COVID-19 Updates, Quayside Statement - May 8th
COVID-19 has exposed many of our city’s challenges, including poverty, inequality, and the need to invest in public health measures. With these challenges, however, comes an important opportunity.
Now that everyone is listening when we talk about the social determinants of health, we need to seize this moment.
As we plan for the recovery phase of this pandemic, I won’t stop fighting to ensure that we build a healthier, stronger, and more equal Toronto.
Let’s get it done together.
In this Edition
- Special Board of Health Meeting
- City to provide Personal Protective Equipment to Community Agencies to Protect our Most Vulnerable
- City Guidelines for Retail Stores Reopening for Pickup and Delivery
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Head of the Office of Emergency Management
- Statement on the Future of Quayside
- Lake Ontario Water Levels and Flood Mitigation Update
- Arts At Home
- Upcoming City Construction on Bathurst Street
- 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
Special Board of Health Meeting
As the Chair of the Board of Health, I called a special meeting yesterday to address the City of Toronto’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to transition towards recovery planning.
This special meeting built on the important work that Board of Health members have undertaken throughout the COVID-19 response, by offering advice, raising issues from communities, and amplifying the public health recommendations from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. de Villa.
In addition to short presentations by Dr. de Villa and City staff, the Board considered a number of motions to address both the continued response work required, as well as preparations for recovery and eventual restart. Living with the reality of COVID-19 and the threat of potential future outbreaks, the Board considers all recovery measures through a public health lens.
A number of approved motions focus on the City’s actions for recovery planning. As part of the recovery approach, it is requested that the Medical Officer of Health focus on the following issues:
- Increase public space for physical distancing and improvements to road safety
- Explore permanent housing solutions for people experiencing homelessness, including supportive housing
- Guidelines for safe operation of farmer’s markets and community food markets
- Expand case and contact tracing
- Work with impacted communities and stakeholders, including Indigenous and Black communities, the non-profit sector, and Toronto’s four school boards
The Board of Health will continue to promote active engagement with the Provincial and Federal levels of government, regarding ongoing work on urgent housing and homelessness challenges, testing capacity, and supply of Personal Protective Equipment for front-line workers.
Recovery will not happen overnight. Living with COVID-19 means assessing when the current outbreak is under control, and making sure robust systems and processes are in place to detect and contain any new transmissions. Any measures to reopen the city must be balanced by public health data and evidence.
I want to commend our Medical Officer of Health and Toronto Public Health staff for their dedication and hard work to keep Torontonians safe and healthy through this difficult time. Now, recovery is an opportunity to take action on some of the challenges that we continue to face as a city, many of which have a direct impact on people’s health. That’s why public health knowledge and expertise must inform each and every step of our recovery process.
City to provide Personal Protective Equipment to Community Agencies to Protect our Most Vulnerable
The City of Toronto is stepping up to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) directly from its inventory to community agencies running daytime drop-ins, meal programs, and shelters. This will help to keep vulnerable clients and frontline staff safe.
The City has provided PPE directly to overnight shelters, including respites and 24-hour drop-ins, from municipal inventory. Currently, the City currently oversees the operation for 105 overnight shelter sites. Of these, 29 are directly operated by the City, while 76 are operated by community agencies, and funded through partnerships with the city.
The City will now be providing daily surgical masks for all staff at overnight shelter and respite sites from the City’s inventory. This extends the requirement for all staff to wear surgical masks provided by the City at overnight shelter sites, to protect staff and clients.
Daytime drop-ins and drop-in meal programs run by community agencies were, until now, provided with seed grants to source PPE externally and help pay for other supplies.
In response to the ongoing need for PPE in daytime drop-ins and meal programs, and recognizing the importance of these programs in keeping our most vulnerable safe and supported, the City will now use municipal inventory to provide PPE directly to these programs. The Toronto Drop In Network will manage the distribution of this PPE to community agencies.
Obtaining PPE – masks, gowns, gloves – has been a global challenge in this pandemic, including for the City of Toronto. We are still working hard to secure enough of these supplies. Ongoing support from provincial and federal governments will be critical.
City Guidelines for Retail Stores Reopening for Pickup and Delivery
The Ontario Government has confirmed that beginning Saturday, May 9, hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases. On Monday, May 11, all retail stores with a street entrance can also begin to offer curbside pickup and delivery. Garden centres and nurseries are already permitted to be open for in-store payment and purchases and are operating under the same guidelines that grocery stores and pharmacies have been following.
While the Province has made changes in order to allow these businesses to open, it is essential that we continue to practice physical distancing and take precautions to keep everyone safe.
In Toronto, our Emergency Operations Centre has worked with Toronto Public Health, the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild, Transportation Services, and other City divisions to help draft guidelines for businesses to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and encourage physical distancing.
Examples of how business owners can help keep employees and customers safe include:
- Actively managing entry into their stores by placing employees, signage and visual cues such as cones or tape
- Encouraging employees and customers to wear face coverings, such as non-medical masks or scarves
- Managing lines inside the store by placing tape every two metres (six feet)
- Allowing for online or over the phone orders
- Scheduling pickup times for customers
- Defining a process for how employees interact with customers – especially related to loading vehicles and payments
- Where possible, only accepting payments by credit card, debit or gift card
As businesses in Toronto consider how to allow curbside pickup, they should continue to follow advice from public health experts by planning to manage physical distancing for customers and employees, both inside and outside their stores; support proper hand hygiene; keep surfaces and objects clean; and find ways to limit contact between people. Tips for businesses are available on toronto.ca at https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-economic-support-recovery-for-businesses/covid-19-business-sector-resources/?accordion=retail-sector-support-curbto-zones-and-noise-bylaw
Last month, the City of Toronto launched the CurbTO program to identify hot spots to help reduce sidewalk crowding in front of essential businesses, and support increased demand for pickup and delivery services. This program will be expanded to support additional retail locations throughout Toronto by staggering customer lineups and managing curbside pickup traffic. Learn more about CurbTO at http://www.toronto.ca/covid19BusinessTO.
Business Improvement Areas received targeted outreach regarding the CurbTO program, and were encouraged to act on behalf of the active businesses in their catchment areas. There are a significant number of businesses on retail strips that are not included in a Business Improvement Area. Individual businesses are encouraged to visit our website at toronto.ca/covid19BusinessTO and complete a brief survey.
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 public health recommendations in response to new guidelines announced by the provincial government that will allow for retail stores to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery:
- To help keep our community safe, Toronto Public Health strongly recommends that all participating stores promote physical distancing as much as possible. More details on this are available online.
- First and foremost, the best thing you can do to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face as much as possible, and maintain a physical distance of two metres from others. However, in a retail environment when physical distancing cannot be maintained and you are in close contact with others, a cloth mask or face covering is strongly recommended to keep your germs from spreading to others even if you have no symptoms. Learn more about recommendations for businesses on the City’s website here.
Read all of Dr. de Villa’s past statements here.
Update from Fire Chief Matthew Pegg
Today Chief Pegg shared that the City of Toronto is providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) directly from its inventory to community agencies running daytime drop-ins, meal programs, and shelters to help to keep vulnerable clients and frontline staff safe.
The City has provided PPE directly to overnight shelters, including respites and 24-hour drop-ins, from municipal inventory. Currently, the City oversees the operation of 105 overnight shelter sites. Of these, 29 are directly operated by the City, while 76 are operated by community agencies, and funded through partnerships with the city. Read more about the City providing PPE to community agencies here.
Read all of Chief Pegg’s statements here.
Statement on the Future of Quayside
Yesterday we learned that Sidewalk Labs has chosen to withdraw their proposal for the Quayside community due to changing economic circumstances.
Quayside is a central project in Waterfront Toronto’s mission to revitalize and reclaim our city’s waterfront. Since day one, our objective with Quayside has been to develop a new model for how we can build a 21st century neighbourhood – one that is truly affordable, liveable, and sustainable. It is critical that we get it right.
Over the past two years, Waterfront Toronto has invested a considerable amount of work in the development of Quayside. Legitimate concerns were raised regarding Sidewalk Labs’ proposals, including concerns over data collection and digital governance.
As a result, we conducted detailed reviews and significant public consultation, to fully understand the risks and opportunities of this proposal. We worked hard and in good faith to advance this project.
While this does mean that Waterfront Toronto will start again to reimagine Quayside, none of this work will go to waste. The engagement and feedback we have received from residents and community organizations has given us a solid framework that will shape our work going forward.
Our task today is the same as it was yesterday, last month, and last year: to build a liveable, sustainable, and affordable neighbourhood.
Waterfront Toronto is committed to moving ahead with our vision of a revitalized waterfront. Quayside continues to be an opportunity to build a neighbourhood that serves everyone, while addressing the urban challenges of housing affordability, active transportation, and climate change.
I want to thank all the staff at Waterfront Toronto and at Sidewalk Labs for their hard work, along with every community member who attended a meeting or sent us your thoughts and ideas. Thanks to you, we have a solid foundation from which to start again.
Our work on Quayside continues – and I look forward to providing future updates on our progress.
Lake Ontario Water Levels and Flood Mitigation Update
As of May 7, authorities from the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board continue to forecast lower peak lake levels than we experienced in 2017 and 2019.
After a modest increase earlier this week, water levels have stabilized in recent days. While lake levels have been high since the beginning of 2020, weather conditions this spring have been dry and cool in both the Lake Ontario and Ottawa River basins. The rapid, heavy spring snowmelt and precipitation experienced during previous flood years have not occurred, and current forecasts indicate these trends will continue. These projections suggest a decreasing likelihood of flood conditions on Toronto Islands this year.
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. Lake Ontario water level triggers have been established, and further plans are in place if lake levels rise above 75.5 metres. 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 on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has assigned a response team to focus on the 2020 flood season and coordinate the City’s response with our partners. Emergency response plans are being updated to work under current directives to mitigate COVID-19, and to address needs along the city-side waterfront as well as Toronto Islands.
- All TRCA flood mitigation projects for Toronto's Waterfront and Toronto Islands continue to be categorized as "essential" business under the Province of Ontario's recently updated direction. These works are continuing with appropriate public health-recommended separation protocols for workers.
- On Toronto Islands, the TRCA has completed installation of new flood mitigation beach curbs east and west of Ward’s dock.
- Urgent raising of roads to maintain emergency access in two priority locations is underway: a 300m stretch of Lake Shore Boulevard near Gibraltar Point, and a 200m stretch on Cibola Avenue near the Fire Hall. The road bed raising work has been completed and asphalting is expected to begin the week of May 18. The roads are fully accessible for vehicles until that work is completed.
- At Toronto Island Water Treatment Plant, implementation of two berms, a sump pit, and metre bags is underway to protect this vital public infrastructure.
- Engineering assessment work on the sea wall at Algonquin Island has been completed. TRCA has recommended, implementation of a 1m berm on the sea wall, along the edge of Seneca Avenue. Design work will be completed by mid-May, and construction is scheduled to be completed in June. In the meantime, previously installed metre-bags and new sandbagging will provide protection from wave action.
- Twelve aquadams and more industrial pumps are ready to be deployed before extreme lake levels are reached to mitigate flooding in low-lying areas of Toronto Islands Park.
- Technical mapping of flood impacts for different lake level elevations for the whole of Toronto’s waterfront has been produced by TRCA to inform Emergency Management planning. This information will be posted on a public portal on TRCA’s website in the coming days.
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 Construction on Bathurst Street Begins this Month
Earlier this week I shared that while much of our focus during this time has been on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, city maintenance projects are still underway. Several necessary maintenance projects are being coordinated on Bathurst Street. The image above provides a visual on each stage of this work, and corresponding timelines. Click here for full details on upcoming Bathurst Street construction.
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.