We're now 6 weeks into reopening in Toronto. With the return to school and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, I know many people are feeling stressed. As a City we are all doing our best to find ways to carry on our daily work, while also balancing the need to stay physically distant and keep our COVID-19 cases low.
Since reopening, Toronto Public Health has tracked approximately 50% of COVID-19 infections to close contact, meaning as a result of exposure to someone whose infection is known - although it may not have been evident when they infected someone else. We know that the majority of transmissions are happening when people are:
- Socializing indoors;
- Big events, with crowds, where people forget about taking steps to protect themselves; and
- Bars and restaurants, especially amongst their staff.
Today, the Province announced it is reducing gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors for private gatherings in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa. Businesses like grocery stores and restaurants would be exempt. Additionally, as we have seen classrooms sizes are also exempt.
If you are confused or unsure about the limits to indoor gatherings, how to navigate social bubbles, or the rules about socializing in restaurants, I don't blame you. As we all do our best to assess the different risks, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has been stressing that tracking transmissions is less about where they happen, but about how people are behaving. Close contact can happen anywhere: with family, at social events, at work – especially anywhere that masks aren’t being worn and physical distancing isn't happening.
Rather than trying to navigate the different rules - remember that you can be infected anywhere if you’re not taking the right steps to protect yourself and to protect others. The key thing is what you do: watch your distance, wear your mask, wash your hands and also, consider where you’re going and whether you need to. If we all think about risk as we go about our daily lives and we act to address risks by taking the steps for self-protection, it will make change and prevent a lot of stress, cost and heartache.
ActiveTO presented by Open Streets is coming to Yonge Street this Sunday!
Finding safe ways for us to be together - apart - continues to be one of my priorities. As you will remember in March, I sent a request to Dr. de Villa, Mayor Tory and Chief Pegg to ask that they consider opening dense urban streets, such as Yonge Street, to people and temporarily close them to cars to allow for physical distancing. It is a challenge for most of us living downtown to find adequate outdoor space to gather safely, or get the physical activity we need.
This request helped spur the wildly successful ActiveTO program that we have seen emerge across the City this summer. And it is why I am so thrilled to announce that the City of Toronto will expand ActiveTO major weekend road closures to include Yonge Street, between Davenport Road and Queen’s Quay, on the final two Sundays in September.
Image description: Councillor Wong-Tam taking a selfie with a thumbs up on a sidewalk in front of a bike, wearing a mask with the OpenStreetsTO logo
In partnership with Open Streets, the City will add part of Yonge Street to the popular weekend road closures initiative on Sunday, September 20 and Sunday, September 27. Roads will begin to close starting as early as 8 a.m. and be reopened by 3 p.m. each day. When all closures are in place, including Yonge Street, there will be more than 14 total kilometres of major roadway available for walking, running and biking on Sundays.
During the closure, a physically distanced activity is planned (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) as part of Open Streets. The Live Green Eco-Walk is a fun activity, administered in a safe, physically distanced manner, that involves finding decals on the street that use QR codes to link to a green fun fact about Toronto. Test your knowledge with a quiz at the end for a chance to win great prizes.
In August 2014, after overcoming two years of caution from city bureaucrats, I helped launch Toronto’s first Open Streets program, by closing Bloor and Yonge streets temporarily to cars and opening them up to people. We attracted 50,000 participants over eight hours on a Sunday morning. OpenStreetsTO instantly became Toronto’s largest free recreational program while promoting fun and healthy ways to explore the city. Earlier this year, Open Streets was one of the many events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the pandemic hit, the City of Toronto was already undertaking a historic and necessary Environmental Assessment in order to consider a permanent redesigning of Yonge Street to increase sidewalk widths, reducing driving lanes and creating a flexible street to allow pedestrian prioritization and seasonal vehicle-free zones. Branded YongeTOmorrow, it is our generation’s once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild Canada’s most famous street for the next 100 years. You can learn more about the proposed plan for YongeTOmorrow and provide feedback through the City of Toronto’s survey until September 30.
Thank you for your resilience, it is an honour to represent you.
As part of the ongoing Regent Park Revitalization, Toronto Community Housing and the Daniels Corporation have contracted RB Somerville Construction to undertake repairing and finishing road work in Phase 2. The work will be completed in the areas south of Dundas Street East, between Regent Street and Sumach Street. Please see below for the detailed breakdown of the construction areas.
Work began on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 and will conclude this October 23. The first phase of work will take place on the roads bordering Nelson Mandela Public School: Sackville Street, and St. David Street between Sackville and Sumach Streets. Work will include: replacement of damaged concrete road bases, curbs and sidewalks, replacing dead trees within their right-of-way, etc. As work progresses in the different areas, traffic will be re-rerouted as required and on-street parking and sidewalk access will be restricted, and driveway access to residential parking may be impacted.
If you require further details about this work, please contact:
Toronto Community Housing Corporation:
Robert Boyd, Construction Manager: [email protected]
Arash Bahamin, Associate Construction Manager: [email protected]
Daniels CM Corporation:
William Filipopoulos, Assistant Project Manager: [email protected]
Alison Platt, Director, Development: [email protected]
William Filipopoulos, Assistant Project Manager: [email protected]
Making Cents: Talking City Budgets with Kristyn Wong-Tam
Image content: promotional poster for Making Cents Budget Series panel event with Councillor Wong-Tam
While Toronto looks to rebuild and recover, now, more than ever, we have to be specific about how we direct City of Toronto finances. How do we determine the health of our communities? How can we make sustainable investments in our future? How can we help take care of ourselves and each other?
In anticipation of the upcoming Toronto City Council budget season, Councillor Wong-Tam will be hosting a series of virtual panels discussing critical issues facing Torontonians through a budget lens. Through a series of five virtual panel events featuring subject matter experts and community organizers, we will help unpack the budget process and explain how investing in community supports sustains healthy neighbourhoods.
More information, including panelists for each event, will be announced shortly. We look forward to generating conversation about critical issues facing our community, and learning about ways we can use our Toronto municipal budget to create change. Now is the time to stand together for a recovery for all. Please share widely with #MakingCentsTO
COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread
As we begin to ease our public health measures, we will all be living a new normal. 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 indoor, enclosed public spaces or where physical distancing is difficult to maintain; and
- Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.
When you are unable to keep a six feet/two-metre distance from others, wear a mask or face covering. This includes when you are:
- In any indoor, enclosed public space;
- In elevators, common areas, waiting rooms or shopping;
- Using transit, taxi or rideshare services; and
- Sick and going to a medical appointment.
Be respectful of others who choose not to wear a mask. Some health conditions make it hard to breathe when wearing a face covering.
How to Create a Safe Social Circles
As we continue our shared fight against COVID-19, you can now establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with whom you can come in close contact. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines.
City of Toronto Staff Report Recommends a Public Consultation and Next Steps on Renaming Dundas Street and Other Public Assets
A City of Toronto staff report going before Executive Committee on September 23 provides recommendations, which includes a public consultation, on the City’s response to the petition to rename Dundas Street and address other civic assets with the Dundas name.
Mayor John Tory and other senior members of the City of Toronto COVID-19 response team met with Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa to discuss what public health measures would be effective in helping push back against the COVID-19 resurgence.
A city-wide temporary public art initiative, BigArtTO will provide residents with opportunities to safely explore city neighbourhoods and support local businesses and artists. BigArtTO will also set the stage for ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021.
Province of Ontario Updates
The Ontario government launched a new voluntary interactive screening tool to assist parents, students and staff with the daily assessment of COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors that is required before attending school. The results will let parents, students, and education staff know whether they should attend school each day or guide at-risk individuals to proper resources. This tool is another layer of prevention that the province is using to protect the health and safety of students, staff, and the communities where they live and work.
The Ontario government is investing $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund in Guelph-based Linamar Corp. to support the retooling of its assembly line to manufacture ventilator components to produce 10,000 Ontario-made e700 ventilators. O-Two Medical Technologies partnered with Linamar Corp. and other partners, including Bombardier, to produce these lifesaving devices to enhance future preparedness and help patients with severe cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
The Ontario government has introduced the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act that would, if passed, freeze rent in 2021 for most rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units. The bill would provide the vast majority of Ontario's tenants with financial relief as the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery.
As we move into the fall and the world continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, the Government of Canada remains focused on keeping Canadians safe and healthy, while continuing to ensure they have the supports needed during this global health and economic crisis.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, shared the details of the investments that will be made through the Safe Restart Agreement. This will provide continued support to Canadians, as we safely restart our economy and build a more resilient Canada.
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
Call if you develop symptoms!
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Email: [email protected]
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
Email: [email protected]
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.
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. In the past, by diligently reporting criminal activity, residents were able to see our community policing and other service levels increase. You can do your part: see it, report it.