COVID-19 and Ward 10 Updates - February 18th
For more than a year I’ve spoken to Dr. de Villa before every single media update. I can tell you that yesterday’s was among the hardest of her career.
She made it clear that we are at a critical moment for the spread of COVID variants in our city. If we relax public health restrictions now, the variants can take hold and lead to exponential growth – as in the UK, Germany, and elsewhere.
A third wave doesn’t have to happen. I know we're all tired and desperately want this period to be over. But right now, with COVID variants circulating in our city, we need to do everything we can to stay safe. That includes waiting to re-open until we know it's safe to do so, and each and every one of us continuing to do our part by staying home as much as possible and looking out for one another.
In this Edition
- Toronto and Peel Request Two-Week Extension of Lockdown Regulation
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
- New Cycling Infrastructure and Safety Improvements on The Esplanade and Mill Street
- Black Tech Matters’ Virtual Hackathon: Hacking Generational Wealth
- 689 King Street West Development Application – Community Consultation Meeting
- New Traffic Signals Coming to Bathurst and Wellington
- Queen Street West BIA’s #LoveOnQueen Campaign
- Waterfront East LRT Extension – Consultation Survey
- Resources and Webinars for Small Businesses
- City of Toronto COVID-19 Vaccine Website
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
1. Toronto and Peel Request Two-Week Extension of Lockdown Regulation
Yesterday afternoon, Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa announced that the City of Toronto, along with the Region of Peel, is requesting a two-week extension of the Provincial Lockdown Regulation. If approved by the Province, this means that the current provincial restrictions in place in Toronto and Peel would continue until at least March 9, including the stay-at-home order.
The request stems from significant concern around new COVID-19 variants of concern (VOC) that are appearing in settings across Toronto. Variants have now been identified in long-term care homes, hospitals, a shelter, and a meat packing plant. The extension of the regulation would allow public health officials to focus on the safe reopening of schools and monitoring the new variants in the city.
We have seen around the world what happens when public health measures are relaxed too soon, and the variants take hold. In less than a month, the UK saw case counts increase from 15,000/day to over 50,000/day due to variant B117. Only a strict lockdown has brought the numbers down.
In Toronto, we have just this week returned to in-class learning. We need to make sure schools can open and operate safely, for our kids, their teachers, and staff, before we begin opening up anything else. I know that businesses are suffering, and people are frustrated. But if we open up too quickly, we're headed towards another lockdown – one that could be even stricter. By taking a cautious approach, we can get closer to a safe reopening that truly lasts, while keeping people safe.
2. 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.
On Wednesday, Dr. de Villa spoke about the COVID variants of concern that have been confirmed in our city. In her remarks, she shared that there are currently 56 confirmed variant of concern cases – nearly double the number we had just a week ago. An additional 283 cases that have screened positive as variants of concern in our city are currently undergoing lab analysis.
Dr. de Villa stated that due to the presence of the new variants, she is more worried about the pandemic today than at any other point over the past year. She spoke of examples in the UK, Germany, and Newfoundland, where variants took hold and led to surging case counts in very short periods. She said that Toronto’s current variant numbers are just the tip of the iceberg: by the time variant cases are actually tallied and confirmed, if we don’t act now we will be in a significant third wave.
The good news, Dr. de Villa said, is that public health restrictions are effective against the COVID variants, along with ramping up vaccinations. In the UK, the current strict lockdown measures have brought case numbers back down again. All of this shows that we can’t yet safely lift public health restrictions in Toronto.
3. New Cycling Infrastructure and Safety Improvements on The Esplanade and Mill Street
The Esplanade and Mill Street serve as connections to iconic destinations like the Distillery District and St. Lawrence Market. New cycling infrastructure and traffic safety plans for these important streets are underway.
Today, walking, cycling and transit make up nearly three-quarters of the trips in the St. Lawrence and Distillery District neighbourhoods, yet there have been more than 340 collisions on this corridor in the last five years. 10 percent of these collisions involved people walking or cycling, and one percent led to serious injury or death. The Esplanade is also being used as a bypass to Front Street and Lower Jarvis Street. This non-local traffic leads to congestion, pollution and noise, and delays to TTC service.
The Esplanade and Mill Street Improvement Project will:
- Improve safety for everyone
- Make it more attractive to walk, bike, and take transit
- Maintain access to local and citywide destinations
Community residents, businesses and organizations are invited to a public consultation event on February 25th, 2021. The consultation will be an opportunity to learn about the proposed changes, ask questions and provide comments.
4. Black Tech Matters’ Virtual Hackathon: Hacking Generational Wealth
Hacking Generational Wealth is a virtual event sponsored by the City of Toronto that unfolds over two days, from February 26 - 28, 2021. Multi-disciplinary teams formed during the event will collaborate to learn, research and address the effects of generational wealth through a pitch competition for solutions they developed. The hackathon is open to participants from across Canada and the United States.
The hackathon will spotlight three tracks: Open Banking, the portability of financial information; Housing Security, including cost, quality and stability of housing; and Credit and Debt Management, including financial literacy and resources. Participating teams will work throughout the 48-hour hackathon to develop solutions they feel will overcome the barriers prohibiting progress for building generational wealth for minority communities.
Guided by a series of speakers, and aided by mentors and industry experts, the participants will have the opportunity to pitch their business and technology ideas to a panel of Judges. The top nine solutions, three from each track, will be invited to join the BlackTechMatters Accelerator for additional funding, mentorship and market entry support.
5. 689 King Street West Development Application – Community Consultation Meeting
You are invited to a virtual community consultation meeting regarding the development application for 689 King Street West.
Date: Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Time: 7 pm – 9 pm
Click here for information on how to join virtually and by phone
The applicant proposes to amend the Zoning By-law to permit the redevelopment of the site with a 17-storey (54 metre tall) hotel building fronting King Street West and a 13-storey (39 metre tall) hotel building closer to the rear of the site. The two hotel components would be connected by a common, 1-storey base building. This latest proposal was submitted July 28, 2020 and differs from the initially proposed 13-storey (56 metre tall) office building that was submitted February 15, 2019.
6. New Traffic Signals Coming to Bathurst and Wellington
Building safer streets at every opportunity is our priority across the city. It is critical that we plan and invest in our infrastructure to ensure that our streets are safe for everyone, no matter how they get around.
Following community concerns regarding safety at Bathurst and Wellington, I moved a motion to install traffic signals at the intersection. I’m pleased to share that installation of the traffic signals is now underway, and they are expected to become operational in the spring.
7. Queen Street West BIA’s #LoveOnQueen Campaign
Support local businesses, and enter to win daily prizes by joining the Queen Street West BIA’s #LoveOnQueen campaign. Learn more here: https://www.queenstreettoronto.com/love-on-queen.html
8. Waterfront East LRT Extension – Consultation Survey
Thanks to everyone who joined us last night for the virtual community consultation on the Waterfront East LRT Extension.
We want to hear from you. Learn more about the project, and fill out the survey here. The survey closes March 4th.
9. Resources and Webinars for Small Businesses
Sign up for BusinessTO News, a weekly newsletter that focuses on available resources and supports to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Toronto businesses. Learn about the current health situation, changes to City services, resources, and economic support. Click here to sign up.
Upcoming free webinars:
Ask the Expert: Marketing & Sales
Friday, February 19, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – Register
General Small Business Tax Literacy Seminar
Friday, February 26, 9:30 a.m. to noon – Register
10. City of Toronto COVID-19 Vaccine Website
The City has launched a website to keep residents up to date on COVID-19 vaccines.
Visit toronto.ca/covid19vaccine for real time and updated information.
11. 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
Call if you develop symptoms.
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Email: [email protected]
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.