Supreme Court Ruling, Throne Speech, Council Roundup, and COVID-19 Updates

On Friday, I was disappointed and disheartened to learn that the Supreme Court upheld Premier Ford’s controversial slashing of City Council in 2018 in the middle of the municipal election. Back in 2018, that was the first of many cuts Premier Ford made in order to swipe at democracy and local governance. At that time, he said it was in an effort to save costs, but there were no such savings. Instead, it cost the City $1.93 million with an increased staffing budget, and cost residents equitable representation in their local government. 

As we know, this was only the first of many radical cuts to public health, arts, education, legal services, and other essential services. His cuts to public health a year before the pandemic set the Province up for failure. He ignored long-term care homes care to the detriment of our seniors. While the Premier’s throne speech touted his proficient handling of the pandemic, we know the truth. His fumbling and resistance to science have sadly put more residents in danger, and prolonged the pandemic. 

While the Supreme Court ruling is maddening, I trust that residents will pay attention to Premier Ford’s continued outrageous disregard for the City of Toronto. He has bulldozed local planning, local governance, and eliminated essential services. It is clear that he is not for all people, but instead for his developer friends and party donors. The Premier is not interested in Toronto, and residents are rallying to show him that we will not allow this any further. 

Long before the pandemic, I know housing and vulnerable residents experiencing homelessness have been top of mind for many of us. Although a tent will never be a suitable replacement for a permanent and safe home, I recognize that resources invested to move people living in encampments into housing or hotel shelters should not result in violence or further displacements from parks to sidewalks or laneways.

In advance of this City Council meeting, I submitted an Administrative Inquiry on the clearing of encampments at Trinity Bellwoods, Alexandra Park, and Lamport Stadium. I did this so we can gain a better understanding of how much the three large encampment clearing costs, who called in the oversized police presence, and how many people were successfully relocated into housing.

As you may have read in a press release from the City of Toronto, the total cost of the three clearings, and their maintenance is upwards of $2 million. Out of the 64 individuals who moved from the encampments, only 27 remain in shelter programs. My concern, as it has always been, is whether or not the displacement of these residents will be safer if they are pushed out to other spaces, such as empty buildings, stairwells, or under bridges. At Friday’s City Council meeting, the City Manager provided their formal response to my inquiry.

Councillors Matlow and Layton submitted a further motion pushing for a Judicial Inquiry into the police action during the encampment clearings. City Council voted to close that debate on the Judicial Inquiry and to take no further action on the City Manager’s response to my Administrative Inquiry. We have all seen the photographic evidence documenting the violent clashes and yet City Council refused to acknowledge or ask deeper questions about why such behaviour was allowed and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Multi-tenant housing (otherwise known as rooming houses) have been a contentious issue for many suburban Councillors on City Council, and yesterday’s meeting was no exception. For the second time this year, the City’s new Multi-Tenant Houses framework has been delayed and referred by the Mayor back to the Planning and Housing Committee with another anticipated report due sometime in 2022. The current rooming house bylaw is geographically based and discriminatory. It will most likely not withstand a legal and Charter challenge. I cannot stress how important it is that this framework is adopted and implemented quickly when 2022 arrives.

I know how much our Downtown has suffered over the course of the ongoing pandemic, and while we are starting to see an improvement, recovery across our communities is slow going. After two full days of City Council, I’m excited to share that my motion was adopted at City Council which directs staff to explore a tiered disbursement model for federal business grants recognizing that some communities have been hit harder, especially our downtown, and will be slower to recover. 

​​”While other Business Districts experienced a gradual recovery in consumer spending as the lockdown was eased, spending levels in the Metropolitan Centre remained suppressed…” reads a report released by Toronto Regional Board of Trade outlining how Toronto’s downtown is still slow to recover. This is a result of the 80% drop in revenues from our tourism and entertainment sectors. 

I know all of our neighbourhoods across Toronto have been struggling, and our Main Streets downtown have been hit hard. There are empty office spaces, empty restaurants, and tourist destinations. Right now, these establishments are whispers of what they once were, and this motion is a step towards recovery. 

I continue to hear from residents who are not satisfied with the customer service, or response times of 311 and its representatives. When complaints are made, residents are left with little information or follow-up to their responses. Additionally, time-sensitive matters, such as noise complaints are not responded to in a timely manner and can be up to five business days before they’re investigated. To respond to this need, I’ve directed staff to inform Council as part of the 2022 Operating Budget how much funding would be required for a rapid overnight response by-law enforcement or a pilot project in areas with a high volume of complaints. 

Many of you have reached out with concerns and cautious excitement about the Ontario Line, a new transit line expedited by the Province of Ontario, connecting the Ontario Science Centre to Exhibition Place. I was proud to see two of my motions adopted by City Council yesterday. The first focusing on the First Parliament Master Plan and directing that staff present their plan to City Council. The First Parliament Master Plan identified community priorities and this vision document should help City staff to inform negotiations with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario on their “Transit-Oriented Communities.”  A piece of legislation designed to hand over municipal lands to Premier Ford’s developer friends in the name of transit without thought for creating complete communities, and overriding local planning efforts. 

Additionally, Council adopted my motion requesting Metrolinx host a community consultation on the construction methodology for the station built in Moss Park as well as how this construction impacts and delays the Moss Park Revitalization. There has yet to be any form of consultation on the Moss Park subway station as permissions are sought and construction imminent. It is critical that Metrolinx, and the Province, listen to these communities who not only will have to live with the construction but also inside these communities for years to come. We need to work together to build our future and create the neighbourhoods we want to see. Our green space is vital and we cannot afford to give it up because it is cheaper for the Province. Metrolinx needs to come to the table in a meaningful way with our communities, and collaborate. 

This Thursday the Provincial noise regulation, which overrode our City by-laws for the pandemic, is set to expire. The noise by-laws will return to what they were pre-pandemic generally 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I know it’s been challenging working from home while construction continues into the late evening. Thank you to everyone who shared your stories, signed our petition, and for your joint advocacy.

Lastly, I want to take a moment to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. This comes quickly after our first Day of Truth and Reconciliation, and the National Day of Action for Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. It is important that we consider what we have been learning and unlearning in how we celebrate. Today and every day, we must address the root cause of colonial violence. The work of acknowledging our collective truth is hard and worthy of our attention, let this Thanksgiving be a time where we create new traditions honouring our Indigenous communities.

Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.

Kristyn


What’s In Today’s EBlast?


Ontario Line Virtual Open House - Downtown Segment

On Thursday, October 7, 2021, Metrolinx will be hosting a virtual open house to discuss updates for Queen Station and the First Parliament site near Corktown Station. Questions about all Downtown segment stations (Osgoode, Queen, Moss Park, and Corktown) are welcome.

When: Thursday, October 7, 2021 
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Register to attend and submit questions

You may reach out to [email protected] or call 416-202-5100. Learn more about the Ontario Line through their website, news blog, and e-newsletter.


You May Be Interested In: Dixon Hall Job Fair 

Dixon Hall Job Fair promotional posterDixon Hall Job Fair promotional poster

On October 7th from 11 am- 2 pm join Dixon Hall for a job fair! While enjoying some BBQ, you’ll get to explore current employment positions and future opportunities, interview on-site for current openings, grow your network, make connections, and much more! If you are planning to attend, please preregister by sending an email to [email protected], and make sure to bring your resume on the day of the event. 

When: Thursday, October 7th, 2021
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Where: 188 Carlton St, Toronto, ON, M5A 2K8
Preregister by emailing: [email protected] 

For more information on current positions at Dixon Hall visit their website: https://dixonhall.org/careers/


Portals at College Park

Photo of the Portals installation at College ParkPhoto of the Portals installation at College Park

Arts and culture is a significant component when it comes to revitalizing and activating our community spaces. Animated spaces draw crowds locally as well as from the wider Toronto community, which increases foot traffic in the area. In an effort to spearhead the much-needed economic recovery in the downtown Yonge corridor, the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA) in collaboration with local-area condos has installed a bright, bold, and colourful interactive exhibit that attracted curious passersby. 

Photo of the Portals installation at College ParkPhoto of the Portals installation at College Park

The futuristic Portals at College Park features a series of unique heptagonal structures with lights and mirrors that light up when someone steps inside and showcasing exterior murals painted by five upcoming Toronto Erin McCluskey, Andre Khan, Gosia Komorski, Alberto Cruz, and Caylen Monroe. The mesmerizing and interactive portals aim to store the neighbourhood's vibrancy and the first step toward reinvigorating the downtown cultural scene. Portals at College Park opened on September 20, for a month-long curation.  Admission is free. 

Where: College Park, 444 Yonge Street
When: Now until October 20

Looking forward to learning about your experience visiting Portals. My family and I loved exploring it! 

Photo of the Portals installation at College ParkPhoto of the Portals installation at College Park


Updating Toronto's Growth Funding Tools Information Sessions 

Updating Toronto's Growth Funding Tools Information Session promotional posterUpdating Toronto's Growth Funding Tools Information Session promotional poster

With more than 3.65 million people calling Toronto home over the next thirty years, we need a plan to pay for our growth today, so our communities can thrive well into the future. This means that as we grow, we’re investing in roads, transit, water and wastewater infrastructure, community centres, parks, childcare, and other municipal services.

Recently, the Ontario Government enacted changes to how municipalities generate funding from development activity. The changes made through Bill 197 mean that the City must update three primary growth-related funding tools:

Collectively, these three financial tools generate approximately $750 million in revenue for the City of Toronto each year. The City invites you to learn more about these tools and share your input by registering for an upcoming virtual public information session below. 

When: Wednesday, October 6 
Time: 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Register

OR

When: Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Register

Learn more on the City’s website. If you have any questions or feedback, please contact the project team at: [email protected].


Socks 4 Souls 

Socks 4 Souls fundraiser information posterSocks 4 Souls fundraiser information poster

Our friends at Socks 4 Souls are preparing for World Homeless Day on October 10th by fundraising to purchase 10,000 pairs of socks. As a primarily volunteer-run non-profit organization, Socks 4 Souls endeavours to provide warmth comfort, mobility, and health to Canada’s homeless communities by distributing new socks. Learn more about Socks 4 Souls and their impact across Canada on their website

If you would like to contribute to their sock fundraiser, please visit here


Our Plan Toronto Consultation Program

Our Plan Toronto is hosting a series of upcoming public meetings on key Official Plan policy areas that are currently under review as part of the Our Plan Toronto consultation program. I would encourage you to attend any combination of meetings that interest you. Meeting summaries will be available upon completion. You will also find a link to a survey on expectations for Toronto 2051

Future of Work and Employment discusses job growth trends, impacts of the global pandemic, trajectory of change in employment, matching labour force with opportunities, supporting small businesses, and the Employment Area conversion request process and update.

When: Thursday, October 14, 2021
Time: 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Register to attend

Neighbourhoods and Complete Communities discusses ongoing policy work on Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods, Major Transit Station Area delineations that fall within Neighbourhoods, components of complete communities, and others.

When: Friday, October 15, 2021
Time: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register to attend 

Once you have registered for a stakeholder meeting you will receive a confirmation email from Dillon Consulting with a calendar invitation and meeting link. Agendas for each meeting will be circulated to registered attendees prior to each meeting. 


Dixon Hall Community Transportation 

Dixon Hall Community Transportation Program information posterDixon Hall Community Transportation Program information poster

Did you know Dixon Hall provides door-to-door assisted transportation to seniors 55+ and adults with disabilities to medical, rehabilitation, and therapy appointments, shopping, social outings, and community programs?

Community Transportation provides safe, reliable rides to medical, rehabilitation & therapy appointments, shopping, social outings, and community programs for those who have difficulty accessing public transportation. For more information on how to book a ride and costs, please call 416-863-0499 Ext 3222, and visit their website: https://dixonhall.org/seniors/#Transportation 


Volunteers Needed: Meals on Wheels

Meals on wheels volunteer information poster

Meals on wheels volunteer information poster

Meals on Wheels is looking for volunteers! Meals on Wheels provides a variety of nutritious food options that are delivered to an individual’s home by friendly, caring volunteers. Many special diets can be accommodated. 

If you're 16 years of age or older and available to help from 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (a minimum of one day per week) consider volunteering for this vital program. For more information call 416- 863-0499 ext. 3225 or email: [email protected]. For more information about the Meals on Wheels program, please visit their website: https://dixonhall.org/seniors/#meals-on-wheels.


Toronto Centre Projects

Toronto Centre Projects promotional graphicToronto Centre Projects promotional graphic

Toronto Centre Projects is designed to engage community members and crowdsource neighbourhood projects supported by the Councillor's office and your neighbours. Over the next year, my office will be launching consultations for several parks and dog off-leash area revitalizations, public realm improvements, and more.

Have ideas to make our communities more liveable, vibrant, and safe? Submit them at www.TorontoCentreProjects.ca.


COVID-19: Vaccine Information 

For updates about Toronto’s vaccination rollout and booking system, please visit my website.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic by phone through the provincial call centre, 1-888-999-6488.

Book an appointment at a City-operated vaccination clinic online at www.toronto.ca/covid-19. For online bookings, you will need: 

  • Information found on your Government of Ontario photo health card;
  • Birthdate;
  • Postal code; and
  • Email address or phone number.

The provincial system will verify your eligibility to book an appointment for vaccination based on this information and will then guide you to the scheduling system. 

Please do not call 311 or Toronto Public Health to book an appointment. The City 311 contact centre and Toronto Public Health staff do not have access to the booking system.


Vaccinated Against COVID-19? What Does It Mean For Me?

By getting vaccinated, you benefit from the protection you get against COVID-19 and the easing of restrictive measures in your community. You still need to follow local public health advice in public settings (e.g. workplaces, public transit). Their advice considers community risk levels. 

A majority of people in Canada have now had their first shot and many will soon be fully vaccinated. Below is a handy chart created by Public Health Canada to inform your actions depending on your vaccination status. This advice is based on the current state and will be updated as vaccination rates continue to increase and cases decrease.


COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread

As we begin to again restrengthen our public health measures, we will all continue to live in this new normal. Wearing a mask or a face covering is mandatory in all public indoor spaces and on the TTC. Our commitment must be to continue minimizing the impact of COVID-19, especially on our most vulnerable residents, while reducing negative social, economic, and broader health impacts on our community. In the coming months what this means for our residents is:

  • Continuing to work remotely, wherever possible;
  • Maintaining physical distance from people outside our household or social circle/bubble;
  • Avoiding crowds and congregations in closed indoor settings;
  • Wearing a cloth mask or face covering in any public indoor setting, including stores, transit, offices; and where
  • physical distancing is difficult to maintain.
  • Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.

Thank you for doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our communities. For more tips on social distancing, please visit the City’s website or download this info sheet.


COVID-19 Information and Resources

Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19.

Phone lines for telehealth, TPH and 311 continue to experience very high volumes. Please help keep the phones lines open for people who are sick by visiting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms!
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: [email protected]

311 Toronto
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
Telephone: 311 (The City is only accepting 311 requests through phone)

Support for People Living with Homelessness

If you see someone living with homelessness and in need of support you can call Streets to Homes at 416-338-4766. For mental health support, the Gerstein Crisis Centre is a valuable 24-hours a day, seven days a week service in our community and they have crisis workers on standby at 416-929-5200. More resources, including additional how to report information, are available on my website at kristynwongtam.ca.

Toronto Police

If you or someone else is confronted with life-threatening danger, please call 911 immediately. Alternatively, the Toronto Police request that online reports be submitted at torontopolice.on.ca/core or to torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaints. You can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. 

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