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E-BLAST: 2021 in Review: Stronger Together

December 21, 2021


I can hardly believe 2021 is almost over. I think it’s safe to say that when this year started, most of us hoped we would be out of this pandemic by the end of it. There’s no doubt it’s been another tough year for us all. Even with the challenges of the pandemic, our community here in Don Valley North found so many ways to come together. Here are some highlights of what my team and I were up to in 2021.

 

CONNECTING WITH YOU

I’m always bragging to my fellow Councillors that I have some of the most engaged residents in the city, and this year you certainly did not disappoint. For me, the highlight of our year was the summer, as I got to re-connect with many of you in person. My team and I hosted 27 Park Pop-Ups, and it was a delight to have an outdoor chat with so many of you. I have to say we truly got to every corner of the ward!

This maps shows the location of every Park Pop-Up we did this year.

These Park Pop-Ups gave me a sense of what was going on in each neighbourhood and helped me dive deeper into some local issues. For instance, we hosted Community Safety Audits for the Crossroads and a townhouse complex on Godstone Road based on concerns they shared. I also worked closely with social service agencies around emergency shelters to make sure we have the proper support systems in place to keep our communities safe.


We also knocked on hundreds of doors canvassing to hear your thoughts on local issues, and I got to see some beautiful gardens and holiday decorations through our DVN Garden Contest and DVN Holiday Contest.


Of course, with COVID-19, we also did a lot of connecting online. I joined many of you at over 35 virtual community meetings, including City-led public consultations, meetings with many of our residents associations, and some of my office’s own virtual events like our Budget Town Hall and Rooming House Community Meeting. I also tried out something new this year and hosted seven Coffee with Your Councillor sessions on Facebook Live to answer your pressing questions in real time.

While I always prefer to connect with you in person, virtual meetings will certainly continue to be a part of our lives in 2022. I know that together we can make the most of these online opportunities.


A priority of mine this year has also been supporting our community through the pandemic, especially through the initial vaccine rollout. We hosted a Vaccine Telephone Town Hall with Dr. de Villa and top doctors from North York General Hospital (NYGH) in April when many of you had urgent questions about your vaccinations. My team helped thousands of DVN residents get vaccinated through outreach and partnership with NYGH, and even by booking appointments for residents having trouble with the Provincial system. I also vocally advocated for vaccine mandates, for City clinics to be open 24/7 to meet demand, and protections for our frontline healthcare workers.


Aside from our dozens of scheduled events, my team helped a whopping 3800 residents with local issues this past year. We reached thousands more residents of DVN with our Summer and Winter Tenant Guides and our newsletters.

Getting to chat with so many of you outdoors was the highlight of my summer!

None of these engagement opportunities would have been a success without you. If you reached out to share your ideas with me, whether in-person, over Zoom, or through a simple call or email, thank you. Whenever you took the time to connect with me and my team this year, you became a part of making our community better.

 

IMPROVING OUR NEIGHBOURHOODS

The pandemic definitely slowed the pace on many City projects in 2020, but we saw a lot of progress across our ward. We got brand new playground equipment at Old Sheppard Park, Parkway Forest Park, and Cummer Park, and we got the ball rolling with community consultations for playground enhancements at Ruddington, Bellbury and Pinto parks. Many of you also took the time to come out and share your suggestions on how to improve our neighbourhoods. Hundreds of residents joined our Parkway Forest Park Master Plan pop-ups and our Participatory Budgeting process in Henry Farm to vote on the improvements they want to see in their communities in the New Year.

Thank you to the over 100 Henry Farmers who came out to vote in our Participatory Budgeting process.

My team and I also worked closely with the Parks department and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to speed up the work being done in Newtonbrook Creek, and we are finally able to again enjoy our beautiful Duncan Creek now that the restoration work is complete.

I also know that upgrading our infrastructure and making our roads safer have been top priorities this year. I worked very closely with City Planning staff to protect our infrastructure along Sheppard Avenue by putting a hold on certain new developments while vital sewer upgrades are made.

We’re also seeing a major road reconstruction along Cummer Avenue to make the street safer for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers alike. At North York Community Council, I’ve pushed reports forward to investigate safety improvements and traffic calming on Blue Ridge Road, Pineway Boulevard, and Ernest Avenue.

We all know that these types of improvements can take time, but I appreciate how engaged local residents have been every step of the way to make our neighbourhoods the best they can be.

 

MAKING COUNCIL WORK FOR YOU

To wrap this up, I want to share some of the challenges we took on at Council this year and the changes we pushed through to make our city better.

I joined my colleagues Councillor Wong-Tam (centre) and Councillor Lai (right) at the Stop Asian Hate rally at Nathan Phillips Square in late March.


I moved motions that help us out right here in Don Valley North, from pushing back on stunt driving and excessive vehicle noise and prioritizing the Peanut as a Neighbourhood Improvement Area to advocating for $10 a day childcare. As always, I continue to advocate for more options for seniors to age in place while still improving the conditions and capacity of our Long Term Care system. Council also passed motions to pilot alternative responses to policing and confront Islamophobia, anti-Asian racism, and anti-Semitism in our communities, and I worked closely with the Beth Tikvah Synagogue to resolve a zoning issue that will allow this vital community to expand their educational offerings on site.


On the transportation front, I led the way in talking about the future of the TTC so that we can ensure this vital system bounces back from the impacts of the pandemic and ride-sharing programs like Uber. I’ve also advocated strongly to create a transit hub in Don Valley North when Oriole GO is relocated to Leslie station so that it better integrates into the community, and have pushed the bike plan forward at Old Cummer GO to create better cycling integration for our many path and trail users.


With the beautiful system of parks and ravines here in Don Valley North, I know protecting our environment and fighting climate change are top of mind. Many of you signed my petition to phase out gas-powered leaf blowers and got in touch with my office to let me know we need to do more to combat LDD moths on our trees. As a TRCA Director, I also successfully fought to preserve our wetlands, led the charge to endorse the fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, and worked with other Councillors towards eliminating single-use plastics.


Finally, one of the things I’m most proud of this year is the work my team and I did to engage with young people on these critical issues. We held monthly Youth Council meetings and welcomed a new set of youth council members, and launched our Youth Network to reach even more young people in Don Valley North.

It was great to engage with Don Valley North's young people through our monthly Youth Council meetings.

 

FAREWELL TO 2021


One last stat for you. This is the 49th E-Blast I sent out this year. Thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to read this newsletter every week. I want to wish you and your loved ones a safe and restful holiday season and a Happy New Year!

 

COVID-19 Restrictions In response to the rapidly-spreading Omicron variant, the Province of Ontario has announced additional COVID-19 restrictions that are now in effect, including:

  • Indoor public settings limited to 50% capacity

  • Indoor social gatherings limited to 10 people

  • Outdoor social gatherings limited to 25 people

I know many of us were looking forward to seeing our friends and family over the holidays. We can still do so, but we need to adhere to public health advice to keep ourselves and and our loved ones safe.


Enhanced Proof of Vaccination Measures

Starting on Tuesday, January 4, 2022, the use of the enhanced COVID-19 vaccine certificate with QR code will be required where proof of vaccination is required. Your enhanced vaccine certificate can be downloaded by visiting https://covid-19.ontario.ca/get-proof/.


For those without a smartphone, rest assured that you can still present a paper copy of the enhanced vaccine certificate. You can print a copy from the above website, or call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 to have your vaccine certificate mailed to you.


For more information on the new COVID-19 restrictions and enhanced proof of vaccination measures, visit the Province's website below:

Booking Vaccine Appointments COVID-19 vaccine appointments for first and second doses are available for those ages five and older. Third dose appointments are now available for those ages 18 and older. Appointments cam be booked through the provincial booking system online or by phone:

  • Online: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/

  • Phone: 1-833-943-3900

 


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