Two votes on stormwater in YSW

City Council also voted for two very interesting motions to reduce flooding, which has been a particular problem in parts of our riding.

One motion asks city staff to study a stormwater tax—which, if you think about it, is a rain tax. But it’s a super idea!

The trouble is that large, paved surfaces push much rainwater into the sewers. Right now, water users are charged for stormwater management, even though the water you use has nothing at all to do with how big your parking lot is. The motion introduced by Mike Layton will ask city staff to study taxing hard surface areas like parking lots. Councillor Frances Nunziata voted in favour. The motion narrowly carried.

A second motion, proposed by Nunziata, asks city staff to study naturalizing the Black Creek Channel.

The Black Creek was ‘channelized’ in the middle of the 20th century—meaning the river was replaced with a concrete channel instead of a natural environment.

Black Creek Channel, from the TRCA

The TRCA says that “while providing some riverine flood remediation benefits, [channels] do not fully protect the area from riverine flooding.”

Nunziata’s motion asks staff to consider “alternative design options for the Rockcliffe Riverine Flood Mitigation Project… and report on its findings.”

30 click speed limit proposed in much of YSW

Red and blue streets will not have their speed limits changed. Black streets will have the limit dropped to 30.

The Etobicoke York Community Council will consider whether to lower the speed limit on all “local roadways” in Ward 5, which covers Weston and Mount Dennis.

“Local roadways” are the great majority of streets—the last meters between major roads and driveways. In these maps, they are the black streets. Blue and red streets will not have their speed limits changed. (I may have copied the maps for all all of Mount Dennis and Weston. If your street is missing, let me know.

The speed limit changes come from the “Vision Zero” plan the city adopted in 2017.

Pelmo is sick with COVID

The Pelmo Park–Humberlea neighbourhood, part of which is in the area most people would call Weston, has the highest rate of new community-spread COVID cases in the city.

Pelmo Park–Humberlea includes the Pelmo neighbourhood south of the 401, as well as an area to the north of the 401 and  west of the 400.Map of Pelmo Park

Pelmo Park–Humberlea has had 17 new “sporadic” cases in the past 21 days, out of a population of about 10,000. That gives it an infection rate of 159 per 100,000 people, by far the highest in the city—the average rate is 28. (“Sporadic” cases occur outside a healthcare facility).

On the one hand, this may be a statistical blip: 17 cases isn’t a huge number. On the other hand, it is the highest rate in the city in the statistic I think we should care most about: new cases of community spread.

COVID continues to be a problem in the northwest part of the city. In Weston proper, we have had 13 new cases in the past 21 days, and we rank a dismal 9th-worst for new infection rates.

By contrast, more than 10% of the city’s neighbourhoods have had no new cases at all.

Including outbreaks in healthcare facilities makes the picture even darker. Humber Heights (just across the river), Weston, and Mount Dennis have been three of the four worst-hit neighbourhoods in Toronto.

Frances Nunziata says she prompted Joe Cressy, the Chair of Toronto Public Health, to write a letter to the Ontario Minister of Health and the Chief Medical Officer. The letter explains Cressy’s hypotheses around why COVID has been so prevalent here: race, income, reduced access to health services, and household crowding.

He calls on the province to provide:

  • Increased testing, including mobile testing
  • Accommodation for people needing to isolate
  • Increased data collection
  • Improved protections for workers
  • Faster test results

 

 

 

 

Nunziata opposes defunding the police

Frances Nunziata opposes defunding the policethe international movement to reduce police budgets and redirect the money to other social programs. Her position is nuanced, though: she does believe “there are concrete ways in which the City can improve on emergency responses and replace armed police officers with mobile, community-based crisis programs to de-escalate and triage non-criminal incidents”. She also says that she supports funding for social programs as alternatives to the criminal justice system.

Nunziata says she will oppose a City Council motion that would cut the police’s $1.22 billion budget by 10%.

In an email forwarded to me, she said:

Our society is coming to a touchstone moment for a necessary shift in the way we approach racial injustice, policing, and crisis response. I have been genuinely inspired by the spirited dedication and motivation I am seeing and hearing from residents – and especially youth – across our city. This is a time to express emotions, have what are often considered those uncomfortable conversations, and address what comes out of these conversations in engaged, thoughtful and effective ways.

I do not support the motion to defund the Toronto Police Service by ten percent. While I appreciate the emotion behind it, I do not agree with the recommendations.

There is undoubtedly a need to engage in the conversation and indeed take action on the issues and injustices that are being discussed, but I do not believe that this motion is the way forward.

I wholeheartedly support allocating funding for community-led alternatives to policing and the criminal justice system, anti-racism education, programs identified in the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, childcare, affordable housing, Tenants Defence Fund and food security.

There are still a number of days before City Council and I am listening to all sides of the conversation.

At the Toronto Police Services Board meeting on June 19th, a Motion by Board Member Uppala Chandrasekera was put forward with recommendations for the Board related to current events. The Board referred the report back to the Chair to allow time to engage in broad public consultation on it. I look forward to hearing these discussions.

I do believe that there are concrete ways in which the City can improve on emergency responses and replace armed police officers with mobile, community-based crisis programs to de-escalate and triage non-criminal incidents involving mental health, addictions and homeless individuals. I also believe that these solutions should be decided in consultation with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour community-led organizations and mental health, restorative justice and legal experts.

 

Weston is a hotspot for COVID

Weston, Mount Dennis, and Humber Heights are hotspots for the COVID virus, with some of the highest rates of infection in the city. Excluding healthcare transmissions, Weston is the second-most infected neighbourhood.

The city released data yesterday that showed the geographic distribution of COVID sufferers.

 

  • Humber Heights, just across the river, has the highest rate in the city, with 1525 cases per 100,000 residents. 
  • Weston has the second-highest rate in the city: 1022 per 100,000.
  • Mount Dennis is fifth, with 904 cases per 100,000.

This is, of course, terrible and tragic, but it may be explainable by a higher concentration of nursing homes, which have been responsible for many transmissions.

In part, this is the case: excluding institutional cases, Mount Dennis and Humber Heights fall to a more typical number of cases. Weston, however, does not.

If we don’t count the number of cases in nursing homes and elder care, Weston has 705 cases per 100,000 residents—15 times the number in the beaches, and 6 times the number in the Junction.

Only nearby Maple Leaf has more cases. Weston has the second-highest infection rate in the city, and therefore among the highest infection rates in Ontario, since COVID cases are concentrated in the GTA.

 

Apply for affordable units at 33 King

Frances Nunziata’s newsletter has lots of  information this week, including this: 33 King will be accepting applications for 23 affordable units starting February 3.

The breakdown of suites at 80 per cent of Average Market Rent is: seven one bedrooms; six two bedrooms; nine one bedrooms for seniors (59+ years of age); and one two bedroom for seniors (59+ years of age).
Applications will close Monday, Feb. 17th. Visit www.westonrentals.ca for details.