The Cressy Courier March 5 - February Board of Health Updates, Data Governance and Smart Cities, and more
Conversations at City Hall on the 2019 Budget are continuing as we prepare for the final vote at City Council this Thursday.
Again this year, the 2019 budget doesn't recommend the investments needed to truly make our city better. For the last two decades our city's population has steadily grown. Meanwhile, our revenue has steadily declined. Simply put, as our city has grown, our budget to support Toronto residents has not.
At its core, the annual Budget debate is about people. Decisions made during the budget process immediately affect how we live in our city; how we interact with our parks and greenspaces; how we get around – whether on foot, bike, transit or car, and how we support each other.
I’d like to thank everyone who came out to our Downtown Budget Town Hall to share your views on how we should be building a city for the future. As we continue our work together to build a fairer and more inclusive city, I look forward to our continued dialogue to encourage others at City Hall to make the investments we need to truly build our city for all.
February Board of Health Updates
As the new Chair of the Board of Health for this term of Council, I am pleased to share the below updates from our February meeting with you:
Toronto Indigenous Overdose Strategy
For Indigenous communities in Toronto, the lack of culturally-safe services that reflect the diversity of Indigenous values and traditions are contributing to the overdose crisis. The Board of Health has endorsed the Toronto Indigenous Overdose Strategy which outlines the need for a separate Indigenous-led process to develop an overdose prevention and response strategy for Indigenous People in Toronto as was recommended in the Toronto Overdose Action Plan.
Expanding Opioid Substitution Treatment with Managed Opioid Programs
As the overdose crisis continues unabated in our city there is a critical need to expand treatment options to include managed opioid programs. This strategy is part of the response to the overdose crisis in British Columbia and Alberta, and is urgently needed in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario. The Board of Health voted to endorse the expansion of Opioid Substitution Treatment with Managed Opioid Programs.
Addition of Edibles and Other Products to Federal Cannabis Legislation
Legalizing cannabis, including edibles, is long overdue. But just like with tobacco, it’s unacceptable to market to children and youth. It’s critical that we take a public health approach to legalization. The Board of Health has approved recommendations for the federal government to take actions to prevent youth exposure to cannabis products that encourage initiation of use, reduce accidental ingestion of cannabis products, reduce consumption of high-potency cannabis products, and highlight the need to collect information on the public health impact of cannabis legalization.
Need for More Affordable, Supportive, and Harm Reduction Housing
At its meeting in January 2019, the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel discussed the intersection of homelessness and the lack of affordable and supportive housing options on the current opioid overdose crisis. Access to safe, affordable, and appropriate housing is critical to preventing the harms associated with substance use. Individuals who have lost their housing and become homeless are at an increased risk for overdose and other health harms. Stable and affordable housing is critical to stabilizing their lives and improving their health and well-being. At its February meeting, the Board of Health requested the Medical Officer of Health to articulate the critical role of supportive and harm reduction housing as part of the development of the City of Toronto's new 10-year affordable housing plan.
Heat Relief Services Update
In January 2019, City Council adopted a report from the Medical Officer of Health that proposed a strategy for heat relief services in order to put the City in a stronger position to protect residents from extreme heat. Although the Board of Health has approved recommendations for the Heat in Apartments Working Group to identify additional strategies to address indoor temperatures in apartment buildings, we are continuing to work to promote and expand these strategies. Please stay tuned for further important updates.
Data Governance and Smart Cities
As technology advances, the collection of personal data is becoming commonplace in everyday life. Smart Cities – urban areas that use technology and data collection in order to manage resources, infrastructure, and day-to-day operations – are just one example of the increasing interconnectedness of technological advancement and cities.
If private partners are going to pursue tech-focused projects in our city, Toronto needs to first develop its own vision. We need to decide how data should be collected, managed and used to ensure it's in the best interest of all. We must lead so our partners can follow.
Last month, City Council approved my motion to develop a City-wide policy framework and governance model associated with digital infrastructure, such as Smart Cities.
For more on data governance and Smart Cities, read the Toronto Star op-ed I wrote with Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons.
Proposed Provincial Subway Upload - Updates
Doug Ford's plan to take control of our subway system is a political slogan in search of a solution, and we must work together to stop it.
Where we build transit connects directly to how we build and plan our neighbourhoods, and the TTC is central to our ability to create an equitable and liveable city for all. If the Province breaks apart the TTC, they take away our ability to design and build our city.
The TTC is a complex network involving 4 rapid transit lines, 570 bus routes, 10 streetcar routes, wheel-trans, and 570 million annual riders. It's a network that only works if it is owned and operated as one.
As the largest city in this country, as the economic engine of this province and country, our ability to own and operate our transit system is central to our success. The TTC belongs to the residents of Toronto, and it should stay that way.
The solution to improving our transit system is not for the Province to control it. The solution is for the Province to properly fund it.
Last month at City Council, Councillor Matlow and I moved a motion calling for a public education campaign on the risks of the proposed subway upload. The motion to waive referral lost, which means that it has been sent back down to Executive Committee for consideration.
Share your opposition to the subway upload by writing to Executive Committee, or making a deputation on March 21st. Click here for more information on submitting comments and signing up to speak at Committee.
The Future of Ontario Place
This morning I was joined by Cynthia Wilkey, Ontario Place for All Steering Committee, Michael McClelland, founding Principal of ERA Architects, and Norm Di Pasquale, Chair of No Jets TO and TCDSB Trustee, to speak about the City’s first meeting of the Ontario Place Subcommittee.
Ontario Place is a critical part of our City, and Torontonians need to have a say in its future. When redeveloping land, you need to start with what your principles are. Instead, the Province has released a blanket call for proposals that could lead to the privatization of Ontario Place, without public input.
To ensure our city and our residents have a say on its future, I moved a successful motion to strike a special City of Toronto Ontario Place sub-committee. A subcommittee of Toronto and East York Community Council, members of the public are welcome to attend, submit communications, and register to speak to share their views publicly.
The first meeting of the Subcommittee of Ontario Place will take place tonight, Tuesday March 5th at 5:30pm, City Hall, Committee Room 1. We are encouraging members of the public to attend, and to register to speak to share your views on Ontario Place with us. Click here for more information.
Understanding the Impacts of Provincial Changes to the Health Care System
Last month, the Provincial Government announced significant changes to the health care system in Ontario. Although many details are still unclear, included is the elimination of Local Health Integration Networks, which are substantial partners in the delivery of health services in Toronto, and of the City and Toronto Public Health in general.
It is critical that we, given our role in building health communities and facilitating the delivery of health services in Toronto, understand the impacts for the City of the emerging new landscape of health care in this province.
To do so, City Council approved my motion to request the Medical Officer of Health to report to the April 8, 2019 meeting of the Board of Health on the implications of the changes to the health care system in Ontario recently announced by the Provincial Government for the City of Toronto.
Clean Toronto Together - Registration Now Open
Clean Toronto Together, the City's annual spring cleanup, will take place on April 26, 27 and 28.
The campaign invites resident and community groups, schools, and businesses to help clean public spaces after a long winter. Last year, more than 189,000 people participated in 1,211 cleanups across the city.
Registration is now open at livegreentoronto.ca
The City will arrange special litter collections (April 26-28) for registered cleanups, subject to approval. Registration also prevents multiple groups from cleaning the same space. Click here for more information.
Open Call: The Bentway’s 2019 Community Incubation Program
The Bentway is currently accepting proposals from emerging artists, designers, urbanists, environmentalists, community organizations, and others to animate The Bentway’s grounds through innovative and engaging community programs. Examples of funded programs could include temporary public art installations; drop-in music, dance, and performing arts programs; film screenings; community meals; social good initiatives and more.
They are hosting an information session on March 6 at 6pm at the Fort York Visitor Centre, 250 Fort York Blvd. Learn more here.
Registration for City of Toronto spring and summer recreation programs and summer camps - Now open
Registration for City of Toronto spring and summer recreation programs as well as summer camps is now open. The City is the largest provider of safe, fun and high-quality recreation programs for people of all ages, skill levels and interests in Toronto.
For more information, please visit http://www.toronto.ca/funguide
Community Events & Public Meetings
Sugar Shack TO
March 9th and 10th, 11am to 5pm
Sherbourne Common Park
Toronto’s Winter Waterfront festival is free to attend and features a winter marketplace, ice activities and displays, music, and of course, sugar shacks with maple taffy. Winter just got a little sweeter on the waterfront! https://www.sugarshackto.ca/
March Break Skating
March 11-13th & 15th, 2:30 to 5:00pm
Coca-Cola Coliseum, 45 Manitoba Drive, Exhibition Place
Free family skate at the Coca-Cola Coliseum for march break. Children 12 and under are required to wear a CSA approved helmet. Bring your own skates as rentals and sharpening are not available. Sledges will be available.
950 King St W (Palace Arms) Redevelopment Public Meeting
Monday, March 18th, 6:30pm
Niagara Street Junior Public School, 222 Niagara St
This application proposes the development of a 16-storey (59 metre) building containing 217 residential units, commercial uses on the ground floor, and three levels of underground parking. This meeting is an opportunity to learn more and have your voice heard. View the meeting flyer here for more information.
545 Lake Shore Blvd W redevelopment consultation
Tuesday, March 19, 6:30 pm
Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre, Dance Studio (627 Queens Quay West)
A re-zoning application has been submitted that proposes a mixed-use development with heights of 10, 15, and 39 storeys. Retail and commercial are proposed to occupy the ground floor and lower storeys with 508 residential units above. This is an opportunity to learn more and make your voice heard. View the meeting flyer here for more information and links to resources.
Consultations on vehicle-for-hire regulations
The City of Toronto is inviting residents and industry members to share their views on the Vehicle-for-Hire Bylaw at a series of public meetings, starting on March 4. The bylaw provides regulations for taxicabs, limousines and private transportation companies (PTC), such as Lyft and Uber. Nine public consultations will be held, each focused on a different area of the Vehicle-for-Hire Bylaw. For information on all nine consultations, click here.