October 13th, 2023 edition of Councillor Alejandra Bravo's Community Newsletter
At this week’s meeting of City Council, we considered a number of key items on priorities I’ve heard from people in our community and expanding access to essential services. I’ve highlighted a few of them here:
Vacant Home Tax Update: While we’re in an unprecedented housing crisis, 19,598 homes in Toronto were declared or deemed vacant in 2023. This year was the first with our City’s Vacant Home Tax, which incentivizes owners of vacant properties to make more housing available for people to live in. Council is moving forward on this work, by increasing the Vacant Home Tax from 1% to 3% for 2024. A minimum of $10 million from this increase will be dedicated towards City acquisition of properties, in order to increase our supply of affordable, socially-owned rental homes.
HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan: We received an update on the City’s HousingTO Action Plan, including that the City has now completed 1082 new affordable and supportive homes for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. We’ve approved 3340 new affordable rental homes, and allocated $46M for non-profit organizations to acquire 260 affordable rental homes. Toronto has also launched a new dashboard where you can track the City’s progress on HousingTO commitments, for more transparency and accountability.
Canada-Wide Universal Student Nutrition Program: No child should go to school hungry due to rising food costs, but right now in Toronto, 28% of food bank clients are children. Toronto has joined cities from across Canada to call on the federal government to implement its promise for a National School Food Program in the 2024 Federal Budget.
Just Transition for Vehicle-For-Hire Electrification: City Council has adopted a requirement for all vehicles in Toronto’s vehicle-for-hire (taxis, limos, and rideshare) industry to be zero emissions by 2030. This is part of our city’s TransformTO plan to reach net zero and meet our climate goals. As part of this, we’re making sure it’s a just transition where no one is left behind. Through a multi-step approach, we’re supporting drivers and incentivizing vehicle electrification through an incentive program.
ConnectTO: Toronto is developing a comprehensive public approach to internet use and access. We know that access to high-quality and fast internet for all is important to build a more equitable city, including increasing areas of our city where people can access free internet. City staff will be consulting widely to inform an expanded public Wi-Fi strategy that will report back to Council in early 2025.
City Councillor • Ward 9 • Davenport
Chair, Economic & Community Development Committee
In this edition
- Deadline Approaching: Property Tax, Water & Solid Waste Relief Programs
- Update on St. Clair State of Good Repair Projects
- Periodic Lane Reductions and Sidewalk Closures at Fairbank Station for Deficiency Repair Works
- DPNCHC Community Forums: Understand the needs of Black residents and service users
- Clay and Paper Theatre's A Mischief of Magpies
- Short-Term Rental Implementation Update
- Respiratory Virus Season
- Brockton Boo-fest
- Other updates
Deadline Approaching: Property Tax, Water & Solid Waste Relief Programs
The City of Toronto offers several programs to provide relief from property tax, water and solid waste utility charges for seniors & low-income residents. These programs are:
- Property Tax Increase Cancellation Program
- Property Tax Increase Deferral Program
- Water Rebate Program
- Solid Waste Rebate Program
The deadline to apply is October 31, 2023. You can learn more about eligibility and how to apply on the City's website.
Update on St. Clair State of Good Repair Projects
The following is an update on TTC’s progress to implement infrastructure upgrades on the 512 St Clair streetcar route:
The work is being phased to facilitate a return of streetcar service between St Clair West Station and Lansdowne, while long term third-party construction continues at the Caledonia Bridge. Specifically, TTC is completing upgrades at Earlscourt Loop (Lansdowne), Oakwood Loop and on track and underground water and power infrastructure between St Clair West Station and Lansdowne first. TTC is coordinating its own projects with multiple third-party works (Metrolinx, City of Toronto, and Toronto Water) planned along the corridor to reduce the overall duration that buses need to operate in place of streetcars.
Construction Work completed to date:
- Lubricator and streetcar track upgrades at Earlscourt loop and Oakwood loop
- Overhead power upgrades at St Clair and Vaughan Road intersection
- New overhead power upgrades at St Clair/Bathurst and St Clair/Lansdowne. Toronto Water will begin excavation and prepare a new watermain valve on the east side of St Clair Ave West between Earlscourt Avenue and Lansdowne Avenue. These valves are vital to minimize the number of properties affected when watermains are upgraded.
- Rail grinding from Lansdowne to Gunns Loop to begin next week to smooth the rails.
- Full track replacement at St Clair West Station.
- City of Toronto Caledonia bridge rehabilitation work continues on the north side lane and sidewalk (stage 1). This is a long term project please see the City’s website for updates: Construction Notice (toronto.ca)
Improving St Clair Bus Service
- The City of Toronto has implemented 30 meter no standing zones at every bus stop along the 512 route. Police Parking Enforcement are enforcing accordingly.
- Additional measures are being investigated to improve St. Clair Bus Service which will require approval of Council.
Periodic Lane Reductions and Sidewalk Closures at Fairbank Station for Deficiency Repair Works
DPNCHC Community Forums: Understanding the needs of Black residents and service users
Clay and Paper Theatre's A Mischief of Magpies
This year, Clay and Paper Theatre presents A Mischief of Magpies – or the Magpie Club, a free program of workshops for youth 12 to 18, in stilting and costume and mask making for Night of Dread. It’s also an opportunity for young people to create and share their vision and message for a better future for themselves and their community through performance and play. Guided and assisted by Clay and Paper Theatre artist facilitators, the Magpies will work towards creating a short opening performance for Night of Dread 2023 on Saturday, October 28 in Christie Pits Park.
All workshops take place at Dufferin Grove Park at the Field House and can accommodate up to 15 youth participants. The program will also have 3 to 4 adult workshop facilitators onsite.
To register and reserve your spot, please email [email protected]
For all Magpie Club info, date details, plus workshop artist facilitator descriptions, please check out Clay and Paper Theatre's website.
Short-Term Rental Implementation Update
The City of Toronto asks residents to share their feedback on the short-term rental bylaw at virtual and in-person public consultations on two consecutive Tuesdays -- October 17 and 24 or via an online survey. The City is evaluating the implementation of the short-term rental bylaw to examine its progress and identify areas for improvement.
Complaints, compliance and enforcement data, and information on the revenue received from operators and companies will also be reviewed to identify required bylaw updates.
Consultation and registration details are available on the City’s webpage: www.toronto.ca/ShortTermRentalUpdate.
Respiratory Virus Season
Residents will be encouraged by Toronto Public Health to get their yearly flu vaccine and updated COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to vaccination, self-protective measures work and residents are encouraged to practice them together:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Wear a well-fitting mask in crowded indoor settings, especially if at higher risk of getting very sick
- Stay home if you feel sick, even when symptoms are mild, and test for COVID-19.
- Choose well-ventilated spaces whenever possible
Toronto Public Health is making free rapid antigen tests available to residents at several City facilities across Toronto. A complete list of locations is available on the City’s COVID-19 webpage: www.toronto.ca/COVID19Testing.
- Wanda Nanibush and Georgiana Uhlyarik win Toronto Book Award for Moving the Museum
- Toronto Fire Services celebrates Fire Prevention Week by reminding residents “Cooking safety starts with you!”
- Toronto Public Health launches ‘Fight the Flu & COVID-19’ vaccination campaign
- Updated intersection closures on Adelaide Street for streetcar track installation
- Terry Fox Legacy Art Project unveiled beside the Toronto Music Garden
- City of Toronto and Wigwamen Inc. celebrate the acquisition of 23 permanently affordable homes through the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition Program