COVID-19 Updates - May 15th
As we enter the May long weekend, I know many people are looking forward to spending some time outdoors. Our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. de Villa has continued to advise that spending time outside is important for our mental and physical health, provided we can do so safely by keeping our physical distance of two metres (six feet) from others.
In order to ensure that people can commute, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors safely, yesterday the City announced details on a new initiative called ActiveTO. This program will increase space on our streets and sidewalks to allow for safe physical distancing. I have included more information on ActiveTO below.
Another thing we usually look forward to on the May long weekend is spending time with family and friends. Although the provincial government has announced more details on the next phase of their reopening plans, it is important to remember to continue to avoid close contact with others outside your home and to not make plans to meet up with friends – it is not time for that yet. As Dr. de Villa reminded us yesterday, although you may feel healthy, you may unknowingly transmit the virus to others.
While we are making progress, there is still more work to do. We do not want to undo the sacrifices and progress of the past two months. I know this is difficult, especially as the weather gets nicer, but we need to stay the course with our physical distancing and public health measures.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office should you have any questions on the information below.
Have a wonderful and safe long weekend,
In this Edition
- ActiveTO Program Opens Streets for Physical Distancing in Ward 10
- Update on City of Toronto Summer Camps
- Toronto Music Advisory Committee Endorses Property Tax Relief of 50 Percent for Live Music Venues
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
- City of Toronto Extends Cancellation of Permits for Major Festivals and Launches Recovery Program for Events
- Lake Ontario Water Levels and Flood Mitigation Update
- Public Consultation - Deep Lake Water Cooling Supply Expansion Class Environmental Assessment Study
- Stay, Play & Learn at Home
- Arts At Home
- 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
ActiveTO Program Opens Streets for Physical Distancing in Ward 10
Spring is here, and with warm weather comes an increasing need to be outdoors. As we start to transition towards a gradual recovery and restart, it’s crucial that public health is at the centre of every step.
Our Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has confirmed that spending time outside is important for our mental and physical health, provided we can do so safely by keeping our physical distance of two metres (six feet) from others. Switching to new ways of getting around — for example, walking and cycling, rather than taking public transit for short trips — can also help to reduce congestion and open up more space for physical distancing. But in order for this to happen, we must increase space on our streets and sidewalks so that people can commute, exercise, and enjoy the outdoors safely.
Opening Lake Shore West and Bayview for Pedestrians and Cyclists
Earlier this month, the City announced the new ActiveTO program to create more space for pedestrians, cyclists, and others on our roads. The first phases were shared today.
Beginning this Victoria Day weekend, all eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard West from Stadium Road to Windermere Avenue will be opened to people on foot, on bikes, and all other non-vehicular traffic. The lanes will be closed to cars and other motor vehicles. Similarly, Bayview Avenue will also be opened to people north of Mill Street to Rosedale Valley Road.
These measures will repeat each weekend going forward, throughout the spring and summer months, making more space for people who are walking, cycling, exercising, and using mobility devices, and to alleviate congestion and increase space along the Martin Goodman Trail and the Lower Don Trail.
City staff are actively investigating options for other well-known locations for crowding including Queens Quay and Lake Shore Boulevard East parallel to the central segment of the Martin Goodman Trail. Due to the density and complexity of areas like this, more work is necessary up front before making any changes. But the need for more space for physical distancing is clearly recognized and I expect more information to be shared next week.
Traffic Calming Measures on Quiet Streets
In addition, Toronto Public Health and Transportation Services have recommended that two streets in our Ward 10 community be prioritized for the Quiet Streets initiative: Crawford Street, and The Esplanade. As Quiet Streets, these two roads will see traffic calming measures in order to reduce and slow vehicular traffic, make more comfortable space for pedestrians and cyclists, while still allowing local traffic. This means that signage and temporary barricades at intersections will be installed on Crawford Street and The Esplanade, to slow traffic and encourage only local vehicle access. The Quiet Streets initiative will not impact access for emergency vehicles or parking and drop off areas.
These ActiveTO announcements are a first step in creating safer streets and sidewalks for everyone in our community. However, we know that much more needs to be done. As our city starts to open back up, more people will need to be able to get where they need to go each day — and get there safely.
That means we need to create more sidewalk space for pedestrians and people using mobility devices, and commit to building an expanded, inter-connected system of bike lanes and cycling infrastructure. We need to shift our focus from designing our streets and public spaces around cars, and start designing them for all road users. Proposals are currently underway on these areas, and I will continue to advocate for changes that make our streets safe and accessible for everyone.
Please do not hesitate to let me know about streets in our community that you think would benefit from being designated as Quiet Streets or should be closed to vehicles on weekends. My office will work with you, as always, to make our streets safe and healthy places for everyone. Please email me at [email protected] with suggestions and ideas.
Update on City of Toronto Summer Camps
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to adapt to a new normal. I know that these changes have not been easy, but they have been necessary to protect ourselves and others. Public health advice from our experts has informed every step of our COVID-19 response, including today’s announcement that City of Toronto summer camps cannot safely proceed as originally planned and scheduled.
I also know how important summer camps are to so many families. Summer camps provide positive social interactions, enhance childhood development, and provide young people with jobs and work experience. These programs are especially important for vulnerable kids, who may not be able to access these experiences and opportunities elsewhere.
That’s why City staff have been working around-the-clock to create an alternative program: CampTO. CampTO is a modified summer camp program that could operate safely and in line with public health guidelines. The main difference between CampTO and the City’s regular summer camps is size: CampTO would have 1 staff leader for every five campers, to permit physical distancing. Program capacity at each site would also be limited.
The City of Toronto is the first municipality in the province to come up with a safe, alternative option for summer camp programming.
CampTO can only go forward, though, if we are sure that it’s safe to do so. The Ontario Government has to sign-off by amending the province’s emergency order; and Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa must also give her approval, once a number of criteria are met, including a significant and sustained reduction in virus spread in our city. Right now, we aren’t there yet. The coming weeks will provide more information.
If it is determined that CampTO can proceed, it will have limited space — approximately 44 percent of the usual number of spaces for summer camps will be available. Children age 6 to 12 across the city will be eligible, and a new registration date and sign up will be made available once the Province and Medical Officer of Health have given the go-ahead. City staff have confirmed that once that happens, a four-week period will be necessary to prepare the camps and make sure they are safe before they can begin.
Learning to live with the reality of COVID-19 is challenging, and altered many of our plans for the season ahead. I’m grateful to the dedicated City staff who have managed to come up with a new and innovative approach for how our camps may be able to proceed. I will provide additional updates as soon as they become available.
Toronto Music Advisory Committee Endorses Property Tax Relief of 50 Percent for Live Music Venues
The Toronto Music Advisory Committee (TMAC) held a special virtual meeting earlier this week, to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Toronto’s music community and strategies to assist live music venues. The meeting was streamed live for public viewing.
At the meeting, the members of TMAC unanimously approved a motion to expand the Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclass Designation, in order to apply to live music venues. Expanding the designation will make it possible for operators of live music venues to access a reduction of commercial property taxes of 50 percent.
This Property Tax Subclass was originally developed to support artist hubs such as 401 Richmond. Many venues across the city have faced increasing pressure due to rising costs, even prior to the loss of business due to the current pandemic.
As many live music venues are on major streets in rapidly growing downtown areas, the cookie-cutter approach of Provincial market value assessment for property taxes is pricing out too many live music venues. This tax rate reduction will go a long way towards reducing the rental costs for operators, helping to mitigate the economic impact of the current pandemic and providing much needed financial support on a permanent, go-forward basis.
To learn more, read the full announcement 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 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 spoke about the importance of continuing to carefully monitor the data that we are collecting on cases in our city. Until we consistently reduce the spread of COVID-19, we will need to hold off on holding large gatherings, and continue to practice physical distancing at all times.
Dr. de Villa spoke about how as we move to COVID-19 recovery, we need to look at our specific local circumstances as we follow the Provincial recovery framework. This includes:
- Making sure we continue to reduce the number of new cases of COVID-19 infection;
- That there is have capacity in our hospitals to manage surges in COVID-19 cases while still providing all the other medical care that people need;
- That we have enough public health resources and capacity to manage an increase in COVID-19 cases; and
- That there is enough testing and surveillance capacity in the provincial system to quickly detect new cases and virus spread in our community.
In closing, Dr. de Villa asked everyone to be kind to yourselves, and continue to be kind to each other. Reach out and check in on your loved ones. If you or somebody you know is feeling overwhelmed, remember that there are many services available for you by phone and online, posted on our website. And finally, as you enjoy the long weekend, continue to practise physical distancing and continue taking care of each other.
Read Dr. de Villa’s past updates here.
City of Toronto Extends Cancellation of Permits for Major Festivals and Launches Recovery Program for Events
To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted major festivals and events with attendance of more than 250 people through July 31, and those with attendance of 25,000 or more through August 31. The resumption or cancellation of professional sporting events is not included in this decision.
This decision follows the cancellation of all such events up to June 30, announced by the City on March 30, and the cancellation of Canada Day events. It enables event organizers to make sound decisions in support of public health efforts and their business needs, access insurance, support impacted employees, manage sponsors and develop alternative approaches, such as virtual events.
The decision to extend the cancellation of City-led events and third-party permits has been made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, the Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service, and major event organizers, and supports the directive that physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. The need to sustain essential services also limits the City's ability to provide support to third-party event organizers to ensure public safety.
To mitigate the impacts of these cancellations, the City will repurpose grant funding that was previously approved by City Council, in order to support festivals that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The City's Cultural Festivals Recovery Program will provide financial and in-kind support to:
- Defray financial losses for festivals that were cancelled due to COVID-19
- Assist festival organizers to meet payments due to their suppliers, including artists and small businesses
- Help festival organizers maintain critical operations to survive this year and prepare for their next festival
- Support planning and purchases that help improve the public health and safety practices of festival organizers and
- Aid collaborative efforts in areas such as event planning, insurance, volunteer training and marketing to strengthen Toronto's network of festivals.
Lake Ontario Water Levels and Flood Mitigation Update
As of May 14, 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 week of dry and cool weather, lake levels have declined slightly in recent days. Although heavy rain is expected to cause modest increases this coming week, projections are anticipating water levels to remain below minor flooding levels for the remainder of this season.
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. Emergency management plans are in place if new extreme weather patterns develop that result in new flood conditions. 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.
Deep Lake Water Cooling Supply Expansion Class Environmental Assessment Study - Public Consultation Event
Enwave Energy Corporation and the City of Toronto are co-proponents for an Environmental Assessment (EA) to expand deep lake cooling supply infrastructure.
Deep lake cooling provides an energy efficient, renewable resource supply for cooling buildings in the downtown area. It uses large intake pipes to draw water from Lake Ontario, through the Toronto Island Water Filtration Plant, and pump underwater and underground to the John Street Pumping Station/Enwave Energy Transfer Station and Simcoe Street Cooling Plant for distribution throughout the downtown.
This EA proposes expanding supply through use of a new intake pipe in the lake, and new underwater/underground pipe infrastructure to deliver it from the Toronto Island Water Filtration Plant to the city.
The proposed construction plan would utilize an existing shaft at 28 Rees Street and Lake Shore Boulevard West, and new access shafts near the Toronto Island Water Filtration Plant.
The City and Enwave are undertaking virtual public consultations based on the expert advice of the Toronto Medical Officer of Health to practice physical distancing. One-on-one telephone consultations are being scheduled for May 21, from 5pm - 8pm. Alternate time slots are available as well. You will have an opportunity to view information online to learn more about the recommended solution, ask questions, and share your comments.
- Visit the City's project information website: toronto.ca/DLWCexpansion
- View a video presentation and/or register for a telephone consultation: https://dlwc-consultation.com/
- View the background presentation materials: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/963d-ppfa-dlwc-ea-pic-panels.pdf
Stay, Play & Learn at Home
Looking for something new to try at home? The City has compiled a list of dozens of free recreation, exercise, and arts and culture activities for all ages.
You can tour a museum exhibit or watch a live concert, play interactive games and do DIY science experiments, try an exercise class or a new recipe, and even tune into a livecam of owls or build your own greenhouse. The listings are searchable by different age groups, with a number of activities for everyone. Click here to access it.
The list will be updated with new activities and links on a regular basis.
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. [email protected] 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 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 [email protected]
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.
Email: [email protected]
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services.