Twenty faith leaders with elected officials, community groups and hundreds of residents band together in #UniteForLove Rally against hate and bigotry
Statement on the Planned March for September 28
This Saturday several groups are coordinating to march up Church Street from The Esplanade to Davenport Road, right through the heart of the Village, Canada’s largest LGBTQ2S+ community. Participants expected include radical right provocateurs, Islamophobic organizations, white supremacists, and self-proclaimed Christian activists who have disrupted past Pride events. The planned march will be traumatic for those who have faced homophobia, transphobia, racism, and other forms of discrimination. I condemn this in the strongest possible terms. The LGBTQ2S+ community and our allies are not going back into the closet. Nor will we stand to be erased and belittled for who we choose to love and how we chose to define family. We will not concede the inclusion and progress we have fought so hard for.
There is a group of homophobic and transphobic self-proclaimed "Christians" organizing a march and rally on September 28. They have published their intentions to march on Church Street from The Esplanade to Davenport Road, right through The Village. More recently, anti-Islamic organizations have found common cause with this group and plan to join them in their march.
The month of August has left two young women sexually assaulted in McGill Parkette. Residents should know that the Toronto Police and Parks Ambassador staff are patrolling McGill Parkette several times a day, making frequent arrests, issuing tickets and responding quickly to calls for service. Community Crisis Response and Streets to Homes staff are engaging with homeless youth in and around the parkette to alert them to the danger, and to steer them towards services and helping programs.
A year ago, 1,500 tenants found themselves displaced from their homes at 650 Parliament Street due to a fire. Since then 650 Parliament tenants have lived with instability, uncertainty and frustration as they have moved between temporary housing, seen promised move-in dates get pushed further and further back and have been often left with more questions than answers about how they remain in this situation more than a year later.
Despite this, 650 Parliament residents have also shown themselves to be incredibly resilient, patient and thoughtful, using this tragedy to build new relationships both within their building and in the wider St. James Town Community. 650 Parliament is a microcosm of both Toronto's diversity and the strength of its communities, and I am proud to represent such an incredible neighbourhood.
The health and safety of Ward 13 residents is a top priority that I have been working tirelessly to address with City staff from all divisions at the City of Toronto. Toronto is in the midst of three major crises: housing crisis, mental health and addiction crisis, and an overdose crisis that has hit urban centres across North America, including our Downtown East neighbourhood.
Last night, businesses in the Church-Wellesley Village had their windows smashed in an act of vandalism that has left the community shaken. This follows on the heels of the community being targeted by preachers who have twice disrupted the Village and a series of letters, emails, and graffiti markings that appear to be motivated by, or linked to, Neo-Nazi ideology targeting community members and businesses.
Over the past few weeks, the Church-Wellesley Village has been the target of several hate messages delivered by email, regular mail, and graffiti. These are serious crimes and they appear to be motivated by, or linked to, Neo-Nazi ideology. I have met with the Toronto Police and they informed me that these incidents are being actively investigated.
Doug Ford is bringing back the Ontario Municipal Board, financially starving our cities, and selling our neighbourhoods to his developer friends. Today the Government of Ontario announced short-sighted changes to the Planning Act that will fail residents, sideline our communities, and cut the legs out from under Toronto's planning policies. These changes, if enacted, will not only turn back the clock on good local planning, it will set Toronto back decades.
This afternoon, the Provincial Government announced that they are cutting $1 billion to Toronto Public Health over the next 10 years, effective immediately. This announcement is a direct attack on Toronto. The provincial government funds approximately 72% of Toronto Public Health's operating budget. The current Ministry of Health & Long Term Care contribution to Toronto Public Health is approximately $147 million a year.
Reckless development approved by the unaccountable Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) have been an ongoing challenge for Toronto's low-rise commercial businesses and character neighbourhoods for decades. I have made it my priority to fight for affordable housing and community-responsive policies that support special character and historic areas. To date, I am proud to say that I've had four significant victories on these fronts.