Pilot Project to Test Civilian Response to Mental Health 911 Calls

Pilot Project to Test Civilian Response to Mental Health 911 Calls

Civilian experts rather than police officers will respond to 911 calls dealing with non-violent mental health crises, under a pilot program approved by Toronto City Council this week. The plan calls for four crisis support teams, responding to calls in different parts of the city.

Its introduction follows incidents of people with mental illness being killed by police, including some instances where there appeared to be no imminent danger to the public or police. Because many of those killed were racialized members of society, the call …

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Learn all About Budget 2021!

Learn all About Budget 2021!

COVID has had a devastating impact on the city’s budget, increasing costs and reducing revenue. Although the federal and provincial governments have provided funding to cover some of the costs, Toronto has been left with a budget hole of almost $1 Billion.

We are, thankfully, legally obliged to approve a balanced budget, with no deficit for operating expenses. So the Budget Committee, which begins deliberations next week, needs to find a way to fill the whole.

Certainly, we expect the other levels of government to cover the …

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Yonge Street Transformation

Yonge Street Transformation

The future of Willowdale looks much brighter today after Council strongly supported the plan to Transform Yonge between Sheppard and Finch.

When it’s completed, we’ll have a wide boulevard for pedestrians, restaurant patios, plantings, and a bicycle lane separated from both cars and pedestrians. The space will be created by reducing traffic lanes to two in each direction, plus turn lanes and bus bays.

The plan – which was strongly supported by community leaders, urban experts and advocates for pedestrian and cycling safety – will change our …

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A Vacant Homes Tax Could Help Level the Playing Field

A Vacant Homes Tax Could Help Level the Playing Field

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

Though many haven’t been so lucky, if you’ve been able to afford to rent a property through the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 may have offered you some relief in rental rates or availability. But experts warn that this relief will be short-lived.  Before we return to a period where housing availability is a big problem, it’s time to discourage people from leaving entire homes empty, often for years at a time.

Earlier this year, I advocated that the time was right for …

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COUNCILLOR FILION, RESIDENTS AND ADVOCATES CALL FOR IMPROVED YONGE STREET

COUNCILLOR FILION, RESIDENTS AND ADVOCATES CALL FOR IMPROVED YONGE STREET

COUNCILLOR FILION, RESIDENTS AND ADVOCATES CALL FOR IMPROVED YONGE STREET

TORONTO – Residents in Willowdale joined local Councillor John Filion along with advocates from across the city at a virtual press event this morning calling on Toronto City Council to support recommendations for the reconstruction of Yonge Street between Sheppard and Finch Avenues.

The report REimagining Yonge, returning to the City’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee on December 1, would revitalize Yonge St. with much wider sidewalks, enough room for planting, benches and outdoor patios plus a bike …

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Survey on Community Based Crisis Response

Survey on Community Based Crisis Response

The City of Toronto is looking for ways to better respond to non-violent crisis calls.

Community-based crisis response provides an alternative to police attendance at mental health crisis and/or substance use related calls, wellness checks, and non-violent disputes between community members (like neighbourly disputes) among other incidents. It can take a number of different forms but generally involves sending staff with training and/or experience in mental health care, non-violent conflict resolution, harm reduction, and de-escalation of crisis situations rather than police.

The City is inviting your comments …

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Rebuild Report Requires New Deal for Cities

Rebuild Report Requires New Deal for Cities

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

Toronto has an enormous amount of work ahead of it to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Getting to where we want to be may require a total re-think about government services, who provides them, and how we pay for them.

This week Council debated a 238 page recovery report, available online in three parts (part 1 / part 2 / part 3).  It includes 83 recommendations from the City’s Office of Rebuild and Recovery that addresses topics including public health, …

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Provincial Government to Ban Ranked Ballots

Provincial Government to Ban Ranked Ballots

On Tuesday, the Ford Government tabled legislation that if passed would repeal the ability of Ontario cities to run elections using ranked ballots. Ranked ballots allow voters to select candidates in a preferred order and would require a candidate to get a majority of the overall vote to be declared the winner. The “first past the post” system, simply requiring more votes anyone else to win, can lead to the election of candidates with relatively few votes in a crowded field. Most political parties, including …

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The Future of Our Roads is Arriving

The Future of Our Roads is Arriving

by Markus O’Brien Fehr, Chief of Staff

When we imagine a “future city” one of the first things that jumps to mind is transportation.  From The Jetsons cartoons of the 1960s to the Back to the Future movies of the 1980s, futuristic cars have been imagined, though never actually realized.  We’ve heard about driverless cars coming at some point in the future.  Those that think that these are still a long ways off may need to think again.

This week, the City of Toronto announced an agreement …

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City Combats Anti-East Asian Racism

City Combats Anti-East Asian Racism

Throughout the pandemic, there has been a rise in incidents of racism against all East Asian communities in Toronto, including in our community in Willowdale.

There have been over 150 incidents of anti-East Asian Racism across the city, since the start of the pandemic. That’s why the City launched a social media campaign to bring attention to the need to combat racism in our city, including anti-East Asian racism earlier this week.

The campaign includes a video that showcases the real impact racism has on the lives …

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Priority Bus Lanes to be Debated at City Council

Next week, Council will consider a recommendation to install about 8.5kms of priority bus lanes on Eglinton Ave E, Kingston Rd and Morningside Ave. These lanes seek to create a more frequent, reliable, and faster transit service along the corridor by giving buses a route uninterrupted by other traffic.

While Eglinton Ave is the only route recommended for implementation this year, a report to the TTC board has also flagged Finch Ave E and Steeles Ave W as priorities to be looked at in “2022 and …

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Vision Of A Main Street On Yonge Still Strong

Vision Of A Main Street On Yonge Still Strong

Image: Community Outreach staff member Jesse James speaks to a group of business leaders during the BIA Brunch Meeting this past October.

Yonge Street is in desperate need of a makeover. But more than a just new layer of asphalt and concrete, our main street needs a new way of thinking — one that makes it more functional for our growing community and the many uses demanded of our public space.

Residents in Willowdale want their stretch of Yonge to be a safe place to …

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