COVID-19 and Ward 10 Updates - December 3rd

Dear friends,

There’s no sugarcoating it: we’re in another lockdown, and there’s a long winter ahead. But we don’t have to accept a long, painful second wave, or a third wave as inevitable. We can beat COVID, if we work together.

For most of us, that means staying home whenever we can, limiting our close contacts, wearing masks, and washing our hands.

For governments, it means putting in place protections that will help to keep everyone safe, and guaranteeing the necessary infrastructure for success.

We’re a resilient city. We’ve made it this far, and I know we'll make it the rest of the way together.

Sincerely, 

Joe


In this Edition

  1. It’s Time for a Vacant Homes Tax in Toronto
  2. Toronto Music Advisory Committee Updates
  3. Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health 
  4. Waterfront LRT Update Report
  5. COVID-19 Pop-up Testing at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre
  6. Winter Skating at The Bentway
  7. Lockdown Guide for Toronto Residents
  8. Bag of Toronto – Supporting Local Businesses
  9. City of Toronto COVID-19 Resource Map
  10. COVID-19 Information and Resources

It’s Time for a Vacant Homes Tax in Toronto

I strongly support the proposal to implement a vacant homes tax in Toronto as a way to help ensure that homes and apartments in our City are being used for housing. It’s one more tool to help us build a more affordable and equitable Toronto.

Toronto was struggling with an affordable housing and homelessness crisis even before the pandemic. And the cost of housing has skyrocketed in recent years, making Toronto increasingly unaffordable for families, essential workers, and too many others.

A vacant homes tax is an important action that our City can take to address the affordable housing crisis. This tool has already been used successfully in other cities. In the first year of Vancouver's vacancy tax, the number of vacant units decreased by more than one fifth. 

Bringing the vacancy rate down means more homes will become available to rent by people actually living and working in Toronto. Any revenue from this tool can be dedicated towards expanding affordable housing supports, like housing allowances, to help even more people find housing and stay in their homes.

Sign the petition by Progress Toronto to show your support for a vacant home tax and send a strong message to other Councillors and the Mayor, who will be considering this proposal at Executive Committee next week


Toronto Music Advisory Committee Updates 

As the Chair of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee (TMAC), I have been working with our City of Toronto Music Office to ensure that we are supporting our local artists and live music venues in dealing with the profound economic impacts of COVID-19. 

TMAC will meet today to discuss a number of important items including;

  • Enhanced Support for Toronto Live Music Venues: Staff will provide an update on the feasibility of the City of Toronto's role in supporting an insurance program for live music venues, as well as a property tax reduction program for live music venues.
  • Enhanced Support for Toronto Musicians During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Staff will provide an update on how the City of Toronto's COVID-19 and Toronto Public Health response could align with TMAC’s efforts to support live music venues and musicians. Staff will also provide an update on the Music Office's development of the City Hall Live Spotlight and Soundtracks of the City programs under the City's ShowLoveTO initiative.
  • Presentation from Advance, Canada's Black Music Business Collective: A presentation on the organization's mandate, goals, and partnership opportunities.
  • Toronto Music Strategy - Update: Following the creation of TMAC in 2013, the Toronto Music Strategy was developed to guide the short-term and long-term growth of Toronto’s music sector. An update will be provided on the process and timelines for the Toronto Music Strategy.

    View the meeting 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 twice-weekly updates on the current situation and response to COVID-19 in Toronto. You can view the press conferences live at 2pm, and access past updates here.

In her update this week Dr. de Villa spoke about the COVID-19 virus takes time to incubate, and for symptoms to emerge. The infections we’re seeing today likely occurred at least a week, or even two weeks, ago.

Since the Province’s latest “lockdown” measures for Toronto and Peel are still relatively recent, contact between people has only just been reduced as a result. This means that time is needed in order to see the measures take effect. 

Dr. de Villa emphasized the high case numbers in Toronto right now, and the need for all of us to continue to keep our guards up. By making smart choices about where we go, who we see, and what we do, and by renewing our commitment to staying at home as much as possible, we can limit the spread of the virus. 

We are at the lowest risk in our own homes with the people we live with every day – and aside from school, work, and necessary errands, those should be the only people that we are seeing. 

Read Dr. de Villa’s full statement here


Waterfront LRT Update Report

An update report on the Waterfront LRT will be considered by the Executive Committee on December 10, in advance of public consultation to be held in early 2021.

The report outlines the ongoing work by City, TTC, and Waterfront Toronto staff to advance the design for the new Union Station-Queens Quay East transit line that will serve the growing new waterfront community.

Finishing the Preliminary Design & Engineering phase will make the project eligible for funding from other orders of government, and is expected to be achieved in late 2021. An updated phasing and funding strategy for the LRT will be provided to Council next year for the 2022 Budget cycle.

Public consultation on the design update will be announced shortly. 

The scope of this work includes platform expansion underground at Union Station loop, a new portal to the surface on Queens Quay East, and public realm design for the streetscape from Bay Street to Parliament Street. The scope will also include design of the segment from Parliament Street to Cherry Street, and the planned link from Cherry Street through the rail underpass to Distillery loop.

In January 2018, after years of work, City Council endorsed the overall Waterfront Transit Network Plan, which would see the creation of a new light rail line across the Waterfront, from beyond the Don River in the east to west of Exhibition Place. In April 2019, City Council endorsed specific design principles for the Union Station-Queens Quay link as part of this project. A funding strategy report for the LRT to Council was delayed due to the changes to the City's transit planning by the Province, but work to advance the project has continued.

Investing in transit across our Waterfront is critical, and I will continue to advocate for prioritization of Waterfront Transit as the City continues moving forward on transit expansion planning.

For background information and to sign up for updates on consultations and more, click here.

Expanding public transit is critical to building communities in which we can move people better and also combat the growing climate crisis. In order to build a connected and sustainable new waterfront, we need to lead development with transit.


COVID-19 Pop-up Testing at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre

On Monday December 14th, 12 pm - 6:30 pm, the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre will be hosting the delivery of a pop-up testing site.

View the PDF flyer here


Winter Skating at The Bentway

The Bentway skate trail will open for fun and safe skating on December 18, with a fixed capacity of 25 people. Pre-registration for timed entry will be available via Eventbrite on December 12 at 10 am.

Click here to learn more


Lockdown Guide for Toronto Residents

To help Torontonians keep track of changes to public health guidelines and provincial regulations, the City has created an easy-to-follow Lockdown Guide. 

As with every City webpage, it can also be translated into 51 languages with the translate icon at the bottom of the page.

Click here to view the guide


Bag of Toronto - Supporting Local Businesses

It's more important than ever that we celebrate and support local businesses. A new way to do this is through Bag of Toronto – a curated assortment of specialty products, delivered right to your door. A portion of the profits and all tips will support local charities in each neighbourhood. 

Support local businesses and two of our Ward 10 Business Improvement Areas (Ossington BIA and Queen West BIA) by ordering yours here: bagoftoronto.ca


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. 


COVID-19 Information and Resources

It is important 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: [email protected]

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