The Need for Real Change

The Need for Real Change

Dear Neighbours,

Too often, discussions about prejudice and social injustice stay largely within the circles of those experiencing the sting of discriminatory treatment. But this week, who among us hasn’t been forced to examine our own actions – or collective inaction – on issues of race and inequality?

My office has received an unprecedented number of emails – 3,400 at last count – from Torontonians responding to the horrific “I Can’t Breathe” murder of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, captured on video and …

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COVID-19 Community Update (May 29)

COVID-19 Community Update (May 29)

Dear Neighbours,

As we move into another month of pandemic, almost everyone I speak with is puzzling over when they might resume some version of normal and what they should be doing to stay safe until then.

Is it now safer now to go out? When should I wear a mask and where do I get one? Should business be starting up again? Who is most at risk?

The answers to these questions can change daily as we learn more and move through various stages of the pandemic. …

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Yonge Street Now and in the Future

Yonge Street Now and in the Future

Dear Neighbours,

This week, my eyes are on the Yonge Street pavement but l’m looking towards the future.

Whenever we emerge from the terrible time of COVID, handshaking isn’t the only normal we shouldn’t be returning to. Many people are thinking about a city with more public outdoor space, wider sidewalks for pedestrians, more opportunities for social distancing, safe cycling networks to provide a better alternative to crowded transit or car travel, and outdoor patios to help restaurants recover.

Sounds a lot like Transform Yonge, a plan for …

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Face Masks – COVID Community Update

Face Masks – COVID Community Update

Dear Neighbours,

Since the start of the pandemic, the changing advice on face masks has led many residents to contact my office, seeking clarity. Who should wear a mask and when? Why has advice changed? Should everyone be required to wear a mask when out in public?

Because we should rely on Public Health and medical professionals for most of these answers, I have been reluctant to venture into this territory. But because it is difficult to find a comprehensive official source for this information, I am …

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John’s Update (May 12)

John’s Update (May 12)

Dear Neighbours,

First, the indisputably good news: Thanks to a very high level of co-operation from residents over the past two months, we have avoided the horrifying scenario under which the hospital system could have been overwhelmed. The curve of new COVID cases appears to be flattening, across the province and in Toronto.

Beyond that, the virus remains present, and the future remains uncertain at best.

We are faced with a jumble of confusing, sometimes contradictory, indicators: job losses and the stock market are going up at the …

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John’s Update (May 8)

John’s Update (May 8)

Dear Neighbours,

Today, Ontario recorded 459 new COVID cases — the highest in a week. There were 44 deaths, more than the day before. In general, both Ontario and Toronto has seen a leveling off, but not a consistent decline, in new cases. Our capacity for testing and contact tracing, essential to halting the spread of the virus, is improving but still not where it needs to be.

So why did the Province decide it’s time to start opening things back up, contrary to its own guidelines …

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John’s Update (May 5)

John’s Update (May 5)

Dear Neighbours,

For two months now, Sarah Yi has been working 11 hours a day, seven days a week. Struggling to keep her business alive.

The pandemic is hard on everyone, but for some it’s worse than for others. Restaurant owners and other small retailers, for example, don’t just lose income; many risk losing the businesses they’ve poured years of work and all their savings into.

Sarah’s revenue is down 60 percent. “More work, less money,” she told me, sounding surprisingly upbeat, when I arrived for takeout at …

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John’s Update (May 1)

John’s Update (May 1)

Dear Neighbours,

Just a few months ago, in budget discussions with residents, most agreed that the City needed new sources of revenue to improve public transit, build affordable housing and create the liveable city we want to be part of.

Just a few months later, we’ll need that new revenue just to keep from going broke.

City government is not immune to the financial destruction caused by the virus. As Council was told yesterday at its first-ever online meeting, Toronto is losing an estimated $65 million per week. …

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UPDATED: New Provincial Rules Would Help Developers, Hurt Communities

UPDATED: New Provincial Rules Would Help Developers, Hurt Communities

 

Residents may be interested in the formal submission made by the City of Toronto to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on April 20 as part of the formal consultation process.  That submission can be read here.

John’s submission is also linked at the end of the original post below.

Original Post (April 17, 2020):

Most developers in Willowdale will be paying much less towards the cost of new parks, child care centres, community centres and other facilities if a new Ford Government proposal becomes final.

In …

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John’s Update (April 27)

John’s Update (April 27)

Dear Neighbours,

I am thankful that all of our political leaders are taking a non-partisan, fact-based approach to the COVID crisis, in harmony with Public Health experts.

Today, the Province outlined a cautious framework, stages through which we might take baby steps towards a new normal.

Stage 1: Allow select workplaces and small gatherings to reopen.
Stage 2: Allow additional workplaces and some larger gatherings to reopen.
Stage 3: Relax restrictions on small public events and workplaces but still not allow large events such as concerts or sporting events.

For more …

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John’s Update (April 23)

John’s Update (April 23)

Dear Neighbours,

April 23, 2018 began as a sunny spring day in Willowdale. Hundreds strolled Yonge Street’s sidewalks, visiting stores or out with friends for lunch. None of us will forget where we were when we learned that the beauty of that afternoon had been shattered by an act of violent hate that killed 10 people and injured 16 more.

I am proud to say that our community responded to that hate with an outpouring of kindness, compassion and love. The group We Love Willowdale formed overnight …

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John’s Update (April 20)

John’s Update (April 20)

Dear Neighbours,

This is a year of tragedies. The incomprehensible mass murder of innocent people in Nova Scotia that we are still coming to grips with, the loss of 260 lives from the senseless shooting down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, and the tragedy playing out in long-term care homes in our city and across the country.

In Willowdale this week, our thoughts return to the awful tragedy of April 23, 2018, when 10 people lost their lives and 16 more were injured in an act …

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