COVID-19 Updates, Bathurst Bridge Construction - May 22nd

Dear friends,

It's a beautiful day, and I know many of us are itching to spend time outdoors this weekend. It's been a long winter and now that spring is here, we want to enjoy it — and we can, as long as we actively practice physical distancing by staying 6 feet (2 metres) apart from others.

I know we want to hang out and enjoy our parks and green spaces across the city, including Trinity Bellwoods. But this only works if we're committed to staying apart while outside. We are not "back to normal." We're still fighting a pandemic, and we need to stay vigilant. When spending time outside this weekend, we must continue to only socialize with members of our own household. 

Getting outside to exercise, play, and explore is good for our mental and physical health. But stay safe while you do: wash hands thoroughly and often, don't share food or drinks, and wear a cloth mask if you can. But most importantly: stay 6 feet apart. There's no substitute for physical distancing.

We all still have a role to play. Let’s continue to work together to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. 

Lastly, I’d like to extend best wishes to everyone celebrating Eid al-Fitr this weekend, marking the end Ramadan. Although this year's Eid al-Fitr will be different than usual, I hope everyone is able to find creative ways to stay connected with family and friends virtually and by phone. 

 

Have a great weekend, 

Joe


In this Edition

  1. Expanding Toronto’s Cycling Grid
  2. Local Nurses to Support Toronto Public Health Staff in COVID-19 Response Work
  3. Bathurst Construction Update: Bridge Work Begins on Monday  
  4. Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
  5. Lake Ontario Water Levels and Flood Mitigation Update
  6. Supporting Toronto’s Arts and Cultural Sector
  7. Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
  8. Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  9. Community and Social Supports for Torontonians 
  10. Supporting Local Businesses
  11. Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
  12. Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
  13. COVID-19 Information and Resources

Expanding Toronto’s Cycling Grid

On the weekend, Toronto residents took to the streets. With sections of Lake Shore Blvd. W. and Bayview Ave. temporarily closed to drivers, thousands of people on bikes safely enjoyed the open road, with enough space to physically distance from others.

Opening the streets to cyclists also made more room for pedestrians and people who use mobility devices along our sidewalks and trails. It was a beautiful day, and a sign of what our city could look like as we work to adapt to a new normal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered nearly everything about our lives and our city, including how we think about public space. As we begin to transition to recovery in Toronto and more businesses and workplaces open back up, how we get around presents a pressing challenge. The TTC has confirmed that for subways, streetcars, and buses to be safe, capacity has to remain at around 30 percent of regular ridership.

So how will the other 70 percent of transit riders get to work or run errands? Switching to driving isn’t an option for all — many people don’t have a car, and even if they did, the resulting gridlock would grind traffic to a halt.

We need to redesign our streets to make it easier for residents and front-line workers to cycle to work and practice physical distancing. Earlier this week I published a joint op-ed in the Toronto Star with Councillor Layton on how creating new cycling infrastructure is more essential to our health and safety than ever before. 

The expansion of bike lanes along major corridors like Bloor St. and University Ave. is something we’ve advocated for alongside community groups and residents for years.

Not only will expanding the cycling grid make streets safer for cyclists, increasing the number of people who ride bikes means that Torontonians who get around by taking transit or walking will have more space to do so safely. 

Remember, it took us nearly 50 years of studies and advocacy to build 2.4 kilometres of bike lanes on Bloor St. Right now, we don’t have that kind of time. When it comes to the cycling grid, we need to build it now, and build it right. Our health depends on it.

Read the full op-ed here.


Local Nurses to Support Toronto Public Health Staff in COVID-19 Response Work

As we continue to move forward in our fight against COVID-19, we need all hands on deck. That's why Toronto Public Health (TPH) announced a new partnership with the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), to hire local nurses to help with COVID-19 case and contact tracing and public health work. 

Through its COVID-19 VIA Nurse Program, RANO is actively recruiting registered nurses to join the TPH team for the next three months to support case and contact tracing, which is a key part of containing COVID-19. When someone tests positive for the virus in Toronto, all their close contacts must be quickly notified and instructed to self-isolate immediately for 14 days to prevent further transmission. 

While we move forward towards recovery, we must stay vigilant and prepared for new potential outbreaks. This important partnership will help to ensure that the team at Toronto Public Health is able to continue this critical life-saving work. I want to thank the RNAO and all our local nurses for their support in protecting our city and keeping us all safe. 


Bathurst Construction Update: Bridge Work Begins on Monday  

Earlier this month, I shared information about construction and maintenance projects scheduled for Bathurst Street. Work on the Bathurst Street Bridge Rehabilitation project will now begin this Monday, May 25. 

This means that starting at 5 a.m. on Monday, Bathurst Street from Front Street West to Fort York Boulevard will be closed to all vehicles. This closure will continue while work on the bridge is ongoing. 

Pedestrians will continue to have access through one sidewalk, and cyclists may dismount and walk their bikes on the sidewalk in this stretch. Pedestrians and cyclists can also cross the rail corridor on the nearby Puente de Luz Bridge at Dan Leckie/Portland, and the new Garrison Crossing Bridges at Fort York.

TTC service on Bathurst Street will be provided by buses, which will divert to Spadina Avenue to cross the rail corridor before returning to the regular route.

The full construction notice, as well as information about other projects in the area, is available here


Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health 

Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and other City division leaders have been providing daily updates on the current situation and response to COVID-19 in Toronto. You can view the daily press conferences live at 3:45pm, and access past updates here

Update from Dr. Eileen de Villa

Today Dr. de Villa spoke about the increase in local case numbers over the last three days. She said it is important to remember that due to the time it takes to develop symptoms, get tested, and have those results reported to public health, any data reported today can reflect transmission from as long as two weeks ago, or more. 

With this increase in new cases, Toronto Public Health’s data suggests that people may have spread the virus during recent events where people traditionally spend time with their families, like Mother's Day.

Toronto Public Health will continue monitoring our data to see if events like this, or an increased mixing of people related to the reopening of businesses and public amenities, is creating more COVID-19 transmission in our city. 

It is important that we all continue to practise physical distancing, and not gather with people outside our immediate households at this time. We know this is difficult, and that everyone has made personal sacrifices over the past several weeks. But we must stay the course so we can get to a point where we can connect safely in person with our friends and loved ones sooner. 

Read Dr. de Villa’s full update here.

Read Dr. de Villa’s past updates here.


Lake Ontario Water Levels and Flood Mitigation Update

As of May 21, authorities from the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board continue to forecast peak lake levels well below what we experienced in 2017 and 2019.

After Lake Ontario was spared heavy precipitation from a massive storm that ended at the east end of Lake Erie, water levels declined slightly this past week. Lake Ontario has likely peaked, and levels are expected to continue slowly declining in the coming weeks.

The City will continue to work on flood mitigation projects on Toronto Islands and the waterfront to ensure long-term protection is in place for this season and future years. Emergency management plans are in place if extreme weather patterns develop that result in new flood conditions. If this occurs, emergency teams will immediately work to assess impacts and implement flood mitigation plans. This work will take place alongside the Emergency Operation Centre's ongoing efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Supporting Toronto’s Arts and Cultural Sector

Our vibrant arts and cultural sector is critical to the fabric of our city. There are many ways to continue to support Toronto arts and culture from home:

  • City Hall Live Online: To help support Toronto artists and lift the spirits of residents during this outbreak, the City of Toronto, in partnership with Unison Benevolent Fund, has moved its City Hall Live performance program online. 
  • Arts@Home: Bringing Toronto’s arts sector together for you, delivered straight to your couch. Many of Toronto’s leading arts organizations are reaching beyond traditional practice to come together and freely share digital content that brings the arts into your home. 
  • Stay, Play & Learn at Home: Tour a museum exhibit, watch a live concert, play interactive games, do DIY science experiments, try a new recipe, and much more.

City of Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map

The City of Toronto has created a COVID-19 Essential Service Mapping Tool

This tool has up-to-date service listings across Toronto, including food banks, meal delivery programs, community health services and more. Additional layers and details are being updated daily by 211 Toronto. 


Advice from Toronto Public Health – Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic 

We’ve all had to endure a great deal of change over these last couple of weeks – from practicing physical distancing, to working from home, to caring for children home from school, to keeping a distance from our elderly family members and friends – it’s an adjustment, and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to not feel okay. But through all of this, it’s important to remember that we’re all in this together. 

It’s also important for all of us to remember to care for our own mental health during this time. In previous updates I shared tips and resources from Toronto Public Health on staying emotionally healthy and resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please click here to view and share. 


Community and Social Supports for Torontonians 

Although many places across Toronto have been closed due to physical distancing measures, there are still social services supports available for residents in need. Through 211, operators can connect residents to income supports, distress lines, and mental health supports to name a few. Call 211, text 21166, or live chat with 211 agents Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., or visit 211toronto.ca to search for services.

A City-Community Response Table meets daily and includes representatives from more than 30 agencies across Toronto and 11 City divisions. This group is working together to identify new and emerging issues affecting vulnerable Torontonians during the COVID-19 emergency and to plan city-wide responses to address and resolve these issues. 

Residents who need to access, or are seeking information on, social and community supports and services, should call 211 for non-emergency requests and information. 211 is a 24/7 help line and web service that connects residents to social and community services.

211 is working closely with community agencies to ensure they are continually updating their database with the most up-to-date programming and resource information.


Supporting Local Businesses

Our small and independent businesses are vital to the fabric of our city, and it’s critical that we support them as much as possible during these difficult and uncertain times. Here are some ways we can all do our part:

  • Shop local: although businesses have had to close their doors to the public to allow for physical distancing, many are still offering takeout and delivery options. Many local fitness studios and gyms are offering online classes. Some businesses that provide in-person services are offering pre-booking and gift cards for future use. Contact your favourite local business to see how you can support them during this challenging time. 
  • Donate through distantly.ca: the City of Toronto is highlighting the launch of an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform allows customers to continue to support local main street businesses impacted by non-essential closures, such as coffee shops, restaurants and hair salons. Visit distantly.ca to learn more and donate. 
  • Participate in #TakeOutDay: a Canada-wide campaign, #TakeOutDay is now every Wednesday as a show of support for our favourite local restaurants. Restaurants are doing their part by staying open for takeout. Now it's your turn to take an active part in support of an industry that employs millions of people across our country. Let's make Wednesdays #TakeoutDay. Learn more at canadatakeout.com

Advice from Toronto Public Health on Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors

Now that the warmer weather is arriving, many people are spending time outdoors for physical and mental health. 

When spending time outdoors, refer to this information from Toronto Public Health; 

  • COVID-19 spreads through contact with respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking
  • Droplets can spread up to 6 feet (2 metres) so close, prolonged contact poses the highest risk
  • When cycling, running, or walking, step aside or pass others quickly and courteously
  • The risk for catching COVID-19 while passing someone is low

If sick, you must stay home and self-isolate

  • People are most contagious when they are sick, or 48 hours before they show symptoms
  • Limit contact with other household members
  • Refer to fact sheets on how to self-isolate

Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York

The rapidly-evolving COVID-19 response requires all levels of government to work closely together. 

I am in regular contact with my Provincial and Federal counterparts regarding the evolving COVID-19 response and how to best support Spadina-Fort York residents, businesses, institutions, and organizations.

Please visit their websites for more information on the Provincial and Federal responses:

MPP Chris Glover
MP Adam Vaughan


COVID-19 Information and Resources

Now is not the time for panic or misinformation. Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Please visit the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for the up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19

Government COVID-19 websites

City of Toronto
Province of Ontario
Government of Canada

Telehealth Ontario
Call if you develop symptoms.
Telephone: 1-866-797-0000

Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Telephone: 416-338-7600
TTY: 416-392-0658
Email: PublicHealth@toronto.ca

311 Toronto
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.
Telephone: 311
TTY: 416-338-0889