COVID-19 and Ward 10 Updates - February 25th
I know we're all tired, frustrated, and want this period to be over. But we can't let our guard down now. Until the new COVID variants of concern are under control and it's safe to re-open, we have to stay the course and protect one another.
To slow the spread of COVID-19, this week the City announced the extension of the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted major outdoor events to July 1, including Canada Day parades, festivals and fireworks.
Although it is difficult news that many of our celebrated in-person events will be delayed for another year, by following public health guidelines and looking out for one another, we will get through this sooner.
In this Edition
- COVID Rates Drop in Long Term Care and Province Provides Update on Vaccines
- Updates from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health
- Securing Affordable Housing in the Palace Arms Redevelopment
- Community Consultation for Affordable Housing at 150 Queens Wharf Road in CityPlace
- Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan Progress Updates
- Registration for Expanded CaféTO Program Opens Tomorrow
- Tonight - Public Meeting on The Esplanade and Mill Street New Cycling Infrastructure and Safety Improvements
- 689 King Street West Development Application – Community Consultation Meeting
- Live Virtual Music and Dance Performances by Jamii
- Resources and Webinars for Small Businesses
- City of Toronto COVID-19 Vaccine Website
- COVID-19 Information and Resources
1. COVID Rates Drop in Long Term Care and Province Provides Update on Vaccines
Earlier this week, Mayor Tory and Dr. de Villa delivered encouraging news about vaccines and the situation in Toronto’s long-term care homes. Toronto Public Health has seen a substantial decline in testing positivity rates among long-term care home residents in the city, who have all now had access to both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Testing positivity in homes has fallen from 10.9 percent in November, to 0.6 percent as of the week of February 7.This demonstrates that vaccines and the efforts of people and organizations to safeguard vulnerable residents are having a significant and positive impact.
As more supply of COVID vaccines becomes available, the City is working with our Federal and Provincial partners to scale up our efforts. This week, vaccinations resumed for frontline paramedics, in partnership with Sunnybrook and Humber River Hospitals. The City has also partnered with Michael Garron Hospital to begin delivery of vaccinations for frontline firefighters, who are responding to emergency medical incidents.
Following the Province's priority system, other healthcare workers will now begin to receive their first shots:
- supervised consumption site staff
- mobile COVID-19 testing teams
- community health centre staff
- acute care workers
- home and community care workers
Our hospital partners will be reaching out to each of these groups of people as vaccine operations continue this week.
Recently, the Province announced that adults age 80 and above will be prioritized next for vaccinations. The Ontario Government is developing a website and a telephone hotline for adults over age 80 to book vaccination appointments. This booking system is scheduled to become available on March 15.
The Province’s proposed timeline for vaccinations to begin for other age groups, is as follows, depending on vaccine supply:
April 15: People age 75 and over are eligible
May 1: People age 70 and over are eligible
June 1: People are 65 and over are eligible
July 1: People age 60 and over are eligible
The City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health are supporting the administration of the vaccine, in accordance with the Province’s framework and with local planning. More details will be shared as they become available.
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 increase in COVID cases that have screened positive for mutations, meaning they are likely to be the variants of concern (such as variant B.1.1.7, first identified in the United Kingdom). While it takes time to confirm variants of concern due to sequencing requirements, on Monday, Dr. de Villa reported that we had 511 cases in Toronto that screened positive for mutations. By Wednesday, the number had increased to 710 cases.
Dr. de Villa confirmed that the variants of concern are something we need to be worried about, because they are highly transmissible and capable of causing severe illness. However, they can be contained if we continue to follow public health guidelines and stay home as much as possible, while wearing a mask and keeping our distance any time we have to be outside. These actions will help stop the variants from spreading and keep us all safe until the point where vaccine supplies increase significantly.
3. Securing Affordable Housing in the Palace Arms Redevelopment
As our downtown neighbourhoods grow, it's critical that we expand and improve our supply of affordable housing. After years of work, the City has secured affordable housing in the Palace Arms redevelopment at 950 King Street West, as part of the new purpose-built rental project.
Affordable housing replacement has been my top priority in this project, and I’ve been clear that I would not accept anything less than deeply-affordable units as part of any rental housing redevelopment on this site. Through hard negotiations and community advocacy, not only did we achieve full replacement of the 12,000 square feet of affordable housing currently on-site, but we fought to secure more: a total of 15,000 square feet of deeply affordable housing, with rent-geared-to-income units.
For the current tenants of the Palace Arms, the affordable housing package includes their right to return, securing units in the redevelopment at similar rents to what they currently pay, along with monthly rent-gap payments, moving costs, and access to Housing Support Services.
What does this all mean? Frankly, despite not being able to legally require full replacement at the developer's expense (due to the City's Dwelling Room Replacement Policy being under appeal), we fought hard to meet the spirit of the policy. We were able to achieve significant affordable housing space, an improvement in the quality of this housing – going from rooms with shared washrooms and kitchens, to fully self-contained apartments – and truly, deeply affordable units for people on social assistance.
The affordable housing secured today would not have been possible without the hard work of so many. I would like to thank everyone who was a part of making it happen, including our local community, who championed affordable housing since the beginning.
4. Community Consultation for Affordable Housing at 150 Queens Wharf Road in CityPlace
We can't tackle Toronto's housing crisis without creating more housing options that people of all incomes can afford. A range of urgent initiatives is needed to address the many dimensions of this crisis – which is intertwined with poverty and inequality – including adequate emergency shelter capacity, supportive housing, rent-geared-to-income housing, and purpose-built market rental housing.
Block 36 North, also known as, 150 Queens Wharf Road, is the last block of undeveloped land in CityPlace. This vacant site is located immediately north of the Fort York library branch and just south of the future Rail Deck Park. The land is owned by the City and has been earmarked for new affordable rental housing.
I have been working for a number of years to have affordable housing built at this site. In 2015, City Council requested the Affordable Housing Office to fast-track construction of new affordable rental housing on Block 36 North through the then-new Open Door Program. Subsequently, City staff reported to Council to recommend approval of the proposal, and consultation meetings were held in the community. In 2016, I secured Council approval for construction, but unfortunately, the project did not advance. In early 2020, I again urged staff to re-initiate the project and to advance construction on new affordable housing units.
I am pleased to share today that the affordable housing proposal for 150 Queens Wharf Road is active and advancing. Please join me online or by phone on Monday, March 8, from 7 - 9pm for a Community Consultation Meeting with staff from City Planning, the Housing Secretariat, and CreateTO, to learn more about the preliminary development concept, including the project proposal and timeline. For instructions on how to join and participate in the Community Consultation Meeting on March 8, click here.
The affordable housing at Queens Wharf Road has been part of the City's vision for the community for more than 25 years. This development is part of the Housing Now Initiative and the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan, along with the City's target of creating 40,000 affordable rental and supportive housing units by 2030. To learn more about the Housing Now initiative, visit: www.createto.ca/housingnow
5. Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan Progress Updates
We’ve reached another important milestone for the Bathurst Quay waterfront plaza: the detailed design contract has been awarded to PFS Studios, a leading Canadian landscape architecture practice. This multi-purpose public space will connect other Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Plan improvement projects, including the recently completed waterfront promenade, an upcoming Ireland Park Foundation culture hub, and the Canada Malting Silo revitalization.
Stay tuned for more information on opportunities to have input into the detailed design.
6. Registration for Expanded CaféTO Program Opens Tomorrow
Starting on Friday morning, local restaurant and bar operators interested in expanding their outdoor dining space into the curb lane and onto sidewalks can register online using a clear process. Pending public health orders, approved CaféTO curb lane locations from the first window would be installed as soon as mid-May – almost two months earlier than last year and in time for the May long weekend.
The second window to register will open as soon as the first closes. Those who register during the second window can expect to have their curb lane location installed in June – prior to the Canada Day weekend. More registration windows will be available and full details will be posted online.
An online webinar for local operators is planned for Tuesday, March 2 at 9:30 a.m. The webinar will review the program requirements and help answer any questions. The link to sign up for the webinar can be found here, and the video will be available on demand for any interested operators, following the event.
Details about CaféTO, including how to register, are available here.
7. Tonight - Public Meeting on The Esplanade and Mill Street New Cycling Infrastructure and Safety Improvements
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.
8. 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.
9. Live Virtual Music and Dance Performances by Jamii
Jamii (Swahili for "Community”) is a vibrant arts organization active in The Esplanade and downtown east community. They are planning a beautiful live experience to be viewed online this coming week, which they would like to share with all residents of Ward 10.
Join them at facebook.com/JamiiEsplanade to watch a series of short, live performances called “MIX”. MIX is a mini-concert, a dance performance, and a site-specific multi-perspective experience – to be enjoyed from the comfort of your home. The performances will be held between March 3 to March 6th at 7pm sharp.
This is a project co-produced with Corpus Dance, and co-presented with Canadian Stage.
Sign up to receive Jamii’s newsletter at jamii.ca to be notified of their other creative events & performances in the Esplanade community.
10. 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:
General Small Business Tax Literacy Seminar
Friday, February 26, 9:30 a.m. to noon – Register
Tuesday, March 2, 9:30 a.m. - Learn more and register here,
11. 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.
12. 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.