This morning it was heartbreaking to learn of a three-alarm fire and full evacuation at 96 Gerrard Street East, the Neill-Wycik Co-operative College, a long established student housing co-op. Toronto Fire Services (TFS) has been on site since midnight and they have assured me along with the co-op’s board president that everyone is safe and accounted for now. The Office of Emergency Management has been activated and they are working alongside the Red Cross and TFS to monitor the situation, and will continue to provide emergency support. I have conveyed my personal expectations and offers of support from the City directly to the President of the co-op board.
Late on Friday, we learned that the Government of Ontario issued a series of Minister's Zoning Orders (MZOs) affecting three sites in the West Don Lands: 373 Front Street East and 90 Mill Street (Blocks 3, 4 and 7), 125 and 125R Mill Street (Block 20) and 153 to 185 Eastern Avenue (Blocks 17 and 26). These MZOs were issued without notification to City Planning or the local Councillors offices, and were discovered by chance by a member of City Planning. The Province did not provide information about their implementation to either the City nor to City staff prior to them coming into force.
I am angered and saddened to hear that yesterday there was a reported sixth incident at Masjid Toronto, located on Adelaide Street in downtown Toronto over a three month period.
This series of described hate crimes have included break-in attempts, broken windows and racist graffiti on their walls and windows. I stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and condemn these Islamophobic acts against Masjid Toronto. We must stand together against all forms of racism and bigotry.
I am heartened by the thousands of emails I have gotten about the Toronto Police Service, and their sizable impact on the City budget, and continue to get about these important matters.
Like you I recognize that many of the impediments to community safety will not be solved by the police. Too many people are unable to access the life-saving resources they need to thrive, while growing affordability, mental health and addictions crises are having massive health and safety impacts.
On Sunday I was distressed to learn about a fire at the Ontario Street Parkette in Cabbagetown South. Unfortunately, the fire damage was extensive, and the entire playground has been destroyed. As a parent standing in front of the scorched equipment on Monday, the situation was painful to assess in person.
As some of you will remember, this isn’t the first time the local parkette has been vandalized this way. As the new Councillor who assumed responsibility of this neighbourhood in 2018 after the ward boundaries expanded, I am informed that on two prior occasions, police and firefighters responded to a similar call about a fire at the same playground, the last time being early 2016.
As many of you are aware, Ward 13 - Toronto Centre, is the heart of Toronto’s downtown. We are home to some of Canada’s most iconic business districts and small businesses, from Canada’s largest gay village to the Financial District, to the re-invigorated historical districts such as Yonge Street, Corktown, St Lawrence Market and more.
According to the recent Save Small Business survey, 70% of small businesses will default on their commercial rent in May as a result of the impacts of COVID-19. These numbers are confirmed in a local survey conducted by businesses in the Corktown neighbourhood. They have seen that the mandatory provincial shutdown for non-essential businesses has led to greater than an 80% loss in revenue for 80% of businesses in Corktown.
Yesterday the Government of Canada announced their COVID-19 economic response plan. For those who will qualify, this includes Emergency Care Benefit, Universal EI sickness benefits for COVID-19, ten percent wage supplement for small business owners, deferred student student loan payments for six months, GST credit increase, and a boost in Canada Child Benefits. I commend the Federal Government for providing some much needed relief for residents and I am grateful that this first round of emergency funding was announced so quickly as it helps to alleviate some fears.
Following the advice of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, my staff and I will be working remotely until instructed otherwise. Please email me at [email protected] or call 416-392-7903. We are checking the phones & returning messages regularly.
If you have a meeting scheduled with us, we will work with you to postpone or move to video or conference calls. We are working with city staff to postpone or move public consultations online.
The COVID-19 situation continues to be incredibly fluid, and is changing rapidly.
I know residents across Toronto and Canada are concerned. Watching the unfolding global crisis closely, I share your concerns, especially the impact to those who are already living precariously housed, under-waged and financially marginalized in the most expensive city in Canada.
I think it is important we are honest about the glaring gaps in our social safety net that COVID-19 have made evermore evidently clear. In times of deep grieving after the Quebec City mosque shooting, Humboldt bus crash or the Van Attack, we have taken great pride in how Canadians take care of one another in times of need. This remains the case but we now need all governments to rise to the challenge and expectations of our citizens, who have worked hard, saved what they can, to now find themselves days or weeks away from the verge of financial collapse.
There has been some confusion over the recent news regarding the ONE Properties application at the north-west corner of Church and Wellesley in the Village.
To date, City Council, City Planning Staff and I have never supported the various development applications from ONE Properties. However, this has not deterred them from submitting yet again another application for the City’s review, even if their prior applications have been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board or OMB, now called LPAT or the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. This is the provincially appointed, quasi-judicial body that has final approval over land-use planning matters in Ontario and has routinely overturned local City Council decisions.