Smart Cities Challenge: Innovation and the Indigenous District


Infrastructure Canada has announced a $50 million prize for Smart Cities Initiatives that will improve the liveability of cities.

We think that Indigenous District is the ideal, made-in-Toronto submission for this exciting competition. With one of the largest and fastest growing Indigenous populations in Canada, right here in Toronto, we have the opportunity to dramatically shift the urban conversation as it relates to reconciliation, entrepreneurship and social inclusion. We are currently developing a 16,000 square feet Indigenous business incubator in the Downtown East. This extraordinary initiative will be the catalyst for a future Indigenous District, soon to be an international visitor destination anchored with Indigenous cultural and entrepreneurial ingenuity both traditional and contemporary‎ in its pursuits. We will leverage and utilize data, technology and community strengths to uplift and bring Toronto another step closer to being a truly inclusive Smart City.

Supported by The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, the Indigenous Placemaking Council, and the Toronto Aboriginal Social Services Council.

We want your feedback and hope you can join us for a special presentation on January 25, 2018 from 2-4pm at MaRS Discovery District, Room CR3 to learn more about the Indigenous District and #SmartCityTO.



Councillors Wong-Tam, Cressy and Fletcher to host media availability on shelter crisis

January 16 2018

TORONTO – On Wednesday morning Councillors Joe Cressy (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale), and Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) will host a joint media availability to comment on the recently released open letter to City Councillors on the shelter crisis.

The Councillors will also speak specifically to the motions they are planning to move at that day's Community Development and Recreation Committee.

What: Media availability on shelter crisis open letter
Date: Wednesday January 17, 2018, 8:45am
Location: Outside Committee Room 1, Toronto City Hall (100 Queen Street West)
Who: Councillors Joe Cressy, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Paula Fletcher




Open Letter to Address Toronto's Shelter Crisis

I have been working with Councillors Cressy and Fletcher on finding a way forward to address the Toronto shelter crisis. Today we are pleased to announce that the support of key supporters including Mayor Tory, we will be advancing critical measures needed to stem the growing shelter demand. 

At the January 17, 2018 meeting of the Community Development and Recreation Committee, I will table a motion that will ask City Council to introduce many immediate actions including the creation of 1000 plus new permanent shelter beds into the system by the end of 2018 and to extend the winter emergency measures beyond their original closing of April 15 until these beds are officially in operation.

The shelter crisis has shown City Council that it is imperative that we work together to ensure that our shelter system provides a safe, stable place that all residents can access when needed.

Read more →

Join me for my Budget Town Hall on Gender Responsive Budgeting

Join us on January 18, 2018 for Councillor Wong-Tam's Town Hall on Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB). The evening will feature a fireside chat with Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau, expert panelists and facilitated round-table discussions on how Toronto can improve programs and services needed to build a more inclusive city. Please RSVP here.

Childminding and ASL interpretation will be available. If you expect to need childminding, please email Councillor Wong-Tam's office at councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca.

In 2017, Councillor Wong-Tam hosted Toronto's first public forum on Gender-Responsive Budgeting (GRB). We discussed the many benefits of incorporating an intersectional gender equity lens when developing city budgets.

By placing a gender equity lens over the city budgets, we can ensure resources are more fairly allocated to serve ALL residents. Better budgets equal better services.

The truth is, despite the many commitments to equity, Toronto City Council has never adopted a woman-friendly budget. The waitlists for accessible childcare, recreation services, shelter supports, affordable housing and other essential services continue to grow.

C2kpUHPWQAIFTY3.jpgCommunity members gather for Councillor Wong-Tam's first ever Town Hall on Gender Responsive Budgeting in 2017. 

Cities across the world have created different forms of gender-responsive budgeting with the purpose of advancing gender equity. Even the 2016 federal budget contained a historic Gender Statement outlining the main challenges and economic inequalities facing Canadian women.

It's time for Toronto City Council to put talk into action.

Councillor Wong-Tam is working closely with diverse community advocates from across Toronto to ensure the city incorporates an intersectional gender equity framework over its budgets. This framework analyses the social, cultural and economic identities different women and men face and seek to redress disparities through careful allocation of public resources.

Gender-responsive budgeting encourage decision-makers to think about the multiple ways both men and women experience city services, which include municipal policy areas such as transit, housing, capital spending on roads and infrastructure, taxes and user fees.

It is important that we have fair access to the city budgets. Let's work together to build a Toronto where everyone can prosper and thrive.

Toronto needs to open the armouries and 1000 new permanent shelter beds

Almost a month after my motion asking to open the federal armouries to shelter the homeless was defeated, I'm happy to know Mayor Tory has reconsidered his position on the Moss Park Armoury. We've lost time and now need to work fast to get this done.

Opening the Exhibition Place’s Better Living Centre to homeless for winter respite is a step in a good direction but it still falls short of a permanent solution. Toronto needs to open the armouries and 1000 new permanent shelter beds.

City staff have been working hard to deliver the temporary fix of adding 400 spaces with more hotel beds, wedging more beds into existing crowded spaces and now using the cavernous Better Living Centre. This is commendable but a flawed plan nevertheless. Every year activists force City Council to do more to help the homeless and to elevate the overcrowded shelter system. From the 24-hr women's drop-in centres, to the warming and winter respite centres. Each time it's been community pressure that got results.

I think that are good people on every side of this discussion and although work is being done, I agree with street nurse and activist Cathy Crowe, Sistering and many others that the band-aid solutions are dangerous and not enough. Ward 27 has 25% of the permanent shelter beds in the systems (not counting hotel beds) and my community says they need help. The front line workers, managers, clients and the neighbourhoods that host shelter services are looking to City Hall for workable and real solutions.

I have spoken to front line workers from city-operated shelters who are burnt out and extremely demoralized. They don't want to turn people away but have to because their shelters are full. Then they can't refer people to another shelter because everyone else is full. Every category of shelters is above the 90% occupancy. It's misleading to count the 1352 hotel beds as a part of the permanent shelter system. Subtracting that from the real permanent beds then the shelter system only has 4117 beds. Far short of the 5387 beds needed last night.


To make up 400 "new shelter spaces" created in the Mayor's plan, staff will be adding another 200 hotel beds and counting them again as new "shelter beds." When politicians boast about adding 1000 new shelter beds last year to the system, this is how they do it. With hotel beds.

To relieve the overcrowded system staff are adding more winter respite centres. Let me be clear, these shouldn't be counted as new permanent shelter beds. They don't meet the standards. Like the volunteer-run, temporary Out of the Cold program, by April they'll be shut down.

The rise of homelessness in Toronto is a crisis. Even if one is unwilling to declare an emergency, we are in big trouble and trends are confirming it. Open the armouries and let's commit to create 1000 new and real shelter beds in 2018. Lives are depending on it.


After we open the Armouries, we need to create 1000 new permanent shelter beds in 2018. When the Out of the Cold programs and winter respite centres close in April, an even bigger shelter crisis is before us.