I want to thank everyone who has reached out to my office speaking up for those who are unhoused and living outside in encampments through this pandemic, and most recently in response to the injunction application last Friday. I share your outrage that a year into the pandemic we still have people sleeping outdoors.
Late last week, the Province of Ontario announced extending the stay-at-home order for Toronto and Peel regions. This came as a response to Dr. de Villa’s request to maintain the current restrictions in Toronto. I know this is disappointing and yet not unexpected. There continues to be a rise in variant case counts in the city and to further open up businesses could undo our public health efforts. Current Federal data modelling shows that new variants could fuel a surge of 20,000 cases around the country by March. There is still a very real threat of a third wave. I urge each and every one of us to take every precaution possible to stop the spread of COVID-19. Please limit trips outside of your home unless absolutely necessary, and continue practicing physical distancing. If you are able, please wear a mask when travelling outside of your home. I know this is challenging, but these are the tools that we have are our disposal and they have proven effective in controlling community spread.
On January 14, 2021, the Province of Ontario began the illegal demolition of the Dominion Foundry Buildings at 153-185 Eastern Avenue in the West Don Lands. These four 100+ year old buildings represent the largest heritage asset in the area as well as the history of the Canadian national railway industry.
On February 17, the Federal Government introduced new legislation that would permit cities to ban handguns — with bylaws that restrict their possession, storage and transportation. While I strongly support actions to reduce the opportunity for dangerous and vulnerable people to access handguns, it has not been demonstrated that a municipal handgun ban would meaningfully address the problem of gun violence.
This morning, Toronto Fire Services were called to Orphan’s Green Park, near Adelaide Street E and Power Street in Corktown, responding to a fire at an encampment in the park. Unfortunately, one person was found deceased on site. When I spoke to Toronto Fire’s Acting Chief Jessop, he advised that the fire burned so quickly that there wasn’t much the firefighters could do. The Fire Marshall has been called to investigate this tragedy.
While Toronto will move to the Grey-Lockdown zone in the Province’s colour-coded framework beginning February 22, the rest of the public health regions move into the framework today. I must reiterate how important it is to continue practicing the public health guidelines set in place by Toronto Public Health. While Premier Ford presses for reopening, he ignores the health outcomes which await us without careful consideration.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Toronto has been working hard to protect individuals in the shelter system by creating physical distance to meet the public health protocols.
Yesterday, the Premier announced that on February 22, Toronto will return to the colour-coded Provincial COVID-19 framework and begin re-opening. There are more cases today than there were in March 2020, and now there are several cases of COVID-19 variants in the city. As the Province gradually opens up once more, I urge every Torontonian to keep up to date through the Toronto Public Health dashboard and follow the advice of Dr. de Villa. I know how eager we all are to return to our regular lives, but we’ve seen this cycle before. The Province starts to open up again and the case counts rise. Please consider how you can make your trips outside of your home safer as there is still a great risk in Toronto. Please continue to practice physical distancing, stay home and if you can, wear a mask. Without caution, we will be trapped in a perpetual cycle of closing and re-opening.
Despite the substantial effort by the City and residents, the threat of COVID-19 continues, with new strains and outbreaks occurring. It remains essential that we provide physical distancing and supports for the City’s most vulnerable residents. The City of Toronto continues to implement its three-tiered approach to strengthening prevention against COVID-19 in the City’s emergency shelter system.
Late last night on February 2, Toronto Police were called to a parking lot on Oak Street, between Sackville Street and Sumach Street, in Regent Park. Police officers located three male victims with serious injuries. There is an ongoing investigation from Toronto Police Services and anyone with information is asked to contact Toronto Police Service - 51 Division at 416-808-5100 or Toronto Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477 (TIPS).
Yesterday, Dr. de Villa announced that we have begun to see that the public health safety measures and the actions we continue to take as individuals are working. While case counts continue to be high, we know these measures are helping stop the spread of COVID-19.
I am pleased to share the good news that today, Justice David L. Corbett granted interim relief to stay the decision of the Government of Ontario to demolish the heritage buildings at the Dominion Foundry Complex in the West Don Lands. Demolition began two weeks ago on the four 100+ year old heritage buildings. Collectively, they are the largest concentration of heritage assets in the West Don Lands and are representative of Canada’s industrial railway history. This demolition began without community consultation and without any formal notice to the City.
Yesterday marked the anniversary of the first COVID-19 case in Ontario. It is overwhelming to think that we have been living with this pandemic for a year, and we are still waiting to return back to normal. Last week, Dr. de Villa reported that for the first time in many months, Toronto’s reproduction rate was below 1%. While there is not enough data to confirm a trend, it is the beginning of an advantage over this virus. In order to make this a trend, we must continue to strengthen our resolve and follow public health guidelines. Please continue to practice physical distancing, only taking essential trips and when you do leave your home, if you’re able, wear a mask.
Yesterday, the City’s Legal Services provided me an update on the new interim stop-work injunction filed at the Ontario Divisional Court to prevent the further demolition of four buildings at Dominion Foundry Complex. This request follows the sudden demolition work that began at the provincially-owned Dominion Foundry site 12 days ago without honest answers from the Province on who is their select developer and what exactly is their development plan.
I have received a report that the Deputy Chief of Community Risk Reduction at Toronto Fire has issued orders for both properties at 238-240 Berkeley Street to be shut down immediately, effective January 21, 2021.