Councillor Wong-Tam's Statement on Member Motion 31.21 "Promoting Diversity and Social Inclusion by establishing Intersectionality Awareness Week in the City of Toronto"
In recent years, Torontonians have shifted to a more nuanced conversation about social justice that moves beyond multiculturalism and accounts for multiple forms of structural oppression including colonialism, racism, anti-Black racism, sexism and misogyny.
In the context of this shift, City Staff have tabled reports containing concrete recommendations, such as The Interim Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism and Towards an Action Plan for Transgender Youth.
During the recent budget deliberations, City Council directed Toronto's City Manager to create an “Intersectional Gender-Based Framework to Assess Budgetary Impacts,” in next year's budget.
At the same time, there have been deeply troubling City Council discussion about the notion of Sanctuary City. The vote to defund Pride Toronto was also the catalyst that magnified the need for City Council to delve deeper into the issues of identity, belonging and justice.
A dynamic young, LGBTQ2S+ racialized woman working with my office proposed the creation of an Intersectionality Awareness Week. She diligently did her research and with the input of my office staff, drafted a motion which was wholeheartedly endorsed.
Over the weekend, I was able to connect with Dr. Kimberlé Crenshaw, the Black feminist legal scholar who first coined the term "intersectionality" about the Toronto motion to create an Intersectionality Awareness Week. She described it as, "incredibly exciting news" and was invited to amend the motion to better reflect her work. The hope was that if the motion was adopted, City Council could partner with local universities to bring Dr. Crenshaw to Toronto to launch the initiative and create broader community engagement, programming and participation in the conversation.
As we move forward, hopefully this conversation continues to grow. The motion was never intended to absolve Toronto City Council or any of its agencies of its institutional racism, sexism or bias. On the contrary, if the perception of such a motion deters that work, then consider it withdrawn.
Toronto City Council has a long way to go counter systemic discrimination in how our city develops policy and budgets. It is what I have spent the past 7 years as a City Councillor, working to address. This motion could have been a first step to help City Council and City staff better understand the experiences that shape the lives of Black, Indigenous, and other racialized individuals in Toronto, and further shift the conversation.
The intention of the motion, which was to advance the discourse about intersectionality and a deeper understanding of who the residents of Toronto are, will ultimately help the City build better policies, programs and services to address their needs, especially those most marginalized.
The paths to true justice are bigger than any one of us and yet require all of us. There's no one perfectly timed effort but rather an accumulation of all our voices, hardwork and commitments. This is something that we can all agree upon, with or without a council motion.
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The provincial government has tabled a bill that will reform the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), with the stated goal of empowering municipalities. As a long-time critic of the OMB, the proposed reforms fail to give Toronto the deference and responsibility it deserves.
In 2012, I helped lead a push to remove Toronto from the purview of the OMB. My goal has not changed. The OMB frustrates residents, planning staff, and local councillors. It issues unaccountable decisions, sets undesirable precedents and drives land speculation and applications for inappropriate development onto unsuitable sites.
The reforms rename the OMB as the “Local Planning Appeal Tribunal” whose members will be appointed by the provincial government in a similar manner, with only one tribunal member required to make decisions, just as the OMB functions today. This new tribunal appeals to be "local" in name only. The problematic language in the Planning Act that directs OMB members to “have regard to” the decisions of municipal councils would also permit the tribunal to continue giving little to no weight to the decisions of City Council.
Furthermore, all applications for zoning by-law amendments and most applications for official plan amendments remain appealable. While Council would be given the opportunity to make a new decision, the tribunal is still given the opportunity on a second appeal to craft a new decision without deference to City Council, even when supported by professional planning reports.
Toronto has a professional and sophisticated planning department that deals with thousands of planning applications. We don't need the current OMB and we certainly don't need an OMB-lite that allows a single unelected tribunal member to upend the work of residents, planning staff and local government when responding to an application.
If the City must be saddled with an unelected tribunal, then quorum at a tribunal hearing should require a minimum of three members. In addition, the standard of review should be reasonableness. If the city makes a reasonable decision that is consistent with a policy statements issued under the Planning Act, conforms with or does not conflict with a provincial plan and conforms with our official plan, then no appeal should be allowed.
This is a 100-year opportunity to see real fixes to our land use planning policies in Toronto and Ontario. I urge, the Province to enact real legislative change, and not merely tinker with or simply rename the OMB.
From May 29 through June 4 we celebrate Trails Week! Toronto has over 600km of natural and multi-use trails for residents to explore and enjoy. Our trails system not only provides residents with recreational benefits but they also greatly contribute to the quality of life we enjoy, a quality of life envied around the world. Learn more about our great trail system and get out and hike a new trail: Toronto.ca/trails
Toronto Fire Services will be hosting a Safe Seniors' Symposiums as one component of their Seniors' Safety Awareness Month outreach activities this June. The Symposium will focus on Presentations and Information Displays pertaining to the ongoing safety of older adults in Toronto.
Details for the June 7 session is as follows:
Registration remains open! Please register by responding to the Public Education Division Email Address : email@example.com and include:
Participant First Name Participant Last Name Symposium to Attend (June 7)