation and safety. Every year, your advocacy and the hard work of several Councillors secures important and critical funding that make our neighbourhoods more vibrant, our streets safer, and connect residents in distress with urgent help in their time need.
2. Downtown Budget Town Hall
Do you live in Ward 10, 11, or 13?
Join Councillor Cressy, Councillor Layton, and myself for our 2019 Downtown Budget Town Hall.
As we continue to work hard on critically important issues that face our downtown communities, conversations have now begun at City Hall about the future of our city through the release of the proposed 2019 Budget.
At its core, the annual Budget debate is about people. Decisions made during the budget process immediately affect how we live in our city; how we interact with our parks and greenspaces; how we get around – whether on foot, bike, transit or car, and how we support each other. In this budget, we need your help to ask critical questions – are we building a fair and supportive city?
What: Downtown Budget Town Hall
When: Friday, February 22, 2019, 6:30pm to 8:00pm
Where: City Hall, 100 Queen St W, Committee Room 1
We want to hear from you!
3. Toronto Centre Town Hall on Gender and Equity Responsive Budgeting
Join us on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at the Regent Park Community Centre for our 2019 Gender and Equity Responsive Budgeting Town Hall and expert panel. Interactive digital voting by Data on the Spot technology will be used to solicit feedback and identify key investment priorities for City Council.
What: Gender and Equity Responsive Budgeting Town Hall
When: Wednesday, March 6, 2019, 6:00 pm
Where: Regent Park Community Centre, 402 Shuter St, Toronto
Light refreshments will be served. ASL interpretation will be available. This venue is wheelchair accessible.
In 2016, 2017, and 2018, City Council approved motions by Councillor Wong-Tam to include an intersectional gender equity lens in the City budget. These motions are a major opportunity to join cities across the world that already promote gender equity, by rethinking how spending and revenues impact Toronto’s families – especially diverse women and girls in the city.
Since putting forward these motions, the City of Toronto has established an Equity Responsive Budgeting process to provide an equity impact analysis of changes in the staff recommended Operating Budget. Equity impact analysis identifies equity-seeking groups that are impacted, with an emphasis on women and persons with low income; barriers to equity that are affected (e.g. access to services); and level of impact.
It is important that everyone has fair access to city resources, and that we work together to ensure these resources are creating a City where everyone can prosper! We need your participation and input to improve Toronto's budget. From recreation services to child care subsidies to TCHC housing repairs, your voice matters.
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2086875154936572/
4. Remembering the Eight Community Members Lost to us in the Village
Last Sunday I had the opportunity to join with the community at the Metropolitan Community Church to mourn and grieve the deaths of Andrew Kinsman, Selim Esen, Majeed Kayhan, Dean Lisowick, Soroush Mahmudi, Skandaraj Navaratnam, Abdulbasir Faizi and Kirushna Kanagaratnam. These were the eight men from the Village murdered by Bruce McArthur and their absence has been deeply felt.
There is little I can say that has not already been said. The loss of these men is a tragedy that will stay with us forever. The targeting of men of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent is especially hard on communities that were already working hard to achieve inclusion. Stopping violence and ensuring that authorities are more responsive to calls for action is as important now as we call for a public inquiry for the Toronto Police's handling and investigation of the missing and murdered eight.
5. Community Meeting for St. James Town Residents
Following the fire at 650 Parliament Street and the flooding at 260 Wellesley Street East, many tenants of St. James Town have brought concerns about their legal rights and the state of their apartment buildings.
Join us for a community meeting to discuss tenant rights, including updates about building inspections in St. James Town and to learn more about the City of Toronto's RentSafeTO program.
What: Community Meeting for St. James Town Residents
When: Thursday, February 21, 2019, 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Where: Wellesley Community Centre (495 Sherbourne St.)
The following city divisions, community organizations, and elected officials will be attending this meeting:
- Office of Emergency Management
- Toronto Fire Services
- RentSafeTO (with Municipal Licensing and Standards)
- St. James Town Community Corner
- Bill Morneau, Member of Parliament for Toronto-Centre
- Suze Morrison, Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto-Centre
- Chris Moise, School Trustee for Ward 14 Toronto Centre-Rosedale
- Neighbourhood Legal Services
- Federation of Metro Tenants Association
If you are a St. James Town tenant, please fill out this survey to ensure you receive important updates:
6. Gerrard Street East and Shuter Street Reconstruction Notice
Both Gerrard Street East and Shuter Street from Sherbourne to Parliament are scheduled for reconstruction in 2020. This will consist of replacing the entire road structure, including the asphalt and underlying support materials. Repair, improvement, or replacement of road drainage, curbs, boulevards and sidewalks.
Work will also include the replacement of the City-owned portion of substandard water service connections. Private property owners are encouraged to replace the private portion of the substandard water service connection, at the same time.
7. Wellesley Community Centre Aquatic Centre Update
Work continues on the construction of the new aquatics centre at Wellesley Community Centre. City staff have recently told me that the work is now approximately 50% complete.
The contractor has:
- Installed the roof vapour barrier to all new roof areas;
- Installed the roof waterproof membrane to the pool hall;
- Completed most of the concrete block interior walls;
- Poured the concrete tank walls for the 25m lap pool;
- Tarped the building perimeter and is providing construction heating to allow interior work to proceed.
The contractor is continuing with:
- rough in of plumbing;
- rough in of electrical;
- masonry block walls
- pool tank walls
Construction is currently expected to substantially complete by Q4 of 2019, with staff occupancy in Q1 of 2020.
8. Harm Reduction Supply Clean-up Pilot Project
Local social service agencies are piloting a new initiative, in response to requests from residents for more support in ensuring that harm reduction supplies are disposed of properly. This service is specifically for private property. Residents are encouraged to contact 311 for supplies found on public property. Residents who need help cleaning up harm reduction supplies (needles and other safe injection/ smoking supplies) on their property may email [email protected], with a note about the location needing attention.
The goal of this initiative is to centralize requests, both to get a better idea of how much need there is, and also to organize agency staff to make sure that support can be provided in a timely manner. The agencies aim to respond to all requests for clean-up within 24 hours of receiving them by email.
This pilot will run from February 4 to April 30, 2019, at which time the agencies will evaluate its manageability and future funding requirements. The boundaries for the pilot run north to Carlton, south to Queen, east to Parliament, and west to Jarvis.
The agencies that are collaborating on this initiative are the following:
- Street Health
- Regent Park Community Health Centre
- Margaret’s Toronto East Drop-In
- Moss Park OPS
- Fred Victor SIS
- All Saints Church – Community Centre
9. Ward 13 Development Map
Toronto Centre is one of the busiest wards in Toronto in terms of development activity. I am excited to share with you that our development map has been upgraded and now includes all of the active development applications for Ward 13 - Toronto Centre. This is a great resource that our team works hard to maintain. We will be adding the neighbourhood boundaries and Heritage Conservation Districts shortly.
10. Community Spotlight - Building Roots
Building Roots is a leading community organization whose mission is to bring healthy food to all neighbourhoods. In order to accomplish this, they take a full-service approach to working within communities, and often partner with builders, property managers, agencies, and resident groups. This innovative approach allows them to lead the conversation in growing community and commercial food infrastructure into new housing developments and neighbourhood revitalization projects.
Building Roots have several projects in Ward 13, which I am proud to support. They run the popular Moss Park Market - Toronto's first ever shipping container grocery store. Located on Queen Street, one block east of Sherbourne, the market provides affordable access to fresh sustainable produce. Many of the fruits and veggies are sourced from their own urban farm in Ashbridge Estate! The Market runs year-round, on Saturdays from 11am-3pm.
In addition to the Market, Building Roots are working to create cohesion in Moss Park with a series of community initiatives. Through the support of the Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and Toronto Community Housing – they have launched cooking programming, for youth, children, and families. This includes their successful Karma Kitchen program in the Moss Park Apartments. A wonderful space for the local community to share food, music and laughter, on the 3rd Sunday of each month from 12:00 - 2:00 pm.
Edible Allan Gardens is another exciting project. A collaboration that came forward out of the Urban Harvest Festival, a first-of-its-kind event to explore urban agriculture possibilities in Allan Gardens. Building Roots worked closely with ERA Architects, caterToronto, Friends of Allan Gardens, Ryerson, and involved residents to create a hugely successful festival in the park. This event was a springboard toward creating a beautiful urban agriculture demonstration behind the park Conservatory, a project that is now going into its 3rd summer.
To learn more about Building Roots, and how you can participate in and support their fight for urban food security, please visit their website at www.buildingroots.ca
11. In the Community
In St. James Town listening to residents' concerns about fire safety, building maintenance and elevators that break down too often. If you're a tenant we invite you to complete this short survey. In case of an emergency, we want to know how to reach you.
Thank you to the St. James Town Community Co-op OASIS Food Hub for the opportunity to speak with your members at the design charrette. I'm extremely excited to be working with you to improve food security, skill development and social cohesion for all in the neighbourhood.
Thank you to the ArtsDayTO team for your visit to City Hall. I wholeheartedly support increasing the City's art budget by at least $2M this year to expand funding for artists and it's time to develop a new Culture Plan for Toronto!
Thank you to the Cabbagetown South Residents Association for the invitation to speak at your successful AGM. I'm proud of our work together in the downtown east. It's an honour to be your representative at City Hall.
Here's some good news for St. James Town. We are building a much needed new park at 60 Howard Street. It is going to be a fantastic new addition to the neighbourhood!
Thank you to the Regent Park Islamic Resource Centre for the invitation to speak as your Honourary Guest. The theme "Unity through Community" captures the essence of what makes Regent Park one of the most diverse, resilient & inclusive neighbourhoods in Toronto.
The blackout at 260 Wellesley Street East could've resulted in an evacuation of 1000+ residents in deep winter. With shelters full and insufficient hotel options, it was due to fast and caring work from interdivisional city staff especially Toronto Fire that averted displacement. Thank you!
Wonderful to moderate the Design Wo/Manifesto panel discussion on advocacy, collaboration & creative place-making. Honoured to be amongst these exceptional civic leaders. Thank you OCAD University and DesignFestTO for driving this discussion.
It's unfair that Regent Park families are shut out of local recreation facilities. I'm working with Access to Recreation to ensure Toronto City Council gives the local community equitable access. We are deputing to the Budget and Executive Committees soon.
We are calling on our colleagues at City Council to step up and create an action plan to address homelessness. We also need to ask our provincial and federal partners to come together and tackle this emergency holistically.
Thank you Raging Asian Women taiko drummers for bringing heart and drumbeat to the Women's March & Rally. We wore red scarves in support of raising awareness to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Nothing including a freezing snowstorm could hold back the power of women and allies. Proud to stand with Women March On TO in the fight for gender equity.
Speaking to the CBC about the need to provide equitable access to recreation services for youth and families in communities such as Regent Park. City Council must ensure vulnerable youth get community supports and recreation services if we're to end poverty and the cycle of violence.
Proud to be working with my friend Joe Cressy to represent the good folks at Gooderham & Worts Neighbourhood Association - GWNA Inc.. Thank you for inviting us to your meeting last night. We look forward to working with you to build an even healthier and more sustainable neighbourhood together.
12. Media Spotlight
Front-line workers call for immediate action to ease homelessness ‘crisis’, The Toronto Star
Regent Park kids being squeezed out of their own pool, Toronto councillor says, CBC News
'We will not go back': Hundreds of women brave cold and snow to march in Toronto, CBC News
Late councillor Pam McConnell's legacy endures in second annual award, CBC News
Advocates, Toronto councillors call for state of emergency over city’s homeless, Globe and Mail
Toronto council approves making Richmond-Adelaide bike lanes permanent, The Toronto Star
- Toronto City Council formally calls on short-term rentals to delist properties not playing by the rules, Daily Hive
13. Chris Moise – School Board Trustee Update
Students downtown matter. While the myth is that we have all of the resources, we know that is not true. From Ossington to Bayview, we have crowded classrooms, ageing schools, and serious challenges providing our most vulnerable children and youth with the opportunities they need to succeed. This is why the work of the TDSB is so important to me and why I am back at the Board for a new term of office.
What many of you may not know is that TDSB boundaries were changed in the last election, as well. That impacts our communities directly, as my position is now responsible for both Ward 11 and Ward 13 schools across the downtown. However, I believe that there are ways to improve representation and accountability and I am already working to make sure our students, parents, and schools have a loud voice.
This term, I have sought and won election as Vice-Chair of the TDSB and am serving on the Community Use of Schools Committee, the Black Student Achievement Advisory Committee, and the Toronto Lands Corporation. These positions allow me to bring connect the needs in our communities with the budget, finance, enrolment, programming, school services, and governance operations at the Board.
I am also undertaking an audit of all of our schools to start the term, meeting with Principals, students, and teachers to break-down the issues at each. I am also holding Ward Forums to provide an added venue for parents to connect and learn about ongoing work and projects. Most recently, my January 24, 2019 forum at the Kensington Community School brought out the community to discuss the recently completed Parent Student Census and upcoming cuts to the TDSB from the Province.
2019/2020 School Board Budget Ward Forum
Join me for a public consultation on TDSB spending priorities. The Board has roughly $612M in discretionary funding that is used to address the most urgent needs of our students, schools, and teachers. I want to hear what is most important to you and where the money should be spent.
When: March 5, 2019, from 6:30 to 9:00 pm
Where: Church Street Junior Public School
Finally, our communities have tremendous synergies that we can take advantage of. Councillors Wong-Tam and Layton are both excellent collaborators and we have already found unique opportunities to invest in our schools and build stronger community connections. In just one example, Councillor Wong-Tam and I have invested in upgrading the fences around the Church Street Public School. Due for capital spending already, this allowed for a more durable design, the inclusion of incredible public art, and allowed for capital dollars from the TDSB to be directed back into the school itself for classroom and school works. I will be sharing more information about this project in the weeks ahead.
As your advocate at the TDSB, I would like to hear from you through Twitter, Facebook, or at [email protected], so that I can respond to any inquiries, suggestions or concerns you may have. Community feedback is core to all the work I do on your behalf at the Board.