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So long and farewell to 2020

It's safe to say 2020 did not go as planned. This pandemic has gone on far longer than we could have thought, but with news of vaccines coming early next year, we're beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. While the end is in sight, we can't let our guard down – it's more important than ever to strictly adhere to public health rules so we can make it out of this second wave safely.

My family is already experiencing a real coronavirus wake up call. One of my grandchildren became symptomatic and treated positive for COVID-19 earlier this week. The Medical Officer of Health was right when she said the fastest rising age group is 14 to 17 years of age. So, there will be no playing with the rules for Christmas. We’re all doing our 14 days of isolation in our separate homes. It can happen to anyone, so please review the COVID-19 safety rules and have a quiet ‘Household Only’ holiday.

There was so much more we hoped to accomplish this past year, but COVID-19 made sure it was the sole focus. That said, even with this massive obstacle, we still got a lot done. Here's a review of what my team and I were up to in Don Valley North in 2020:


Limits on public gatherings forced us to think creatively about engagement. By now you know how much I value your feedback, so we had to come up with solutions. In the end, despite not being able to gather in-person, I think 2020 was one of our most successful years for engagement! Here are some highlights:

  • Two telephone town halls with MP Han Dong. Over 3000 residents participated, which is something of a record breaker for one Riding/Ward.

  • Weekly virtual issue meetings with special guest throughout September and October on healthy seniors living, development, tenant rights, transportation, and public health.

  • Park pop-ups in the summer to bring the physically distance constituency office to you.

  • Neighbourhood meetings in Brian Village and at Blue Ridge Road on urgent local matters.

  • Hundreds of wellness check phone calls to residents from myself and my team

  • Newsletter, mail drops, a new DVN tenant guide

  • Weekly conference calls with MP Han Dong and all other DVN representatives to coordinate lockdown efforts between governments.

  • Formation of the first DVN Youth Council, now meeting with me virtually each month.

Council & Community

Mayor's Recovery Task Force

John Tory asked me to convene virtual round tables of children and youth service providers as part of the Mayor's recovery roundtable to gauge their needs to get children and youth clients through the pandemic and foster their economic recovery.


Even before the pandemic began, I did all I could to champion the order of much needed TTC vehicles to keep our fleet in a decent state of good repair. Initial orders have now been placed for new buses, streetcars and subway cars. Mayor Tory and the City Manager are now working with the other orders of government to expand these orders which will create good recovery employment right here in Ontario.

We all understood why it was necessary to temporarily lay off some TTC workers when the city came to a halt during the first lockdown. However, when some work returned and I found myself on a crowded Finch East bus, I fought for the return of laid off TTC operators. Today, they are all back at work but their services are targeted at the busiest routes to help reduce dangerous crowding.


The reason I asked to be appointed to the Board of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority is that the new boundaries of Don Valley north mean that one ward is just full of crucial TRCA controlled ravine and river trails. I know many residents want me to advocate for these.

Little did I know I would be fighting to preserve our most significant and sensitive wetlands all across Ontario’s Green Belt. Worse still, my fellow board members and I have found ourselves fighting for the TRCA just to maintain its authority over the lands they are charged with, due to new Conservation Act amendments from the Provincial Government. The Bill also allows developers to apply to the Premier for an overriding Ministerial Zoning Order if the Conservation Authority refuses to grant permission to encroach onto environmentally sensitive lands.


I have spent a fair amount of time getting to know the residents of the Sparroways townhouse community. After a spate of tragically violent incidents, active community members told me the trouble started when they began to lose important youth services years ago. I have been able to secure $90,000 in funding for a new community complex and youth space in the Sparroways neighbourhood. TCHC will also contribute and complete this work this year. Bravo to the residents who have worked hard to heal their community.

Policing reform and accountability

This past year will be remembered, not just for the global pandemic but also for what seemed like the entire globe waking up to the need to policing reform.

Tragically, Toronto was triggered by the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet in the very same week that the world learned of the brutal death at the hands of police of George Floyd. Two very different types of incidents caused communities to mobilize for change.

I got very involved in the development of recommendations for the City and for the Toronto Police Services Board to bring about police reform and mental crisis response reform. This is work that I took part in during my time on the Police Board last term.

When Council and the Police return in January to confronting anti-black racism in our institutions and to designing a non-police approach to mental health crisis response I’ll be reaching out to you for help. Our fledgling Don Valley North Youth Council has already indicated that they will want lots of opportunity to be key voices on this issue. I’ll be glad to have their real-time input.

Thank You

I don't want this to be a self-congratulatory piece. The reality is that I couldn't do any of this without your help. The Don Valley North community stepped up like never before and I'm incredibly proud.

All of our residents' associations deserve a huge shout out for the incredible work they've done this year to engage and assist their neighbours. The Bayview Village Association, for instance, offered to do grocery shopping for those who are unable to. Many groups held together by holding regular virtual information sessions.

So many DVN residents and organizations generously donated to our food banks, North York General Hospital and other essential services.

We also worked with the community to resolve contentious development applications in Bayview Village and Consumers Business Park. Thank you to the community leaders and residents who kept right on working virtually to advocate for their neighbourhoods. There is more coming in 2021 but we are all getting better and better and “Zooming” through it.

So, while this has been a tough year for all of us, I am left with an overwhelming feeling of optimism and hope.

All my best to you and your families this holiday season and for a happy and healthy New Year!


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