The Cressy Courier: improving public health, environment day, and more

Dear friend -- 

Overdose is a serious public health issue in our City – we have seen a 41% increase in the number of deaths due to overdose in the last ten years.  206 people died of overdose in our City in 2013 - a staggering number. These are our neighbours, members of our communities, our fellow Torontonians. We need a comprehensive public health response that will save lives and make our communities safer.

Yesterday, the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown, recommended new measures to improve public health in our City by introducing supervised injection services within existing health facilities in Toronto.  Following the announcement, the Toronto Star published its editorial on the issue, supporting the introduction of these life-saving services in our City.

Three sites – Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre, Toronto Public Health-The Works and South Riverdale Community Health Centre – will be applying for a Federal exemption to operate supervised injection services in their communities.  These services will add to the range of initiatives currently underway to address the growing overdose crisis in our City.  Supervised injection services already exist in other major cities, with more than 90 operating worldwide, including 2 in Canada.

Supervised injection services will save lives.  Between 2004 and 2013 we saw a 41% increase in the number of reported overdose deaths in Toronto, and those are just the ones that were reported. Supervised Injection Services prevent fatal overdoses and the transmission of serious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Nurses and other staff are onsite to provide medical care.  We need a comprehensive public health response that includes small-scale Supervised Injection Services (SIS) to help save lives.

Supervised Injection Services will also make our communities safer by reducing issues such as public injecting and discarded needles.  We hear stories from our neighbours, our Parks Ambassadors, and others in our communities of unsafe, used needles in public parks, playgrounds, and coffee shop washrooms.  Supervised injection services will reduce this significantly, as those who use drugs are brought indoors and provided with clean and safe places to dispose of needles and other materials, as well as counselling and medical support.

The Queen West-Central Toronto Community Health Centre, located at Bathurst and Richmond Street, has been a part of our neighbourhood for decades. It is home to health care services, counselling services, community programs, and harm reduction services. As part of Queen West’s harm reduction services they currently operate a needle exchange program where users can pick up clean needles and return used ones.

Queen West, along with the second health centre and Toronto Public Health, is asking the Federal Government for permission to set up three small booths within their health centres where people could inject pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of a nurse. This would allow a nurse to provide clean supplies, education on safer injection, overdose prevention and intervention, medical and counselling services, and referrals to drug treatment, housing, income support and other services.

Over the coming days, I will be distributing information to our community to provide information and answer questions you may have - this information is also available below.  I will also be confirming details on upcoming community consultation in our neighbourhood to hear from you and to work together to answer questions and address concerns.

Drug use is complicated and requires a comprehensive response that includes prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. Supervised Injection Services in Toronto will be one part of this comprehensive response - and they will save lives and improve community safety.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Take care,

Joe 

Improving public health and community safety - further information on supervised injection services 

Working together with our community is a critical part of this process - Toronto's Medical Officer of Health is recommending the introduction of supervised injection services to save lives and improve community safety.  But, the first step is working together to share information, answer questions and address concerns.  

One of the proposed sites that is seeking to introduce small-scale supervised injections services is located at Bathurst and Richmond, on the border of Wards 19 and 20.  Queen West Community Health Centre has been a member of community for 45 years, and has been located at its current site at Bathurst and Richmond for over 20. It is home to many doctors' offices, counselling services, community programs and harm reduction services. 

As I mentioned above, I will be distributing information over the coming days to our local community that I hope will provide information and answers to questions you may have - this information is available here.  It also includes a "save the date" for an upcoming community consultation (pending approval of the consultation process at the Board of Health next week).  Once there are confirmed details regarding our community consultation, I will be distributing this information again in our neighbourhood.

I would encourage you to review the flyer, and to get in touch with my office at any time should you have any questions.


Planning for March Break!

During March Break, March 14 to 18, the City of Toronto will offer free and low-cost activities at its community centres, parks and historic sites. Highlights of Parks, Forestry and Recreation division activities and attractions follow, in addition to information about Toronto's historic sites/museums.

Camps

March Break camps are a great opportunity for children and youth to enjoy a range of activities. Participants enjoy activities such as arts, crafts, music, drama, sports and games. More camp details are available at http://www.toronto.ca/camps or by calling 311. 

Drop-in programs

City of Toronto community centres offer various free or low-cost programs for all ages. More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/parks and by calling 311. 

Skiing and snowboarding

The City's Centennial Park and Earl Bales ski and snowboard centres will be open, weather permitting, for March Break.

More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/ski

Skating

Thirty-seven outdoor artificial ice rinks are open until the end of the day on March 20, weather permitting. Locations, hours and program details are available at http://www1.toronto.ca/parks/prd/skating/dropin/marchbreak/index.htm.

Indoor leisure skating programs, including caregiver and tot, family skate and shinny, are free for all ages. CSA-approved hockey helmets are mandatory for children under six years of age and all shinny hockey participants, and are recommended for skaters of all ages. Schedules and locations are available at http://www.toronto.ca/skate

Swimming

City of Toronto pools offer free March Break swimming opportunities. More information is available at http://www1.toronto.ca/parks/prd/swimming/dropin/marchbreak/index.htm

Attractions

Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester St.)
Visitors can tour Riverdale Farm's scenic grounds to see domestic farm animals such as pigs, horses and sheep. The farm's Meeting House will offer crafts and games and farming demonstrations will be provided throughout the day. The farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is accessible to all. Admission is free. More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/parks/featured-parks

High Park Zoo (on Deer Pen Road) 
Established 120 years ago, the High Park Zoo is home to domestic and exotic animals, including bison, llamas, peacocks, reindeer, highland cattle and yaks. Admission to the zoo is free and it's open daily from dawn to dusk. More information is available at http://www.toronto.ca/parks/zoo/.

Toronto Island Park
Just minutes away from downtown by ferry, Toronto Island Park offers March break fun for everyone. It's a great place to walk, roll, cycle, explore and enjoy the city skyline. A list of ferry fees and the schedule are available at http://www.toronto.ca/ferry

Playground Paradise (Flemingdon Park Community Centre, 150 Grenoble Dr.)
Playground Paradise offers fun for children aged 12 and under. Kids can play on a two-storey play structure, go down the spiral slide, swing on the track ride, and play in the ball pit. A fee of $2.50 per child applies. More information is available by calling 416-395-6014. Schedule during March break:

  • March 14, 16 and 18 from 10 a.m. to noon, 1 to 3 p.m., 4 to 6 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • March 15 and 17 from 10 a.m. to noon

Conservatories
The spring flower shows are in full bloom at Centennial Park Conservatory, 151 Elmcrest Rd. and Allan Gardens Conservatory, 19 Horticultural Ave. Both shows feature various spring flowering plants, including tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The Easter displays, featuring lilies and hydrangeas, will open at both conservatories on March 20. The conservatories are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and admission is free. More information is available by calling Centennial Park Conservatory at 416-394-8543 and Allan Gardens Conservatory at 416-392-7288.

Historic Sites

Many of the City's 10 historic sites are open during March Break for tours. Regular admission fees apply. Times and activity details vary by location. More information about drop-in activities is available at http://www.toronto.ca/museum-events.

Some nearby sites to check out:

Fort York National Historic Site (250 Fort York Blvd.)

March 14 to 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Spadina Museum (285 Spadina Rd.)

March 12 to 20 from 12 to 5 p.m.

Some of the historic sites are also offering day camps. More information on those camps is available at http://www.toronto.ca/camps.


Ward 20 Community Environment Day!

We are happy to announce the Ward 20 Community Environment Day 2016 will be on Saturday April 2!  We're getting an early start this year in Ward 20, but we're very excited to celebrate the beginning of Spring in our community!

Highlights will include:

  • Free compost pick up
  • Donation of gently used items and safe disposal of household hazardous waste
  • Exchange your damaged green bin for a new one / pick up one if you're a new resident
  • Learning about the City's many green initiatives, and ways to make shrink your environmental footprint

For more information, see the event flyer here, and I hope to see you out on April 2!


Toronto Environmental Alliance - INHALE Project

This spring, Ward 20 residents are invited to participate in the Toronto Environmental Alliance's INHALE Project. This innovative community air monitoring initiative started in South Etobicoke and is now moving to the downtown core to collect important information about the air we breathe. 

Using easy-to-use air monitoring equipment, residents can become Community Air Trackers who walk, bike, stroll and roll along their streets, gathering mappable data as they go. 

Knowledge is power. With information on street level air quality, TEA's INHALE Project hopes to spark community conversations that can lead to clean air solutions.

Learn more about INHALE and sign up volunteer at: http://inhaleproject.ca


Scadding Court - Welcome to Toronto Event

Last Saturday, March 12th, I was extremely proud to join Scadding Court and other community partners to welcome new Syrian refugee families in our community and across Toronto.

Among those at the event were: Toronto Public Library, University Health Network, Toronto Police Services, Kensington-Bellwoods Community Legal Services. This was a wonderful event to showcase all that our neighbourhood has to offer and I'm looking forward to further events to showcase our community's great diversity.

For more information on the City's Refugee Resettlement Program and ways you can help, click here.


Seaton Village Open House

Last week, I hosted an Open House in Seaton Village at Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Church and I was joined by staff from Parks, Forestry & Recreation, Transportation Services, representatives from Toronto Police Services 14 Division, a representative on behalf of Ward 10 TDSB Trustee Ausma Malik and the Seaton Village Residents' Association.

It was a great chance to speak directly with residents in Seaton Village and have representatives available to discuss a wide range of issues and initiatives in the neighbourhood and across Ward 20. 

Thank you so much for everyone who made it out – I look forward to continuing our work together in building a forever vibrant Seaton Village!


Dupont OMB Appeal Public Meeting

Councillor Layton and I are hosting a meeting to hear from you on the development proposals along Dupont Street within the Dupont Street Study Area

In December 2013 City Council directed City Staff to undertake a study of the Dupont Corridor in Ward 19 and 20. The study examined land uses, streetscape improvements, urban design and built form guidelines, transportation options, the function and design of Dupont Street, and the impact of the rail corridor on potential development options.

Public meetings were held throughout 2014 and City Council adopted a final report at its meeting on August 25, 2014, which has subsequently been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) (case number: PL141134). The OMB Hearing is currently scheduled for May 2016 and the City will be in attendance to defend the study recommendations.

Date: Tuesday, March 22nd

Time: 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Location: Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Church (823 Manning Ave.)

For more information, see the event flyer here.


Letter to Toronto Port Authority on ground run-up enclosure

After years of organizing and opposition, we received confirmation last November that Jets would not fly from the Island Airport - full stop. 

With that, our City could return to the work of ensuring existing airport operations better fit in with the local neighbourhood and the city - it is located within a local neighbourhood, abutting one of our most iconic parks, Toronto Islands Park, and is adjacent to a commuting corridor into downtown which is already congested. Work needs to be done to ensure that existing airport operations work better in this context. 

To that end, Councillor Pam McConnell and I recently sent a letter regarding the ground run-up enclosure at the Island Airport.  You can read the letter here.


TTC Construction

King-Charlotte-Adelaide

The City of Toronto and the TTC will replace the streetcar tracks and complete some sidewalk repairs at the intersections of Charlotte Street with King Street West and Adelaide Street West beginning later this month.

Phase 1, from March 29 to April 10, will fully close the intersection of King Street and Charlotte Street. No vehicles or streetcars will be permitted through the intersection. Pedestrian access will be maintained.

Phase 2, from April 11 to April 22, will close all but one lane of traffic on Adelaide Street. Vehicle access to Charlotte Street will be via King Street only. Pedestrian access will be maintained.

Some work will take place overnight to shorten the duration of the project, but the noisiest work – concrete breaking and removal – will not occur after 11 p.m.

For full details, please visit the TTC's website: http://www.ttc.ca/Service_Advisories/Construction/King_Charlotte_track.jsp

Bathurst Street

Over the next couple weeks, the TTC will be conducting essential concrete repairs to multiple locations along the track allowance margin on Bathurst Street from north of College Street to Bathurst Station. Repairs at these locations are required to return the track area to a state of good repair.

This work will require streetcar service to be diverted on the March 19/20 and 26/27 weekends. Regular streetcar service will be maintained during weekdays.

The repairs will be staged in four phases working north from College Street:

1. North of College Street to south of Ulster Street.
2. North of Ulster Street to south of Harbord Street.
3. North of Harbord Street to north of Lennox Street.
4. North of Bloor Street to Bathurst Station.

For more information, please see the construction notice here.

Dupont Station

As the TTC continues its program to make our transit system accessible to all by 2025, ongoing work at Dupont Station will require some traffic disruptions at the intersection of Spadina and Bloor. 

Please read this document for more information on traffic disruptions and lane closures.


Stay in touch with Trustee Malik

Sign-up to Trustee Ausma Malik's e-newsletter for regular updates from her: http://eepurl.com/9xckn


Upcoming Development Consultations

Kensington Market Heritage Conservation District - Kick-off Meeting
Date: Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
Time: 6:30-8:00pm
Location: St. Stephen-in-the-Fields Church (103 Bellevue Avenue)

Please join me for our kick-off meeting to discuss the Kensington Market Heritage Conservation District (HCD)! Heritage Preservation Services staff will explain the basics of HCDs and the process moving forward. This is your first opportunity to provide input into the project and I hope you'll be able to join us.

University of Toronto Secondary Plan Meeting, Part Two
Date: Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
Time: 5:00-8:00pm (drop in anytime)
Location: Hart House, East Common Room (7 Hart House Circle)

Join me at the next University of Toronto St. George Campus Secondary Plan Meeting. The University and Urban Design Strategies will be presenting the second phase of the plan and looking for feedback from the community.

Block 31 Schools and Community Centre
Date: This spring (exact date TBD)
Time and Location: TBD

Work is progressing well on the plans the build two new schools and a community centre on Block 31 in CityPlace, the empty lot beside Canoe Landing Park. The next public meeting to provide an update and hear your comments is being scheduled for late April. The details will be announced when the date and location are confirmed.

King-Spadina Planning Updates
Date: This spring (exact date TBD)
Time and Location: TBD

Staff from City Planning and Heritage Preservation Services are preparing updates on two very important initiatives underway for our communities in the King-Spadina area: an update of the King-Spadina Secondary Plan and a new Heritage Conservation District Plan. These tools will help us to protect the cherished heritage character of the area, better control and plan how our neighbourhoods grow, and provide more certainty about future change. Public meetings in April will be announced soon.


Upcoming events

March 21st, 2016

Huron Street Square Open House (6:00 - 8:00pm)
Dim Sum King Restaurant, 2nd Floor (421 Dundas St W)

Join members of the BIA, City staff and myself at an Open House to review the Huron Street Square proposal and learn additional information about the planned improvements that will be taking place in 2017.


Constituency Hours!

A reminder that I hold constituency hours every Friday afternoon at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. West).

Please call 416-392-4044 or email councillor_cressy@toronto.ca for an appointment.