Today, the Mayor announced a new policy that will force all non-emergency utility work south of Dundas Street in the downtown to take place overnight. This decision was made without any consultation with local residents or Councillors – myself included. Our vibrant downtown neighbourhoods are home to many and we must work to make them more liveable, not less. There are over 240,000 residents who currently live in downtown Toronto and that number is expected to reach 500,000 in the next 25 years.
This policy change is insensitive to residents who live downtown. It is unacceptable to unilaterally make a decision of this nature without first consulting the community or local Councillors. Every day, we work to build a healthier, more liveable downtown – to provide the services, infrastructure and amenities that people need to call their neighbourhood home. I work with residents associations, community groups, business operators and constituents from across downtown make smart, informed decisions that will improve the lives of all inhabitants.
For years, I have heard about noise complaints from downtown residents. Noise levels have tremendous impact on quality of life. Together, we pushed for a complete review of the Noise By-Law, which is still under-way. Residents in the downtown deserve to be consulted and any policy changes that impact construction noise should be referred to the Noise By-Law review. Moving traffic should not be prioritized over the quality of life for residents living in our downtown.
Downtown Toronto is not a monolithic area that empties out after traditional work hours. Downtown Toronto is made up of dynamic, mixed-use neighbourhoods and vibrant main streets. While we support accelerating important infrastructure work, it cannot be at the expense of residents who live here. There needs to be an intelligent and strategic street-by-street approach to review where overnight work can take place, as well as meaningful consultation with community groups and residents who call downtown Toronto their home.
Letter re: Independent External Review into Systemic Concerns Related to Missing Persons Investigations
The following letter was submitted to members of the Toronto Police Services Board on March 21, 2018.
Dear Members of the Toronto Police Services Board,
Recent investigations into the alleged murder of LGBTQ2S community members, particularly those of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent, and missing persons cases have raised significant concerns. Comments that community members failed to provide police with essential information have raised tensions further. Many now believe that there are different standards of investigation for LGBTQ2S missing persons cases and this has eroded public trust in the Toronto Police Service and this is not without context.
There are longstanding and legitimate concerns from many impacted groups, including Black, Indigenous, trans, racialized, undocumented, and sex-worker communities. In 1981, 289 men were assaulted and arrested in the Toronto Police-led bathhouse raids for the "crime" of engaging in consensual sexual activity. The careers, families and lives of gay men were destroyed because of police discrimination and violence against a minority group. In 2000, the Toronto Police raided Pussy Palace, a women's bathhouse and again reminded us that this was a long-term struggle.
Police officers, many of them men, abused their authority when they barged into this women and trans women's only space where individuals were in various states of undress. The police claimed to be there to enforce and investigate a liquor license concern. In 2016, undercover officers laid 89 charges against men in a sting operation at Marie Curtis Park, even as the Toronto Police struggled to respond to the increase in opiate drug trafficking, a rise in shootings, and a spate of deadly pedestrian collisions. Again the "crime" was men having consensual sex with men.
These marks on our community and police force have not been forgotten. The Toronto Police – and not a single officer or the Police Chief of the day – has ever been held accountable for the 1981 and 2000 bathhouse raids. Even when recognizing these past harms, police leadership has never gone as far as issuing a full and explicit apology.
Having met with numerous LGBTQ2S agency leaders and residents in the Church-Wellesley Village area, I have heard clearly that accountability and transparency are needed now more than ever. I have ongoing discussions with the Mayor and LGBTQ2S community leaders, including The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP) on how trust can be rebuilt. These discussions have been productive and I believe that there is a way forward.
Yesterday, Mayor Tory's Executive Committee discussed a report on the City's Long-Term Financial Plan. Our city has grown substantially and the needs and interests of residents and businesses have grown concurrently over the past decade. The City of Toronto has responded by developing plans and strategies to ensure Toronto remains a livable, accessible and inclusive city for everyone, but City Council has not ensured the funding to implement these necessary services. A new model for budgeting and financial planning is long overdue.
Determining the priorities of a city and the methods and means to pay for the services and programmes, is not an easy task and requires City Council to dig deep and make smart decisions. This is not something we can put off for any longer as our infrastructure crumbles and Toronto becomes increasingly unaffordable for so many.
The options put forward by the City Manager will force City Council to cut services or reduce service levels, which are already insufficient in meeting resident needs, or develop new revenues to pay for a growing city. It will not be an easy decision for City Council, but it is one that cannot be delayed.
Which is exactly what Mayor Tory and his Executive Committee have chosen to do. Instead of governing, they have deferred these important decisions until the next term of Council. Please contact Mayor Tory to encourage him to bring the report to City Council next week. Let him know you believe City Council should debate this plan immediately and not delay this decision until after October's election.
Municipal Licensing & Standards (MLS) is hosting a consultation on proposed new interim rules for payday loan establishments.
The Province of Ontario governs payday lenders and alternative financial services such as cheque-cashing, instalment loans and rent-to-own services. Ontario Bill 59 (Putting Consumers First Act) now provides municipalities with tools to regulate payday lenders through business licensing. As of January 1, 2018, the City has authority to restrict the number and locations of payday loan establishments.
Proposed rules for consultation
New rules being considered are:
- creation of new business licence category for payday loan establishments
- placing a cap on the number of establishments in Toronto, and
- requirement that establishments be licensed by the Province prior to applying for a City-issued licence
This proposed interim approach will provide the City with a mechanism to mitigate the proliferation of these establishments while staff conduct a comprehensive review of the industry and develop final recommendations for regulation of payday loan establishments. The review will include continued research and broad public and stakeholder consultations to better understand the best approach for the City.
When: Wednesday, March 21st from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: North York Civic Centre, Committee Room 3
We invite the public and stakeholders to join us for a presentation on the topic and an opportunity to provide input. The input received at this consultation will inform a report on payday loan establishments to Licensing and Standards Committee on April 10, 2018. Materials from this meeting will be posted here.
Input and feedback can also be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information: Vanessa Fletcher, 8-3478, Vanessa.Fletcher@toronto.ca
Monday, March 12 to Friday, March 16 is March Break for elementary and high school students in Toronto. The City of Toronto is offering many free and affordable activities for students and their families all week that are fun for the whole family.
City of Toronto community centres offer free or low-cost programs for all ages. More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/rec or call 311.
Many outdoor artificial ice rinks are open until the end of the day on March 18, weather permitting. Locations, hours and program details are available at http://www.toronto.ca/skate.
Indoor leisure skating programs, including caregiver and tot, family skate and shinny, are free for all ages. Hockey helmets approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) are mandatory for children under six years of age and all shinny hockey participants, and are recommended for skaters of all ages. Schedules and locations are available at http://www.toronto.ca/skate.