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E-BLAST: Getting Back Out in the Community

This certainly hasn’t been the spring most of us were hoping for. We had a serious dusting of snow on Monday and it seems that the virus is making another round in many of our circles, but I still have faith that brighter days lie ahead.

I found a daffodil while I was out dropping off Please Slow Down lawn signs in the neighbourhood yesterday and just had to take a picture with it.

My team and I have organized some great opportunities to connect with the community in the coming weeks. Of course, we all have to be careful to protect our health and we have made sure measures are in place for that, but many of us are itching to get back to connecting with our neighbours in person. I know I am, so let’s take a look at these exciting upcoming events.


This coming Wednesday, we are hosting a Senior Services Town Hall in the Seneca Village Community Centre gymnasium (1700 Finch Avenue East) from 1:00 – 3:00 PM. I know that the past two years have been quite isolating for many seniors. Questions, concerns, and worries tend to pile up while you’re stuck at home, and I want you to have a chance to talk about those with me, my team, and City staff. We’ve had some great virtual events over the pandemic, but I know that these are often not the preferred format, especially for some of our seniors. I’m so glad that we’ve been given the green light to hold our town hall in person. My team and I will all be masked up and will encourage you to do the same. Then, we’ll all get the chance to gather and talk about the many services available to seniors here in Don Valley North.

Another reason to come by my Seniors Services Town Hall is to grab a copy of our brand new DVN Seniors Guide!

I also want to hear from you on what more the City can do to support you. It’s up to us to work together to make our neighbourhoods work for seniors. Living needs to be pleasant and affordable, and neighbourhoods need to be safe and walkable. These are things we can’t lose sight of. I hope you’ll come to our town hall ready to discuss the issues that matter to you most and what changes you want to see in your neighbourhood.


You may have noticed that we are conducting a Participating Budgeting (PB) process in Pleasant View/Brian Village. I want to tell you what PB is all about because it may be coming to your neighbourhood soon.

Participatory Budgeting happens in hundreds of cities around the world. Simply put, it’s a way for people to choose how public money is spent. It’s a very straightforward process but it can take a bit of time. Here’s how it works: Residents of a specific area are given a budget for neighbourhood improvements, and they brainstorm ideas for new capital amenities that could benefit their community, like improvements to their local parks or a nearby street. Next, we pass the ideas off to City staff to professionally cost out each idea and vet it for viability. Projects that are deemed viable and are within the available budget are then placed on a ballot, and everyone living inside the PB area is invited to come out and vote for their favourite projects. The most popular project is chosen, and then additional projects from down the list are added based on popularity and whether they fit into the remaining budget.

A photo from our 2019 PB process in Parkway Forest.

While Toronto chose not to have a permanent PB program built into our budget, I always try to negotiate that a portion of any community development funds we receive are allocated using a PB process. I’ve seen year after year that both residents and staff learn a lot from this process. Residents learn why things cost as much as they do and why they take so long to construct. Staff get an in-depth look at community needs and priorities, and this helps them allocate other dollars from their general budget. While the process works best if you can do all of the steps in-person, we’ve found a way to move parts of it online to be able to keep bringing this opportunity to our communities here in Don Valley North.

We piloted this partially-virtual PB process in Henry Farm last year. We did the initial idea gathering session online, and my staff and I met virtually with City staff to understand their vetting and rationale for each idea. We worked with the local residents’ association to get the final list of ideas circulated throughout the neighbourhood, and then invited everyone in the community out to our in-person vote day. We held the vote day in Havenbrook Park and were blessed to have a lovely summer evening and a huge voter turnout.

A photo from our most recent PB vote day in Henry Farm last summer.

This spring, we’re doing the same thing in Pleasant View/Brian Village. We held the virtual brainstorming session a couple of months ago, and the ideas have now been vetted and costed by staff. There’s a great ballot of projects ready to be voted on. If you live in the neighbourhood (the area bounded by Van Horne, Victoria Park, the 401 and the 404), you may find a neighbour of yours dropping by to ask you to support their idea. I hope you’ll give them a minute of your time and thank them for being such an active member of our community.

As always, it only takes a few minutes to vote. Come join us in Clydesdale Park on Saturday, May 7 from 1:00 – 4:00 PM and vote for the projects you want to see implemented. We will be outside where we can mask, distance, and be safe. You can find more information on the vote day and the list of projects on the ballot at

I learned how to facilitate these PB processes from PBNYC, one of the world’s leading agencies to support the use of participatory democracy in cities. They have a great video that shows why this is such a powerful process for communities. I know I’ve shown this video before, but it still demonstrates the PB process better than any other I’ve seen.

In the coming months, many of us will need to relearn how to be actively engaged in our communities. For some, the pandemic has already brought us closer to our neighbours, but for others it’s hard to get back out and try to get back to “normal” after a couple years of isolation. Know that my team and I will be with you every step of the way and do everything we can to help bring our communities together as we head toward recovery.


Fourth Dose Eligibility

Appointments for fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are now available to:

  • Residents age 60 and older

  • First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members age 18 and over

Book your fourth dose appointment through the Province's online COVID-19 vaccination portal ( or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900. Eligible residents can book their fourth dose if at least five months have passed since receiving their third dose.

For more information, visit the link below:

Upcoming Vaccine Clinics in Don Valley North

Parkway Forest Community Centre (55 Forest Manor Rd.)

North York General Hospital is running a vaccine clinic at Parkway Forest Community Centre every Wednesday in April from 4:30 - 7:30 PM. First, second, and third doses of Pfizer and Moderna are available, and all ages (5+) are welcome. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome while supplies last. For more information, visit the link below:

Oriole Community Centre (2975 Don Mills Rd. W.)

North York General Hospital is running a vaccine clinic at Oriole Community Centre every Wednesday (12:00 - 3:00 PM) and Thursday (4:00 - 7:30 PM) in April. First, second, and third doses of Pfizer and Moderna are available, and all ages (5+) are welcome. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome while supplies last. For more information, visit the link below:


Meet Shyamal Ray, our Don Valley Northerner of the Week! Shyamal has long been a committed community volunteer in Parkway Forest. Whether he’s spending his time helping out Friends of Parkway Forest Park or promoting vaccines in his community through North York General Hospital’s Vaccine Engagement Team, everyone can always count on Shyamal to be there for his neighbours.

Nominate a Neighbour! Do you know someone in your neighbourhood who makes a difference? Someone who is committed to bettering their community and always there to help out their neighbours? Nominate them for Don Valley Northerner of the Week! To submit a nomination for Don Valley Northerner of the week, please send the following information about the person you are nominating to

  • Name

  • A short blurb (~100 words) about why you are nominating them (how they support/contribute to the community, etc.)

I know so many of you help out your friends and neighbours in a number of ways, so please nominate anyone in your community who you feel makes a difference. My team will contact you if we select your nominee as Don Valley Northerner of the Week!



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