News

Statement on Glen Road and Bin-Scarth Road Stop Signs

 

Speeding on Glen Road has been a problem for decades. Traffic studies done by the City of Toronto and the North Rosedale Residents Association (NRRA) show that of the 4,000 to 4,500 daily drivers on Glen Road, more than half travel above the 40 km/h speed limit, with approximately 15% travelling at or above 50 km/h. Residents rightly view speeding on Glen Road as a safety issue. Unfortunately, there has not been broad community agreement on how to address this problem.

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Update on Yonge/Molson/Macpherson Roadworks

The City's contractor is currently conducting road repairs at the Yonge/MacPherson intersection, as well as on MacPherson Avenue and Molson Avenue.  This project is to repair Enbridge utility cuts from a service line upgrade project that was recently concluded.

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Dundas Station Hours of Operation Advisory

As part of the TTC's implementation of new fare gates throughout all subway stations, Dundas Station will be bypassed starting at 11:00 p.m. nightly from Sunday, September 10 to Thursday, September 14. Regular service resumes daily at the start of normal morning operations (approximately 6:00 a.m.).

The station will be closed for the weekend September 16 to 17 and will re-open at 6 a.m. on September 18.

From September 18 until the middle of October, the station will close at 11 p.m.

Customers can access the Subway from Yonge Street at either College Street or Queen Street during the closure hours.

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MPAC Statement

Councillor Wong-Tam's Response to MPAC's Statement (August 31, 2017)

MPAC’s willingness to reassess the properties on Yonge Street is a welcome, but short-term solution. While MPAC states they did not consider re-development potential directly, their property valuation approach contradicts their statement. This is demonstrated by their omission of the area's full planning context in their original assessments and their insistence of starting every valuation with a highest and best use application which promotes unchecked development. Otherwise, how could they have missed the four critical planning documents that govern this portion of Yonge Street, namely, the Yonge Street Heritage Conservation District Plan, Area Specific Policy 174 and 382 and Official Plan Amendment 352 and Implementing Zoning By-laws?  

The necessary change in policy goes beyond MPAC.  The City must determine what kind of new classification makes sense for small, low-rise commercial buildings and then it will be up to the Province to accept that proposal and incorporate it into new law and practice for MPAC. I've created a working group with these exact stakeholders to do just this. We all need to work together to readdress the unfairness of the assessment process for the hardworking small business owners. It's the best way to keep help them and to keep our main streets vibrant. 

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Statement on the Moss Park Overdose Prevention Site

Yesterday, concerned harm reduction workers and activists opened an overdose prevention tent in Moss Park.  I cannot blame them.  Toronto has been facing an increasingly deadly opioid crisis and they are seeing their friends, colleagues and clients overdose on a daily basis.  Communities are suffering.  The response from governments has not been fast enough or sufficient to address this public health crisis.  My colleague, Councillor Joe Cressy, recently wrote in the Toronto Star​ about the need for an emergency response, and I completely agree.

The installation of Supervised Injection Services (SIS) in Toronto cannot come any sooner.  Toronto Public Health has moved as quickly as they can to address the increase in overdoses, through training and the distribution of Naloxone, but it still is not fast enough to respond to the emergency we are facing.  In the next month, they will begin distributing Naloxone to community agencies, so that those working with the most vulnerable will be trained and equipped with Naloxone, in order to respond to opioid overdoses.  The City of Toronto is expediting the Overdose Action Plan as quickly as it can, but a coordinated and sustained response with adequate resources must come from all three levels of government.

Research shows that a drug user will likely only travel about four city blocks for SIS and with only three opening in the city, it will not stop all of the deaths.  Stopping overdoses should not be our only response.  Outreach and harm reduction workers have expressed for years that the wait times for those seeking treatment is far too long and clients lapse back into drug use, putting them at further risk of death.  We need to have options available for people to live healthy lives, including mental health counselling, addiction treatment, affordable housing, and other supports.  

All governments must work together to break down the communication and operational silos that exist between publicly funded service providers. The structural service deficits that are further enabling the opioid crisis has to be addressed with coherent and centralized leadership, coordinating the collection and sharing of disaggregated data and swiftly implementing best practice solutions driven by harm reduction principles with measured and accountable outcomes to creating healthier communities.

Toronto downtown neighbourhoods are bearing the brunt of the opioid crisis.  This year alone, I have organized eight community safety walks in various neighbourhoods in Ward 27, in response to concerns about the impacts of drug activity, vandalism, street harassment and escalating violence.  Residents are seeing active drug trafficking and public use of harmful substances in the parks, laneways, stairwells, school yards, playgrounds, parking lots, community spaces and random streets.  Discarded needles are being found by community members and city workers by the hundreds each month.  Front line advocates are experiencing all-time high levels of post-traumatic disorder from the witnessing of people dying from drug overdoses.  The spirit-breaking social conditions caused by the opioid crisis are unacceptable.

A police-only response to drug use is not the answer.   Toronto Police Services could spend their days locking up drug-using individuals and still the “war on drugs” will not be won.  Instead, we will continue to see more overdoses, as drug users seek out more hidden, precarious places to use drugs, putting themselves, and possibly others at further risk.

While, I may not agree that the “pop-up Overdose Prevention Site” is the best use of our few downtown parks and have concerns about the legalities of this activity, I also do not want to see any more deaths.  A makeshift tent in Moss Park is not a suitable or permanent solution, but it is a response that is not unexpected considering all that is happening in the all-out efforts to save lives.

I have reached out to Mayor Tory, the Chairs of the Toronto Drug Strategy & Board of Health to work with them to expedite the opening of the Safe Injection Sites.  Community health centres and public health workers are already trained, Naloxone kits are in place and Toronto should be allowed to open the three federally-approved SIS sites today.  If harm reduction advocates are willing to legally expose themselves to save lives in Moss Park, then politicians can do the same.  

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Statement on Yonge Street Commercial Taxes

Yonge Street's small businesses are a vital part of Toronto's commercial mix. These shops and services are often run by locals, many of whom have owned their properties for generations. With a massive tax assessment increase this year, many of the businesses and owners are worried that they will have to close up shop or sell their properties to the highest bidder.

The Province depends on the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) to conduct regular reviews of property values across Ontario. The Current Value Assessment model (CVA) that they use looks at the market value of comparable sites to establish a given property's worth and taxes. The issue on Yonge Street, and other intensifying neighbourhoods, is that the comparable sites are increasingly sky scraper development properties. This means that owners who want to maintain low-rise properties and rent to small businesses are being taxed like developers. If unaddressed, this will force closures and sales that will further promote tall towers.

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Information on the New Ramsden Park Accessible Entrance at Hillsboro Avenue

The neighbourhoods surrounding Ramsden Park are densifying at a rapid pace.  This has introduced many new users to the park, making the current revitalization both necessary and timely. 

During the consultation process that lead up to the new park design, I spoke with many of you, who identified that the current access from Hillsboro Avenue is unsafe.  You also let me know that, as this park entrance is very well-used, upgrades addressing safety are vitally important.  The existing ramp does not meet current accessibility standards, as the slope is too steep; the existing staircase is also in poor condition and unsafe.  It is vitally important that residents, of all levels of ability, are able to enter and use the park safely.  This neighbourhood is home to a growing number of seniors and families. As such, the new Hillsboro entrance will feature a ramp that will allow easier access for residents with walkers, strollers, and mobility devices.  

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Nominations open for City's 2017 Access, Equity and Human Rights Award!

 

Every year, the City of Toronto's Access, Equity and Human Rights (AEHR) Awards recognize the achievements of people who, or programs that, made a difference in Toronto by working to eliminate discrimination or break down barriers to equality. The following categories are:

  • Aboriginal/Indigenous Affairs Award
  • Access Award for Disability Issues
  • Constance E. Hamilton Award for the advancement on the status of women
  • Pride Award for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Trans and 2-Spirit Issues
  • William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations

Award recipients will be recognized at a public event on the evening of December 4th, 2017 at Council Chambers, City Hall. Performances and a reception will follow the award ceremony.

Nominees must be Toronto residents, groups or programs. It is easy to submit a nomination with both online and mail-in options. More information, including past recipients, is available at http://toronto.ca/civicawards. The deadline for nominations is Thursday, August 31 at 4 p.m

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Statement on the Cases of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen

For Immediate Release

August 1, 2017

Statement on the Cases of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen

 

The disappearance of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen is worrying and I share in the community's ongoing concern for their wellbeing. Each of these men are friends and family to many and we are all praying for their safe return.

I was pleased to hear from Toronto ‎Police on Friday that there are dedicated officers working to solve the cases of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen. While no evidence has yet been found to connect any missing persons cases from the Village over the last seven years, members of the community are concerned and are looking for answers. These dedicated resources provide some assurance that the necessary work is being done. Along with the encouraging news that several missing persons cases have been solved, we are seeing better communication from the Police and hope that this carries forward.

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Nominations open for City's Aboriginal/Indigenous Affairs Award

Every year, the City of Toronto's Access, Equity and Human Rights (AEHR) Awards recognize the achievements of people who, or programs that, made a difference in Toronto by working to eliminate discrimination or break down barriers to equality. The Aboriginal/Indigenous Affairs Award – given to those whose volunteer efforts have improved the well-being and advancement of the Aboriginal/Indigenous community – is one of five AEHR awards (descriptions are attached):

  • Aboriginal/Indigenous Affairs Award
  • Access Award for Disability Issues
  • Constance E. Hamilton Award for the advancement on the status of women
  • Pride Award for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Trans and 2-Spirit Issues
  • William P. Hubbard Award for Race Relations
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