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.

22 John in the news for large rent increases: quite a bit to do about much less than appears

The new rental building at 22 John was in the news last week for asking tenants to pay as much as 21.6% more than last year—an increase they’ve since backed down on.

From Google Maps

A spokesperson told The Star that tenants can reduce the rent increase  by signing a year-long lease instead of moving to a month-to-month agreement when their agreements come up for renewal. The increase could still be as much as 10%, however.

Chiara Padovani, a local advocate, said today on Twitter:

Padovani, who was a rival for the councillor’s seat, has started a petition calling for rent control province wide.

It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Rockport did not receive city tax money to build for-profit rentals. They received waivers  and $7 million in provincial and federal money—but it was to build  below-market apartments and public spaces. 22 John is a mixed-use building, with a jumble of market and subsidized spaces.

Rockport only received help to build the below-market spaces. They built the for-profit spaces with their own money. Those rents are—rightly or wrongly—theirs alone to set.

Frances Nunziata, rightly, voted against applying rent control on buildings just like 22 John: buildings in which mixed incomes live together. It was perfectly reasonable to do that; after all, mixed-income buildings are good and should be encouraged.

 

 

Nunziata’s response to gun violence

Frances Nunziata spoke to Newstalk 1010 about the recent spike in violence in Weston and Mount Dennis. She blames street gangs and gang-affiliated bars:

Nunziata says street gangs are a problem in the neighbourhoods she’s responsible for and so are the bars they hang out in.

She’d like authorities to do more to clamp down on bars that attract and allow illegal activity and the people involved.

Nunziata has long loathed after-hours bars in Weston and has fought against them for more than a decade.