| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Civic Impact

440 Articles | Page: | Show All

Toronto Seed Library open new branches at OCAD and OISE

When they return for a new semester in the coming weeks, students at both OCAD and OISE will find that a brand new library has sprouted in their absence. Housed inside existing facilities, neither library takes up more than four feet. Though small in size. the collection at each library is actually quite substantial. Libraries just don’t need that much space when instead of lending out books, they're lending out tiny seeds. 

The new libraries, or, more accurately, new library branches, are a project of a rapidly growing grassroots nonprofit called the Toronto Seed Library. Established in 2013, the Toronto Seed Library has set up branches across the city. Each branch allows users to “borrow” organic, native, heirloom and open pollinated seeds. Users can take whichever seeds they need and think they’ll use. Each plant they grow will have the capacity to produce more seeds, users are then encouraged to bring those seeds back to the library ensuring the seed collections growth.

The new OCAD and OSIE branches are part of an ongoing effort by the Seed Library to set up branches in public institutions across the city. The effort is going well: 15 have opened in just over a year. 
"We feel the idea has really caught on — in parallel with our own rapid growth, there are now over 20 Seed Libraries across Ontario compared to one in early 2012," says Brendan Behrmann, chief Librarian and co-ordinator with the Toronto Seed Library. "We've given free seeds to thousands of people in Toronto and have had an excellent response from the gardening, social justice, librarian and educator communities.”

The Seed Library’s success in building partnerships and in bringing institutions like UofT and OCAD onboard can also likely be attributed to the fact that the Seed Library asks for so few resources from its hosts. 

"[Partners] only need to provide us with space, although ideally they will supply the physical branch as well (anything from a woven basket to a filing cabinet can be used)," says Behrmann. "We provide the branches with seeds, handouts, information about how the seed library is used, and a sign if they request it. At least once a year, we try to do some kind of event with each branch...We do a basic run through of how the seed library works with staff at the host organizations, and there is a contact person at each branch who knows all the nitty-gritty details."

It’s a lot of work. And not surprisingly, it’s hard to sustain for an all-volunteer organization. 

That’s why, says Behrmann, the Seed Library is looking at possibly integrating with the Toronto Public Library and/or reaching out to the City of Toronto and Province of Ontario. 

"This year we are holding a series of events with the Toronto Public Library to see if there's enough interest from both the public at large and from within the library system for the Public Libraries to host Seed Libraries. """The events have been successful beyond our imaginations. Initially only three events were planned, but we're now up to seven. All five held so far (two more are planned for September) have had overflowing attendance; and great enthusiasm for the project has been created among TPL staff and the public. 
"We're looking forward to a 'radish' 2015."
Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Brendan Behrmann, Chief Librarian and Co-ordinator, Toronto Seed Library 

YMCA farm camp teaches campers to grow their own food

A group of children aged 9-12 from across the GTA recently completed a crash course on how to farm, harvest, and cook organic Ontario produce. 

The junior farmers were participants of the YMCA of Greater Toronto's first-ever farm camp - a week long farming intensive at the YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre. Cedar Glen, a 263 acre YMCA property located in the Oak Ridges Moraine, is the site of dozens of YMCA day and sleepway camps. 

Last year, with the help of farm-based organization Everdale, Ceder Glen set up its very own farm. And this first summer they invited campers to spend a week figuring out how it all works. 

"When we started the farm last year we were focusing on just getting it established so we didn't offer any programming on it for the first year," says Brandon McClounie, general manager at Cedar Glen. "But this year we were able to frame a farm camp around it."

The goal of the camp says McClounie, in addition to being a fun week for campers, is to give young people a sense of where their food comes from and how to begin to grow it.

"We teach our campers skills and knowledge they can bring home, not only for themselves but for the benefit of the whole family."

Farm Camp campers not only learn how to grow their own vegetables, they also learn to use the "vegetables of their labour" to create easy shareable meals. 

"Once they're done their harvest, our kitchen will show them how to make soup," says McClounie. "It's sort of a cyclical program, they go from learning about farms and farming awareness to harvesting, to actually cooking with that food and actually giving back to the community."

On the second last day of camp, the campers donated their soup to Yellow Brick House, a local shelter located close to Ceder Glen site (the campers also made enough to bring some home to their families). 

"The donation is really important and great moment. Representatives from the Yellow Brick House come to talk about what they're all about, to accept the donation and to talk about its significance. It lets campers know what they've learned and contributed is really valuable."
Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Brandon McClounie, General Manager at Cedar Glen, YMCA

Reel Youth program invites youth to create documentaries about seniors' life stories

Canada Media nonprofit Reel Youth is now accepting applications for its newest Toronto initiative the Revera Age is More Film Program.

The Age is More Film Program challenges young documentarions to create a four- to seven-minute film about the life of senior woman living in Toronto.

The program, to be held over three consecutive weekends this September, is now accepting applications from interested young women ages 13-29 years old. Women of any skill level are eligible to apply and the program is free for all participants. 

The 10 selected participants will learn the basics of film-making and interviewing before being paired with a resident of Toronto's Forest Hill Place, a seniors home participating in the program. The filmmakers will be tasked with learning about the life of the seniors they've paired with, and will eventually explore the life of that senior through a short documentary film. 

The film program, offered by Reel Youth in partnership with senior accommodation firm Revera Living, was launched in Burlington in 2013. This September is the first time the program has been offered in Toronto and the first time it's been offered for women exclusively. 

"The program has always focused on building inter-generational relationships between the youth participants and seniors," says Leah Seltzer, a program facilitator at Reel Youth. "The intention this time is just to highlight women specifically and really focus on building inter-generational relationships between women."

Seltzer, who has helped facilitate the Age is More program in other cities, has seen first hand the large impact this short film intensive can have. 

"The youth participants often come with reservations. They think it's going to boring listening to seniors tell stories but it's really incredible because they soon discover that's not the case," says Seltzer. "We've really seen how young people's perception of older people changes and how their desire to connect with people of an older generation really grows."

This shift in attitude is especially poignant,  Selzer explains, given Canada's pervasive ageism. A recent Revera study claims that ageismis the most accepted form of discrimination in the country.  

But, says Selzer, it's not just the young people who gain from the program.

"It also changes perceptions from the other side too. It changes the ideas of some senior participants. Some of the participants don't often interact with young people...many were surprised at some of the capacity and maturity of the youth involved and are really glad to be able to share their stories."

Complete films will be featured on Reel Youth's YouTube page, on AgeIsMore.com and screened publicly in Toronto as part of the Reel Youth Film Festival

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Leah Seltzer, Program Facilitator & Editor, Reel Youth

An innovative way to salvage the city's infested ash trees

Since it was first discovered in 2002 that the emerald ash borer (EAB) had made its way to Ontario, policy-makers and researchers have been racing to control the spread of this seemingly uncontrollable pest.  

The emerald ash borer, an invasive insect species that can attack and kill any type of native ash tree, is incredibly difficult to detect early and can spread through the movement of logs, trees, branches, and firewood.

In many ways, the fight against the emerald ash borer has already been lost. The City Of Toronto estimates that the majority of the city's 860,000 ash trees will be infected by EAB by 2015.  

But while it's too late to stop the decimation of the ash trees, it's not too late, according to environmental business network Partners in Project Green (PPG), to figure out a new way of disposing of them.  

In a recent pilot project demonstration in Etobicoke, Partners in Project Green showed the business community how to turn the infected ash trees into usable lumber.

"The big issue with these infected trees, besides the fact that we’re losing them, is that they’re ending up in landfills," says Malaz Sebai, waste management project manager with Partners in Project Green. "Disposing of trees and transporting them to landfill is costly, and it’s also not extracting any value from the trees.

"The trees are most valuable as trees, but if they’re infected, the best possible way to maximize this resource is to turn those trees into usable lumber."

But while using infected trees for lumber rather than turning them to mulch makes much more intuitive sense, the problem, as Sebai explains, is one of cost and logistics.

"When we started talking about this issue with our members and with municipalities we realized that the big barriers to re-purposing were storage and transportation. It’s just very very expensive."

One solution, says Sebai, is simply to stop transporting the trees.

The Partners in Project Green pilot program did just that. Instead of transporting the tree to a mill site, they brought the miller to the trees.

The ash lumber pilot project brought together a company with trees to remove, property manager Bentall Kennedy, and a company known for on-site milling, landscaping firm Sawmill  Sawmill Sid Lands & Housing. The goal, to showcase how infected trees can be converted to usable lumber with onsite processing and milling.

The pilot project, says Sebai, has already generated a lot of excitement among organization, both the private and the public sector, who will be needing to remove thousands of trees from their properties.

In the coming month Partners in Project Green will be publishing a report on the project documenting the financial and environmental savings of bringing companies together for on-site ash tree processing.

Writer: Kat Sunkal
Source: Malaz Sebai, Project Manager Waste Management, Partners in Project Green

Torontonians back new website that aims to change the way we vote

The team at Women in Toronto Politics (WiTOpolirecently launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for their newest project: a "one-stop-shop" website outlining the position of every city coucnil candidate running in the upcoming municipal elections.   
The goal was to raise $8,000 over the course of 40 days. WiTOpoli reached it in 10. And the campaign, which runs until August 22, continues to attract donations.   
"The momentum has really exceeded our expectations,"  says Abby Plenermedia relations director with WiTOpoli. "We reached out to our networks and people have really gotten behind it. Not only are people supporting it, but we're also hearing that this is a tool that a lot of people would really use."  
The yet-to-be-launched websitecalled Position Primer, will ultimately be a directory of each candidate's stance on important municipal issues; issues such as unemployment, transit, taxation and housing. In order to be of the most benefit to voters, Position Primer will group candidates by ward and will plot the candidates position in chart to allow for side-by-side comparison. The volunteer team at WiTOpoli have already began collecting information, sending out a survey to each candidate requesting positions on 10 key issues in 500 characters or less.   
"We came to the conclusion that we needed this website a few months ago when we began organizing for the upcoming elections" says Plener"There's a lot of media attention always on the mayoral election in Toronto--which is great--but the thing is we also have a very strong council system and our councilors make a big different on issues we care about. But for voters it can be hard to know how a candidate feels about those issues, and there are over 200 candidates running. We wanted to create a platform where voters could examine all equally and in one place."  
The current plan, says Plener, is to have the site up and running for September.   
The funds raised through the Position Primer indiegogo crowdsource campaign will be used to pay a designer for Position Planner and to fund WiTOpoli's ongoing outreach efforts to get candidates onboard.   
It might seem like lot of work for only one election, but it's worth it, says Plener, to get more people engaged and ultimately out to the voting booth. And, stresses Plener, the site will have continued relevance even after the election as a way of holding elected officials accountable for their avowed stances on key Toronto issues.  
"The site represents an opportunity for candidates to engage with voters in a different way and gives voters, who might otherwise not know where to access all this information, a new entry point into the election. It will give our city a boost in terms of civic engagement."  

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Abby Plener, Media Relations Director, Women in Toronto Politics.

How a Toronto non-profit language service became one of the largest in the world

Toronto-based MCIS Language Services was recently ranked the no.1 non-profit language service provider in North America by independent research company Common Sense Advisory.

"For us to be on the top of that list is a big achievement," says Richard Brooks, director of strategy & business management at MCIS. "Most non-profits don't get to compete against the large for-profit companies, but ours has and has done a really good job."

Not only has MCIS grown from a four person volunteer-run organization to one of the largest language service providers in the world, it did it all with no owners, and no shareholders, all while staying faithful to its community mission.  

Launched in 1998 by a group of volunteer public sector employees, MCIS was born from a desire to decrease the language barriers that often barred newcomers from getting quality public service assistance.

"The goal then, which we have stayed true to, was to provide high quality, fast, and low-cost translation services to all of our clients, says Brooks. "MCIS started with 3 or 4 interpreters and now we have over 5000 interpreters in over 200 languages."

Brooks credits MCIS's growth to, among other factors, the diversity of Toronto population, MCIS's client-based philosophy and the organization's dedication to working with newcomer communities to consistently grow its interpreter  base.  

"Even though we have private and public sector clients, community-engagement is always central to what we do. For one, we are always bringing newcomers on board. If you're a newcomer and speak at least two languages we'll bring you on board and train you and help you find work as an interpreter or translator. It's often a first job for people who come to Canada, and in the training process our interpreters also learn other things that are useful like Canadian laws, and about the education and health systems."

The result of MCIS's thorough and extensive training program is they have an ever-expanding database of thousands of interpreters who, collectively, can speak over 200 languages.  

"We can  get someone an interpreter in 30 seconds over the phone, 10 minutes over video and, in most metropolitan areas, 45 minutes in person," says Brooks. "We don't only train newcomers to be interpreters, we also often provide much needed services. We're always working in public health and other public institutions to break down language barriers and make people's arrival that much more comfortable. There's very little you can do if you can't communicate effectively.

"We're so successful because our interpreters are often working with newcomer communities and are often from those very communities. And really, there's no better city in the world to build a global hub for language services than in Toronto. The whole world is here."

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Richard Brooks, Director, MCIS Language Services


New website makes it easier for Torontonians to take control of their healthcare

A recently unveiled project of the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), is hoping to offer Torontonians relief from some their healthcare searching woes.

Recognizing that searching online for answers to healthcare queries is often more overwhelming than illuminating, the Toronto Central CCAC set out to create an online one-stop-shop for healthcare information in Toronto.

The result, TorontoCentralHealthline.ca, is fully searchable site that provides users with a array of information: from how to access low cost dental clinics to how to make decisions about organ donation, to where to find long term care facilities anywhere in Toronto.

"[The site] is an incredible tool for people looking for local community based healthcare-related services and information," says Dipti Purbhoo, senior director of client services at the Toronto Central CCAC. "Toronto residents are now able to access a dedicated portal that provides comprehensive and relevant data with a single click."

Vistors to the site can choose, among other options, to narrow their search based on demographics (e.g. women, youth, seniors), based on health care options (e.g. hospitals, home and community care) and based on health topics (addiction, end-of-life care).

The hope, says Purbhoo, is that the site becomes the primary health resource in Toronto, so much so that healthcare professionals turn to it as a resource to help their patiends and feel compelled to contribute information to the site’s database regarding their services.

John Street Pedestrian Initiative launches with week-long art show

There are 20 red Muskoka chairs on John Street.

The chairs, which were earlier this month individually repurposed by artists and recent OCAD U graduates Rosena Fung and Michael Pitropov, sit right in the middle of, what was until very recently, a functioning traffic lane. 

The chairs, located on the east side of John Street, between Queen and Adelaide, will remain on display until mid-October. The east curb traffic lane will remain closed to motor vehicles for the next five months. 

The lane closure is part of the John Street Pedestrian Initiative (JSPI) - a six month pilot project organized by the Toronto Entertainment District BIA (TOED BIA) in partnership with the City of Toronto, to transform a John Street traffic lane into a pedestrian mall.

The 20 Muskoka chairs, officially referred to as Toronto’s Red Carpet, is the result of partnership between OCAD university and the TOED BIA celebrating the transformation of the lane into a pedestrian-only area.

In addition to the red chairs, which visitors are encouraged to lounge in, the new pedestrian area also hosts tables, chairs and umbrellas. 

A few tables and chairs might not seem huge, but the transformation of John Street has been 15 years in the making. First identified by the City of Toronto as one of four ‘cultural corridors’ in a 2001 report, John Street, and its potential for redevelopment (an issue the BIA has advocated vigourlsy for in recent year) has been the subject of a slew of follow-up reports. 

A permanent re-design of the corridor has been approved and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. The new design will include, among other things, the permanent reduction of a traffic lane and the creation of an expanded promenade sized sidewalk . 

"John Street presents a unique opportunity for the city to allow the public to experience part of our civic realm in a whole new way," says Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD University President. "The Entertainment District is going through extraordinary growth and John Street will provide this community with a unique destination not unlike many great cities around the world. We are pleased to be the first to play a role in bringing art to this transformative public space."

Toronto MADE is building a database of Toronto manufacturers

Manufacturing represents 9 per cent of Toronto’s total employment. And while, of course, that percentage is far lower than it was even 10 years ago, manufacturing remains crucial to Toronto’s employment landscape.

Toronto MADE, a non-profit launched this past May, is hoping to bring renewed attention to the sector. While still in its nascent stages, Toronto MADE has started making progress on its ambitious goal - the creation of the Toronto Manufacturing Network, a virtual hub profiling every manufacturer in the city.

Based on similar models in New York City and Montreal, Toronto MADE features small-scale creators alongside big-time employers.  

"Right now we have mostly small-scale manufacturers featured on the site [including jewelry makers and beer brewers]," says Toronto MADE founder and director Derek Brunelle. "But though small-scale, it’s still manufacturing and still really important."

As the directory continues to grow, says Brunelle, it will work both to link independent manufacturers to each other, as well as to promote Toronto's important manufacturing community.

"The big picture is that manufacturing jobs are good jobs," says Brunelle."Manufacturing jobs tend to pay better and they help to diversify the economy. The hope with this project is to encourage manufacturing in our city and to maybe change the policy discussion to focus even more on supporting this sector."

Eventually, Brunelle plans to start hosting manufacturing meetups and to secure funding to keep the project going for the long term. In the meantime though, he’s focusing on building the network up one maker or manufacturer at a time.

Looking to models like Made in Montreal for inspiration, Brunelle is optimistic that as Toronto MADE grows it will help to facilitate local supply-chains by bringing manufacturers together and will become the go-to place for companies looking to source material locally. And, as with Made in Montreal and other similar projects, every manufacturer added to the directory will also be able to use the Toronto MADE logo to gain recognition for manufacturing in the city.

"The network will become more valuable the more people are on it. Some people have reached out to us, and I’m spending time sending out explanatory emails and cold-calling manufacturers. It’s going to take some time before it’s big enough to be really worthwhile. But so far the reception has been really positive."

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Derek Brunelle, Director and Founder, Toronto Made

Heritage Toronto's newest "boutique" walking tour distills city's history to 10 key spots

Heritage Toronto walking tours cover a lot of bases - everything from the history of Chinatown to the mansions of Jarvis Street, to the workers' history of Spadina

There's a lot to choose from. That's why, after two decades of offering walking tours, Hertiage Toronto has added a new kind of tour--it's the tour to choose if you don't know what to choose.

The new tour, Creating Toronto: Getting to Know Toronto's Heritage in Ten Stops, offers "a big picture overview" of Toronto's history. Almost like a "best of" heritage walk, Creating Toronto covers everything from the footprints in the clay under Toronto Bay (estimated to be 10,000 years old) to the rise of the city's Financial District.

"A lot of our tours are very focused," says Stacey Rodas, director of marketing with Heritage Toronto. "We thought it'd be nice to give a big picture broad history...we haven't really had a tour before that does that. It's really great for tourists who might not know about Toronto, but also for resdients who might just want that overview.

"Of course," Rodas adds, "it's impossible to cover everything, and the tour does stay in the Old Toronto and Ward areas."

But while the subject matter of "Creating Toronto" is broad, the tour itself, says Rodas, will be one of Heritage Toronto's most intimate. One of Heritage Toronto's "boutique" tours, attendance for each Creating Toronto tour will be capped at 20 with a fee of $20 per person. At exactly an hour-and-half, the tour will also be one of Heritage Toronto's shortest. 

"Some of our free walking tours can have a 100 or 150 people so we kind of have to herd people along the street and sometimes depending on how close you are to the speaker you might have to strain a little bit to hear," says Rodas. "We felt for this tour that that a more intimate experience was needed.

"It's short and compact and really gives an overview of Toronto's key moments."

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Stacey Rodas, Director of Marketing, Heritage Toronto

New not-for-profit pushes City Hall to consider climate change warning labels

Rob Shirkey, a Toronto-based lawyer turned activist, recently left his law practice to launch Our Horizon, a federally-incorporated not-for-profit organization dedicated to addressing climate change. 

And while, as Shirkey notes, "climate change is among the biggest, if not the biggest, challenges of our time," the idea he's advocating is simple, inexpensive, and locally driven. 

The idea: climate change warning labels.

The goal, says Shirkey, is to have a law passed that mandates labels warning of the dangers of climate change on every gas pump nozzle at every gas station. Like the warnings on cigarette packages, the climate change labels are meant to get people to pause, to take stock of the choices they're making and to consider other alternatives. 

"We like to think that the responsibility for combating climate change lies only with the oil companies, with the tar sands," says Shirkey. "But it's also us, the consumers, that are contributing.

"The warning labels are meant to put some responsibility into peoples hands."

The warning labels, as Shirkey envisions them, would combine text and visuals to remind motorists of the qualitative effects of climate change (prototypes created by Shirkey and a graphic designer are at ourhoizon.com). 

"We tend to focus so much on cost when we think about climate change. But it's also important to remember that things like species extinction or ocean acidification or human life can't really be quantified in that way (despite economists best efforts). That's what the labels would show people."

The result, he anticipates, will be not only reduced consumption but, more significantly a shift in our collective demand "that will facilitate meaningful action on climate change."

The first step, says Shirkey, is to build local momentum. If it's going to take-off, he says, it will have to start with the muncipalities. 

After a cross-Canada trip advocating for the labels, Shirkey is back in Ontario working with his volunteers to leverage the upcoming municipal elections. Our Horizon has developed it's own advocacy kit (available on their website) as well a database with the contact information of every single municipal representative in the country.

"We know this idea is controversial, and the oil companies in particular won't like it," Shirkey adds. "But we're hoping that if it builds local momentum, one city or community at a time, it will just keep growing. I think it's really important that this is made a municipal issue, because that's really the level where we have the most access to government and this will have to be a citizen driven policy."

Moreover, as Shikey adds, municipalities can use their licensing powers to require gasoline retailers to place the warning labels on their gas pumps.

In the months leading up to the elections, Shirkey and his volunteers hope to get firm commitments from city councilors to look into the idea. 

"All we really want at this stage is a commitment to exploring the project, to get city staff to look at the issue. I think that's a commitment that a lot of councillors could make. And what I've found is that as soon a few are on board, more and more become interested, they always want to know who else is doing it. So the plan, in addition to reaching out to councilors, is to build a website where we track whoever has committed to exploring the idea."

Shirkey's idea has already received a number of endorsements from the NGO and academic community. 

"We all share responsibly for climate change and these labels can help people connect the dots, to face that reality, to get them to start demanding alternatives."

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: Rob Shirkey, Executive DirectorOur Horizon

Scenic Toronto still fighting the billboard battle

Earlier this year, a loose collective of public space advocates launched Scenic Toronto, an advocacy group dedicated to combating what they saw as a strong digital billboard lobby at City Hall (see Yonge Street story on Scenic Toronto here).

Scenic Toronto formed in response to a then-recent staff report that seemed to condone the placement of digital billboards in commercial and employment areas (a reversal of earlier City policy that limited their placement to Dundas Square and the Gardiner Expressway).

Recent developments, however, have shifted Scenic Toronto's ire away from the staff reports and onto the councilors themselves. 

Late last week, in a vote of 22 to 14, council approved a Metrolinx backed proposal to erect four new digital billboards along the 401 and 427. 

The signs would be operated by Allvision Canada and would be built on Metrolinx owned land, thus generating revenue for the provincial transit agency. 
City staff, however, had recommended that council refuse the request, stating in their report "that the four proposed third party ground signs are approximately four to six times larger than and twice as tall as permitted..." Council's Sign Variance Committee also recommended against the idea.

Prior to the Council vote, Scenic Toronto circulated a petition on change.org outlining their objections and urging council "to keep highway 401 free of digital commercial billboards.

"...These digital signs are designed to distract drivers, which will make our roads less safe. Also, the signs are visible from residential properties and will have a negative impact on those communities."

A motion to refer the issue back to committee lost on a tie vote (18-18) leaving the ultimate decision about the billboards with the provincial ministry of transportation. 

City of Toronto launches new initiative to bring public into planning process

The City of Toronto's City Planning division has announced yet another initiative aimed at engaging the public in the planning process. 
Growing Conversations, like other recent initiatives of the planning division--namely the Chief Planner Roundtable and Planners in Public Spaces--uses new forums and new strategies in an attempt to engage more Toronto residents in the project of city planning. 
More far-reaching and multifaceted than existing initiativesGrowing Conversations encompasses four distinct projects. The yet-to-be-completed Growing Conversations Action Plan will layout a new youth engagement strategy, an ethnic media strategy, a plan to develop and build relationships with key city stakeholders ("in order to broaden the City's engagement reach"), and a plan for a new "open data framework to establish clear guidelines for the release of City Planning's data." 
The vision of the new program, as described by chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat in a recent press release, is "to make Toronto the most engaged city in North America." 
While the details of how these four projects will be pursued have yet to be ironed-out, the City anticipates that a concrete action plan will be complete within the year.  
"Engaging our residents in conversations about city building builds a stronger city," said Councillor Peter Milczyn (Ward 5 Etobicoke Lakeshore), Chair of the Planning and Growth Management Committee of the recent Growing Conversations announcment.

"We've seen some really successful examples of that happening here in Toronto, and certainly there are lessons to be learned from elsewhere. What Growing Conversations will do is help us to apply those best practices to all of our engagement efforts, which will ultimately lead to better planning outcomes."
Growing Conversations officially launches on Tuesday, June 24 at the Northern District Library. Members of the public are invited to attend  from 6:30 to 9 p.m. to hear about the program and ask questions of city officials. 

Writer: Katia Snukal

Ontario nurses team up with Toronto hospitals to combat elder abuse

At Friday morning's press conference at their Pearl street headquarters, the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) released a list of 20 recommendations aimed to combat a troublingly prevalent issue: elder abuse and "the neglect of older adults". 
The recommendations, intended for nurses and other health-care providers as well as for the government and educators, will also be released as part of a forthcoming RNAO best practice guidePreventing and Addressing Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults: Person-Centred, Collaborative, System-Wide Approaches. 
Among other things, the preliminary RNAO recommendations call for mandatory education for healthcare workers responsible for the care of older adults. This education would include not only how to spot signs of abuse and neglect, but also how to cover more intangible issues, such as the rights of older adults and protocol for responding to and reporting abuse or neglect. 
The recommendations and forthcoming best practice guide on elder abuse were developed after extensive research. Dr. Samit Sinha, director of Geriatrics at Toronto's Mount Sinai hospital and Dr. Elizabeth Podnieks, founder of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, co-led a Canadian panel of experts charged with creating the evidence-based guide. 
"As a geriatrician, I feel it is imperative to tackle this ongoing and pervasive yet often silent concern," said Dr. Samir Sinha of the recommendations. "With the coming and rapid growth of our aging population, we must stand up, support and protect the rights of older Canadians. The recommendations contained in this best practice guideline will go a long way towards preventing and addressing this important issue." 

The guideline, which will be released in July, will eventually be supported by an e-learning course and a plain language resource for the public. 

Writer: Katia Snukal

York's Southeast Collector trunk sewer nears completion after almost 10 years

The York Region Southeast Collector (SEC) trunk sewer will likely be operational by December of this year. 
After almost 10 years of work and over $560-million spent, it's kind of a big deal.  
Tunneling operations for the SEC have wrapped-up, marking the completion of all major SEC construction. Between now and December, crews will be working to complete all access shafts, odor control facilities, and all surface restoration. 
"The Southeast Collector trunk sewer is an ambitious project, and after more than 10 years of work, it’s gratifying to have it in the final stages of completion," said York Region Chairman and CEO Bill Fisch of the recent milestone.
The new Southeast Collector trunk sewer, built to accommodate additional sewer flows resulting from population growth in the York and Durham Regions, was subject to vigorous environmental assessment and built in accordance with the province’s Places to Grow Act 
Planning and pre-construction of the sewer upgrade has been ongoing for almost a decade, and actual construction has been underway for the past 33 months.  

Writer: Katia Snukal 
Photo: York Regional Council 
440 Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts