Community Newsletter: December 21, 2023

December 21, 2023 edition of Councillor Alejandra Bravo's Community Newsletter

Neighbour --

City Council met last week to discuss a number of key items, including our submission to the federal Housing Accelerator Fund, strengthening our public and not-for-profit child care system, a plan to responsibly grow our night economy, and several pieces of our work on climate action. I’d like to zero in on one item in particular—the Ontario-Toronto New Deal, negotiated by Mayor Chow and the provincial government to support Toronto’s financial sustainability. 

For too long, both the provincial and federal governments have been downloading responsibilities to our city without the financial support required to sustain them. Our transit system supports the movement of all of southern Ontario, our highways are predominantly used by people who live outside of Toronto, and we’ve seen unprecedented need for emergency shelter from refugee claimants who are fleeing violence and persecution and need support. 

In the Ontario-Toronto New Deal, the City and Province have come to an agreement about shared priorities and financial support to aid the City’s financial sustainability. The terms of the agreement include:

  • $300 million in one-time funding for TTC operations to support ridership recovery, sustainable operations, and safety. 
  • $330 million over three years to support the operations of two new transit lines—the Eglinton East LRT and the Finch West LRT.
  • $600 million over three years to support the operation of shelter beds, contingent on the federal government providing funding for their responsibility to refugee claimants seeking shelter.
  • Provincial responsibility for at least $1.9 billion in projected costsassociated with the operation and maintenance of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway. Going forward, the province will take full responsibility for these two highways. 
  • $758 million to support the purchase of 55 new subways cars for Line 2. This funding represents one-third of the purchase cost. 
    • The City of Toronto has committed funding for an additional one-third, with the purchase contingent on the federal government providing the remaining one-third. 
  • $342 million over three years through the Building Faster Fund if Toronto exceeds our yearly housing targets by 125%. 

The Province of Ontario has also agreed to support the City of Toronto through debt financing, the new Ontario Infrastructure Bank, potential management of City reserve funds through the Investment Management Corporation of Ontario for improved returns, and by aligning the City’s Vacant Home Tax and Province’s Non-Resident Speculation Tax. 

This deal is an important step forward. Now, we need the federal government to step up and honour their responsibilities.

Over the summer, the federal government announced $97 million in funding for emergency shelter support for refugee claimants, but the City has still not received a cent of this money. . That funding covers only part of the costs r paid by the City of Toronto this year—the federal government needs to commit an additional $103 million to cover their responsibilities for 2023. Moving forward, $250 million per year for shelter for refugee claimants in our city is needed. 

We also need the federal government to come forward with one-third of the cost of new subway trains for Line 2, support to expand capacity in the base shelter system, reimbursement for outstanding costs related to the COVID-19 response, and funding for flood protection along Lake Ontario. All of these costs have been historically borne by all three levels of government, and not the City alone. That’s why we urgently need the federal government to come to the table. 

You can read more about the Ontario-Toronto New Deal Agreement here

This update is my last e-newsletter of 2023—I wish you a very happy holidays and all the best for 2024. I look forward to our continued work together as a community in the new year. 


Alejandra Bravo
City Councillor • Ward 9 • Davenport
Chair, Economic & Community Development Committee

In this edition

  • City Council Recap
  • Snow & Ice Response Plan
  • Updates to Winter Services Plan
  • Ring in New Year's Eve 
  • Tips for a Sustainable Holiday
  • In the community
  • Other updates

City Council Recap

Federal Housing Accelerator Fund: City Council approved the City's submission to the Federal Housing Accelerator Fund which provides funding to build much-needed housing. Today, Mayor Olivia Chow and Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Toronto will receive $471 million through the fund to build 11,780 new homes. 

Implementing the Grant Faulkner Inquest: People who are residing outdoors have a right to safety. While considering the Toronto Fire Services' 2022 Annual Report, City Council adopted my motion for Toronto Fire Services to work with City staff on incorporating the recommendations contained in the 2018 Grant Faulkner inquest while developing the updated Interdepartmental Service Protocol for Homeless People Camping in Public Spaces. 

Growing the Night Economy: City Council considered three items which will grow our city's night economy by expanding the types of nighttime activities allowed across Toronto. The reports include tools for responsible growth and City Council adopted my motions asking for further work on liquor licensing and by-law enforcement. 

Last Chance to Help Small Businesses: I was glad to work with Councillor Paula Fletcher to support small businesses by moving a motion to request the federal government extend the repayment deadline for the Canada Emergency Business Account to December 31, 2024. In our community's I've heard that many businesses face closure if the federal government does not extend their repayment and partial loan forgiveness deadlines. 

Road and Intersection Safety Review on Winona Drive: Following a tragic fatal incident earlier this month at Winona Drive & St. Clair Ave West, I moved a motion with Councillor Josh Matlow to request an urgent safety review of the intersection. In addition, we've asked for a review of Winona Drive between St. Clair & Barrie, and at the intersection of Winona & Barrie. We've asked for recommendations to make this area safer to report back to community council in the first quarter of 2024. 

Snow & Ice Response Plan

This month, flyers about the City’s Snow & Ice Response Plan were delivered to mailboxes across the city. Toronto faces an annual snowfall of around 130 cm, with the City’s snow clearing plan covering everything from salting and plowing roads, sidewalks and bikeways to safeguarding emergency and transit vehicles. With a fleet of approximately 1,400 snow-clearing equipment, the City clears Toronto's vast 14,700 lane-km of roads, 7,900 km of sidewalks and 956 km of cycle tracks. 

But that's not all – twenty-four-hour patrols monitor road conditions while dedicated staff stay one step ahead, tracking weather forecasts and pavement temperatures.

Stay informed, stay safe and embrace the winter magic with Toronto's Snow & Ice Response Plan.

Updstes to Winter Services Plan

City of Toronto shared important updates about 2023/24 Winter Services Plan that outline how it will support those experiencing homelessness during the winter months. When the Winter Services Plan was released in October, the City noted that the Plan would continue to evolve as City staff monitor demand for Warming Centres and continue to search for appropriate locations to add capacity.

Expanded Winter Services capacity

The City worked collaboratively with partners at Exhibition Place to confirm use of the Better Living Centre as a 24-hour respite site that will remain operational until early March 2024 as Exhibition Place requires the site back for a prior reservation. The City’s operating partners are coordinating a gradual opening of this respite site, welcoming approximately 40 people per day through referrals between December 21 to December 26. Once fully operational, this space will have capacity for approximately 240 people.

It is important to note that many of these spaces will be already accounted for as the City will refer people from existing outdoor locations. Securing use of this site will add critical capacity for January and February, the coldest months of the winter season.

In addition, the City’s service partner Covenant House opened a new 24-hour winter respite program on November 15 located at 20 Gerrard St. E. This program is providing 30 much-needed spaces for youth experiencing homelessness and will remain continuously open until April 15, 2024.

Through close collaboration with various operating partners, the City has confirmed expanded operating hours at drop-in programs this winter. Approximately 140 extra operating hours have been added at 10 City-funded drop-in locations throughout the city for the duration of the winter season.

These updates are in addition to the elements of the Winter Plan previously announced:

  • 180 spaces have been added in the shelter system
  • a 24-hour winter respite site with capacity for approximately 50 individuals identifying as males is open
  • the City is activating three Warming Centres when temperatures reach minus five degrees Celsius or colder. A fourth site will be available soon, for a total of 180 Warming Centre spaces
  • began to tenant 101 of 275 housing units expected to come online through the winter
  • additional street outreach teams encouraging people to come indoors when temperatures reach minus 15 degrees Celsius
  • opening 30 additional surge spaces when temperatures reach minus 15 degrees Celsius

The City expects demand for shelter space to continue to rise throughout the winter season into 2024 for numerous reasons including insufficient affordable housing supply, increasing living costs, inadequate wage and income supports and an increasing number of refugee claimants arriving in Toronto.

The Plan will continue to evolve as City staff monitor demand and continue to search for appropriate locations to add capacity. While the additional shelter space created by the Plan will help many in need this winter, the City acknowledges that it may not be sufficient to address the increasing demand for shelter and housing.

Funding needed

The City is thankful to the Province for its commitment of $600 million over the next three years to support Toronto’s shelter system. However, this funding is conditional on the Federal Government coming forward with a commitment to contribute their share – full costs of our refugee response and properly fund the immigration system. This level of support will help ensure that people coming to Canada have a dignified entry and connection to services, and it will support Toronto in continuing to serve people experiencing homelessness in the City.

Ring in New Year's Eve

Celebrate the arrival of 2024 with a display of fireworks at midnight, visible from anywhere, with a view of Toronto’s inner harbour.

Free activities are available leading up to the fireworks at three locations along Toronto’s downtown waterfront:

  • Sherbourne Common, 61 Dockside Dr.
  • Toronto Music Garden, 476 Queens Quay W.
  • Exhibition Common at Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W.

Alternative viewing locations along the waterfront include:

  • Sugar Beach Park, 11 Dockside Dr.
  • Harbour Square Park, 25 Queens Quay W.
  • Little Norway Park, 659 Queens Quay W.
  • HTO Park, 339 Queens Quay W.

If you'd rather stay cozy during the countdown, tune in to a live stream of the event via the City of Toronto Culture YouTube channel.

Please note that there are no fireworks at Toronto City Hall or Nathan Phillips Square. However, residents and visitors can enjoy the glittering lights and skating at Nathan Phillips Square until 10 p.m. before heading to the waterfront to watch the fireworks. Find more information on the City’s New Year’s Eve webpage.

Tips for a Sustainable Holiday

As we gear up for the festive season, let's prioritize celebrating sustainably and minimizing our environmental footprint. Did you know that more than 50 per cent of food waste in Toronto homes is avoidable? Let's join hands this holiday season to combat this issue and make our celebrations eco-friendly.

Q: How can I minimize food waste during the holidays?

A: Great question! You can minimize food waste by practicing a few simple habits:

  • Storage Matters: Keep your food fresh using proper fridge storage.
  • Freeze Leftovers: Instead of letting leftovers go to waste, save them in reusable containers for future enjoyment.
  • Smart Shopping: Before heading to the store, check your pantry and make a list to avoid unnecessary purchases and save money.

Q: How can I ensure my celebrations are low waste?

A: It's easier than you think! Consider the following:

  • Thoughtful Gifts: Opt for certificates, experiences or second-hand items that reduce packaging and waste.
  • Reusable Choices: Use durable, reusable items for holiday meals and avoid single-use plastics.
  • Creative Wrapping: Wrap gifts with newspaper or fabrics to reduce waste while adding a personal touch.
  • Plan Meals: Reduce food waste by planning your meals thoughtfully, ensuring you use all ingredients effectively.

Let's come together to impact our environment positively. All small actions can make a big difference. Use Waste Wizard to learn what goes where. 

In the community

Kicked off the holiday season at the Perth Holiday Market at Perth PS! So many fantastic vendors.

With the help of these playground aficionados, we celebrated the opening of the new & improved playground at Perth Square Park.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for a community meeting to discuss the proposed development at 1117 Queen St W. I’m grateful for the questions, insights and community knowledge shared.

It was a pleasure to stop by Dewson Street Junior Public School and meet Principal Dan Smart, along with College Promenade BIA rep Maria Judas, at the Dewson School Council's Holiday Poinsettia Fundraiser. Poinsettias are a beautiful way to celebrate the holidays this December! 

It was fantastic to celebrate the holiday season with a community meal at Joseph J Piccininni CRC. Thanks to all the organizers, staff, and volunteers for their work on this special event for seniors in our community.

I was glad to join TTCRiders and transit advocates outside of Dufferin Station this morning to remind Toronto MPs that it’s time for the federal government to chip in for the purchase of new Line 2 trains.

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