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E-BLAST: Summer is Finally Here! Let's Stay Safe and Have Fun

This week, we’ve been thrown into summer full force. With 30+ degree heat, school ending, and more and more places opening up as of yesterday, many of us are itching to get out into the city. I know everyone’s excited, and I am too. There are just a few things we need to keep in mind, like following public health guidelines and being courteous to our neighbours, to make sure we can have fun and stay safe. We all deserve some fun after the year we’ve been through, so let’s go over what Don Valley North has to offer this summer.

We’re lucky to have so many places to enjoy the outdoors in our neighbourhoods. Over the past couple of years, we’ve installed new playground equipment around the ward for kids, and new adult workout stations for parents and grandparents to enjoy. Be sure to give others space when sharing these amenities. The City is also offerings free drop-in programs for children and families at our parks through the ParksPlayTO program. This includes everything from gardening to active games to arts and crafts.

I love getting the chance to chat with residents at our regular park pop-ups.

My team and I will also be stopping by your local park for a park pop-up sometime this summer. I know many of us are fed up with virtual meetings. Now that it’s safe to do so, we’ll be putting up my pink tent in the park for a few hours a couple times per week. These pop-ups are a chance to come say hi and chat about what’s been going on in your neighbourhood. We’ll be dropping off flyers just before each pop-up, so keep an eye out for the card announcing we’re coming to your neighbourhood.

Trails are a great option, especially when it’s hot. Nestled into ravines with lots of tree cover, they’re often a couple of degrees cooler than our streets and backyards. With everyone wanting to get onto the trails these days, please remember that you’re sharing the trail with other users. If you’re training for the Tour de France, our city trails aren’t the right place. Cyclists need to be mindful of their speed, and always give enough space to pedestrians. Our trails are best for family cycling and sharing with dogs and their walkers, joggers and roller skaters.

While enjoying our parks and trails this summer, keep in mind that the City has had to hire fewer seasonal staff due to pandemic costs. This means grass cutting and weeding won’t take place as often as we’re used to. All of us can help keep our parks and trails in the best condition possible by putting out litter and recyclables in the bins and picking up after our pets.

Our community members also have some great initiatives in our local parks, like the Dallington Pollinators Community Garden in Dallington Park.

With the extreme heat we’ve been having this week, another group of our park amenities has been totally packed: our pools and splash pads. There are COVID-19 capacity limits and measures in place to keep these spaces safe for everyone. The City is also operating Emergency Cooling Centres to ensure that heat relief is accessible to those who need it this year. If you live in a building or apartment without air conditioning, it’s always good to know where the nearest cooling centre is. For us in Don Valley North, the closest location is at the North York Civic Centre on Yonge Street. These cooling centres will follow strict COVID-19 protocols and will have staff trained to assist anyone being affected by extreme heat. The City has a helpful website with tips and resources for how to stay cool, and tenants should soon be receiving my office’s helpful Summer Tenant Guide with information on keeping your unit cool.

This summer is also a great time to support our local businesses that have been struggling during the pandemic. If dining out is in your budget, try to go to restaurants that didn’t have a drive-thru during lockdown. Some of the best burgers in town are in small kitchens. I’ve also loved checking out some of our local stores and cafes. My favourite new spot is Forest Café, across from the Parkway Forest Community Centre. They have a great black sesame latte and something wickedly delicious called a Croffle (a croissant/waffle), both of which are best enjoyed on their patio tables.

My daughter Martha and I love to stop by Forest Cafe in Parkway Forest for an indulgent Croffle and a latte.

Many businesses have had to hit the ground running with short notice for re-openings. Remember that rules and restrictions might vary from place to place. Every surviving business is getting back into the swing of things, and they all appreciate your business and patience as we open back up.

I know this summer is starting to sound like a long list of dos and don’ts, but it’s really about remembering that we’re all still in this together. As restrictions start to gradually lift, we have to get back out into the city while staying informed and keeping safe. We have to follow public health guidelines and encourage friends and family to get vaccinated to keep up the great progress we’ve had lately.

Last night, I saw a great video-explainer about getting that second shot on CBC’s The National. I want to include it here for anyone in your life still making their vaccine decisions. Getting both doses helps us all enjoy a safe summer and gradually get back to normal.

It has been really wonderful for my team and me to take your calls about vaccinations, hear your stories, and help you get both of your shots. It’s an honour to be of assistance in these times when one can feel so helpless. Remember, our phone lines and emails will continue to be answered daily. We’re here to help with any issues that might arise over the summer months.

These summer reminders are arriving in your inbox right on Canada Day. I thought this was perfect timing, as July 1 marks the real first day of summer in many of our minds, especially for kids who are excited for summer vacation. While there’s much to look forward to in the coming months, I want to close off this E-Blast by reflecting a bit on Canada Day this year.

This past Friday, I was invited to join the National Congress of Chinese Canadians (NCCC) for a small Canada Day cake-cutting ceremony, which was then broadcast virtually to their members. At the event, I was asked to do a land acknowledgement. I did it, and it brought me to tears.

I joined the National Congress of Chinese Canadians for their Canada Day cake-cutting ceremony last Friday.

Canada Day means something different to everyone. No matter how long you’ve been here or how you usually celebrate, this year it's important to reflect on the thousands of Indigenous children who died in residential schools. It's an ugly part of Canadian history that we must confront, and it requires all of us to work towards real and meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We can start by refreshing ourselves on the Calls to Action outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on how we can all work towards creating a better Canada.


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