COVID-19 Updates, Stadium Road Park Improvements - May 12th
Over the past two months, we all have learned to speak the language of public health. We talk about physical distancing and flattening the curve. We read about contact tracing and containing outbreaks. And we have adjusted our behaviour in record time to follow the guidelines that our experts have set to help us stay safe.
But as much as we have learned, an urgent lesson remains: how to shape our recovery plans to improve everyone’s health, including our most vulnerable.
Yesterday I shared an op-ed that I wrote for Spacing Magazine on the opportunity we now have, in the wake of COVID-19, to move forward as a healthy city and address the root causes of inequality that impact health outcomes.
Public health is preventative planning. The evidence has always been there. Now, we need decisionmakers to finally take the medicine.
In this Edition
- New Tools for Supporting Small Businesses
- Special Meeting of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee
- Stadium Road Park Improvements
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Head of the Office of Emergency Management
- Stay, Play & Learn at Home
- Arts At Home
- Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
- City Hall Live Online
- DonateTO: COVID-19 Portal to Support Pandemic Relief Efforts
- Staying Emotionally Healthy and Resilient During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Community and Social Supports for Torontonians
- Supporting Local Businesses
- Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 When Spending Time Outdoors
- Working Collaboratively for Spadina-Fort York
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
New Tools for Supporting Small Businesses
Our local, independent businesses and artists are the heart and soul of our city. We also know that they need help now more than ever. That’s why we have launched ShopHERE, a free service that helps businesses and artists create online stores, at: https://digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere/
Through ShopHERE, businesses can build and launch their own online store in a few short days. The program also provides training and support for businesses in digital marketing, shipping, and other elements of e-commerce, through volunteers from Toronto’s technology sector. Tech companies and professionals that are looking to lend their expertise to the program can sign up online.
To qualify for the program, a business must have fewer than 10 employees, or fewer than 25 employees if a restaurant or bar; pay commercial property taxes; and not be a chain or franchise. Eligible businesses and artists must be located in the City of Toronto.
An estimated 49,501 Toronto businesses, 7,371 of them restaurants, bars or cafes, are eligible for the ShopHERE program. The initial program is available now through the end of August.
Special Meeting of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee
Live music is a big part of what makes our city so special. As part of our ongoing work towards recovery, I've called a special meeting of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee for May 13, to discuss how we can best support our local music community.
The meeting will focus on a discussion of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the music community, and strategies to assist live music venues. Learn more and view the meeting agenda here.
Stadium Road Park Improvements
Improving our existing parks and green spaces is a critical step to creating a more liveable city. This has become more clear than ever, as many people rely on spending time outdoors in our parks and greenspaces for physical and mental health benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of this work, Parks, Forestry & Recreation has begun construction and improvements to Stadium Road North Park, which are expected to be complete by mid-summer 2020.
Park improvements include: trail improvement to address speed, bench seating and planting, a water bottle filler, planting of new trees, and upgraded railing and guardrails along the water’s edge. All existing trees will be retained and protected.
During this construction, Stadium Road Park North will be closed, and there will be no public access through the park. This will include no access at the south end of the recreational trail at the east side of HMCS York. Detour signage has been installed throughout the park, and as part of the City’s CurbTO initiative, the south side of Lake Shore Boulevard between Remembrance Drive and Stadium Road has been closed to provide a safe cycling detour and encourage physical distancing for pedestrians and cyclists.
Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Head of the Office of Emergency Management
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 shared that Toronto Public Health continues to receive questions about the health risk of acquiring COVID19 when an employee at a grocery store or other similar setting has the virus. She explained that because there is community spread of COVID-19, not all infections among store employees were acquired from their workplace. This virus continues to spread in many different locations in our city, but the highest risk is from close household contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to keep six feet away from others when they are outside and to wash your hands often. For local grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses, Dr. de Villa continues to recommend routine infection prevention and control practices. This includes regular cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Dr. de Villa also reminded everyone that easing our public health measures will continue to be a gradual process until we have a vaccine, or effective treatments for this virus. Until that time, physical distancing will be part of our everyday lives – in all settings. She also continues to recommend for everyone to stay within your household bubble, as it has come to be known, in order to reduce the likelihood of disease spread throughout our community. This has been the advice for several weeks and continues to be the best course of action in our city for now.
As we heard earlier this afternoon, the Province will be announcing details of phase one of its reopening plan on Thursday. As the province relaxes public health measures, we can expect to slowly return to enjoying some of the activities that we have missed in recent months. However, we will need to continue to avoid crowds and, unfortunately, large gatherings for the foreseeable future.
With the prospect of reopening it becomes that much more important for everyone to continue practising physical distancing. As Dr. de Villa shared last week, in situations where you are in close contact with others and physical distancing is difficult to maintain, she recommends for people to wear a cloth mask, or face covering to prevent the spread of your germs to others, even if you are not experiencing symptoms.
Read all of Dr. de Villa’s past statements here.
Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg
Today Chief Pegg shared that the Emergency Operations Centre has been continuously activated for over 60 days. He shared that the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Task Force has successfully implemented many proactive measures to ensure the stable supply of PPE in our city despite global supply chain issues, including a system to collect, store, and decontaminate used N95 respirators if that should become necessary.
Chief Pegg also shared that as of end of day yesterday, there had been no complaints received regarding the reopening of retail storefronts.
Read all of Chief Pegg’s statements here.
Stay, Play & Learn at Home
Looking for something new to try at home? The City has compiled a list of dozens of free recreation, exercise, and arts and culture activities for all ages.
You can tour a museum exhibit or watch a live concert, play interactive games and do DIY science experiments, try an exercise class or a new recipe, and even tune into a livecam of owls or build your own greenhouse. The listings are searchable by different age groups, with a number of activities for everyone. Click here to access it.
The list will be updated with new activities and links on a regular basis.
Arts At Home
Toronto’s world-renowned vitality is strengthened by its creative and diverse arts sector. In challenging times, the arts play a vital role in building personal and societal resilience. Arts@Home brings Toronto’s arts sector together for you – delivered straight to your home. 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. Visit artsathome.ca to learn 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.
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.
Since 2016, local artists have performed in Nathan Phillips Square as part of City Hall Live’s music series to provide paid performance opportunities for Toronto musicians across all genres. To date, City Hall Live has showcased more than 150 local artists, working with numerous Toronto music organizations, festivals, and events.
Under the necessary restrictions in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19, artists are taking their shows online. The series will run Monday through Friday, from 12 noon to 1 p.m., with two shows per day until the end of June. More than 100 local artists will be directly compensated for 30-minute performances from their homes, livestreamed via Facebook Live at facebook.com/City-Hall-Live-106149534367134.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant economic impact on Toronto residents and businesses, including the music community, in particular small venues and individual musicians. During each performance, viewers can choose to make a donation, 100 percent of which will support Unison's work to help musicians and music industry workers.
DonateTO: COVID-19 Portal to Support Pandemic Relief Efforts
Over the past month, Ward 10 residents have reached out to my office to ask how they can help with our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the City launched the DonateTO online portal, making it easy for businesses and residents to make direct donations of products, services, and funds in support of the City’s relief efforts.
Our ongoing response to the pandemic includes new efforts to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community, including isolated seniors and people experiencing homelesness. The City is currently working with a range of community partners to enhance much-needed services and supports.
Residents and businesses can help by contributing donations of personal protective equipment, non-perishable food, other goods and services, and financial gifts. Residents can also use the DonateTO portal to find out about volunteer opportunities in their community. Any questions about donations can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
In Toronto, we take care of each other. I want to recognize and thank all the Ward 10 residents who have been helping out their neighbours and our community during this difficult time, and all the frontline staff who are working tirelessly to support our City’s relief efforts.
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:
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
Call if you develop symptoms.
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.