The Year Ahead

In this special update, I explain what this year’s adopted budget means for us in Toronto Centre and the work to be done in the year ahead.

As your City Councillor, I am deeply committed to building a Toronto that is safe, livable, affordable, and commutable. I envision an affordable, economically vibrant city that cherishes its diversity, champions equity, and celebrates its rich arts and culture, making Toronto an ideal place to live, work, and raise a family.

Based on conversations I’ve had with many of you at the door during the last election and at our town halls, correspondence that has come into my office over the past year, and the results of the Annual Safe & Inclusive Neighbourhoods Survey started last fall, my team and I have developed a strategic plan that incorporates your feedback and priorities.

We have a lot of work to do, and change won’t happen overnight, but I have and will continue to be results-driven at City Hall.

Communicating the work my team and I are doing on your behalf is extremely important but can also be challenging due to the volume of work. We have taken the time to setup multiple methods of communication, and I encourage you to subscribe to my monthly email newsletter and other important notifications, check out our new dedicated neighbourhood pages, our new resources pages, and get involved at torontocentreprojects.ca.

Accessibility and equity are also critical to me and my team, so we will continue hosting in-person events, town halls, and going door-to-door throughout the year to maximize our outreach and engagement.

Last fall, I hosted my first round of annual Neighbourhood Town Halls to listen to residents and have a frank conversation about our challenges and potential solutions. I was happy to see over 500 residents turn out. I also launched an annual Safe and Inclusive Neighbourhoods Survey, modelled after the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area’s version, which received over 800 responses. Three key recurring themes emerged: safety, homelessness and housing affordability, and well-maintained and vibrant public spaces.

In this special update, I explain what this year’s adopted budget means for us in Toronto Centre and the work to be done in the year ahead.

Taking Action to Address Your Health and Safety

Our city is growing and evolving, and together, we're adapting to make Toronto Centre a safer, more supportive community for everyone.

I believe that understanding local concerns is essential to crafting effective solutions. Many of you have expressed experiencing an increase in aggressive behaviour, mental health crises, and overdoses in the community and suggested the need for enhanced mental health support, addiction treatment services, and police presence.

I hear you. Toronto Police data confirms these concerns. Overdose calls and mental health service calls have risen, particularly in the Downtown Yonge East neighbourhood. Yet, thanks to efforts like those from the Gerstein Centre, Toronto Community Crisis Response, and our dedicated Neighbourhood Community Officers, we've seen a reduction in Mental Health Act apprehensions.

The city is responding to these challenges. Our new budget invests in safer communities, with funding for youth programs in priority neighbourhoods, an expansion of the Toronto Community Crisis Response to encompass the entire city, and 160 highly visible TTC workers to improve transit rider safety. A major part of this budget includes hiring hundreds more firefighters, paramedics, and police officers, and improving by-law enforcement. Furthermore, last year we launched “Our Health, Our City”, a city-wide mental health and addictions strategy. Over the next few months, an implementation panel will be created to begin working with all city divisions, agencies, and other orders of government to implement the actions outlined in the strategy.

I supported Mayor Chow and her first proposed budget, which included substantial investments in services and programs pivotal to strengthening community safety - notably, an added $12.5 million to the operating budget of the Toronto Police Service. I made this decision after comprehensive conversations with various community and advocacy groups, my Council colleagues, and the residents of Toronto Centre. Toronto's unique policing costs stem from factors such as heightened auto thefts, the hosting of major local, national, and international events and festivals, and the presence of nearly 100 consulates. By comparison, in Ottawa, the RCMP and Federal Government fund the City of Ottawa for policing services required for the consulates there. The planned budget increase will be sourced from the Budget Bridging and Balancing Reserve, which is expected to be fully or partially replenished via Federal or Provincial funds designated for these unique and emergent safety priorities.

Given the anticipated support from the Federal and Provincial governments for Toronto's specific policing needs, the Mayor and City Council supported a motion from Deputy Mayor Morley to increase the allocation to the Toronto Police Services budget, in alignment with the request of the Toronto Police Services Board. City Council requested that the Toronto Police Services Board collaborate with the Toronto Police Service to develop a multi-year staffing strategy outlining the investments required.

City Council also unanimously adopted my motion requesting the Toronto Police Services Board to ensure the 151 recommendations contained in the “Missing and Missed” report, as well as the 81 directives on policing reform, are prioritized and implemented by the Toronto Police Service. The "Missing and Missed" report, released in April 2021 by the Independent Civilian Review into Missing Person Investigations, was designed to improve the Service's policies, procedures, training, education, professional development, and culture. To date, only 32 recommendations have been fully implemented. The police reform directives aim to address systemic discrimination in our city, which deeply impacts the life prospects and opportunities of members of Indigenous, Black and racialized communities and can lead to disparities in health, social and economic outcomes. For many decades, Indigenous, Black and racialized communities have spoken out about their deep mistrust of public institutions, including the police service. The full implementation of these directives is key to restoring trust, police accountability and equitable policing and to developing alternative service delivery models of community safety. To date, only 61 of the reform directives have been fully implemented. I know the importance of these recommendations to our community and hope that the Board and the Chief will accelerate their work and implement them by the end of 2025.

Committed To Addressing Homelessness & Housing Affordability

Many of you have also shared the need for affordable and rent-geared-to-income housing, and the issue of encampments, particularly in Allan Gardens, has not fallen on deaf ears. My Team and I have been laser-focused on working with City Staff to move folks living in the encampments to permanent housing, and I am pleased with the progress we have made to date, permanently housing 91 people from Allan Gardens.

Statistics confirm our concerns about housing and affordability. Toronto Centre has an unemployment rate of 15%, higher than the city average, and a significant number of tenants, 43%, are spending over 30% of their income on housing. Food bank usage has seen a record 27% increase, underlining the financial strain many are experiencing.

However, change is coming. This budget invests in affordable housing, providing 1296 new rent-geared-to-income units and committing $100 million over three years to the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition Program to keep rental buildings affordable. An additional $3.1 million has been earmarked for eviction prevention support, the Rent Bank, and RentSafeTO. We have reduced the multi-residential property tax increase to 3.5% to protect renters from above-guideline rent increases.

Shelters, too, are on our radar. Supported by provincial and federal funds, we've boosted the shelter budget by $444 million and earmarked $1.4 million for drop-in centres. TTC fares have been frozen, and service is being restored to 97% of pre-pandemic levels.

Finally, we're making strides on new projects. Regent Park's phases 4 and 5 will add 630 affordable housing units, and 405 Sherbourne Street has been prioritized for development under the Mayor’s city-builder model. The George Street Revitalization project is finally moving forward, and supportive housing projects secured in the last term at 218 Carlton Street and 502-508 Parliament Street are nearing completion.

Together, we're making Toronto Centre more affordable and inclusive for everyone. I remain committed to working on these issues and creating a city where we can all thrive.

Investing in a cleaner, more vibrant Toronto Centre

I share your concerns about the cleanliness and upkeep of our public spaces. Issues frequently raised include vandalism, graffiti, litter, and overflowing public garbage bins.

Let me assure you that we are working diligently to address these challenges. This budget invests significantly in enhancing and maintaining the vitality of our communities. We've allocated $50 million to fix things in the city and accelerate planned capital investments, including urgent repairs needed at the St. Lawrence Community Centre.

Moreover, our 10-year capital plan is a testament to our commitment to our neighbourhoods and includes:

  • $567.5 million for the George Street Revitalization
  • $6.1 million to address the state of good repair and advancing redevelopment of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
  • $40.7 million for the relocation and expansion of the St. Lawrence Library
  • $17.5 million for the relocation and expansion of the Parliament Street Library
  • $11 million to add the finishing touches to the St. Lawrence Market North building scheduled to open later this year, plus an additional $14 million for approximately 200 TPA Parking spots
  • $35.3 million for Park development and improvements
  • $64.8 million for the Redevelopment of John Innes Community Recreation Centre
  • $4.1 million for the Anishnawbe Miziwe Biik Childcare Centre
  • $750,000 for Breadalbane Streetscape Improvements
  • $547,000 for Yonge-Grenville Streetscape Improvements
  • $350,000 for the Bayview Missing Sidewalk in Corktown

In our ongoing efforts to address the unique challenges facing the Downtown East, last fall we launched a comprehensive review of the Downtown East Action Plan. The revised plan, due to be presented for renewal later this year, will introduce clean streets teams to deal with litter and graffiti on both public and private property as well as support for small businesses affected by vandalism.

Our goal is not just to respond to current issues but to proactively plan for a Toronto Centre that continues to be a desirable place to live, work, and play. Your concerns guide our actions, and your satisfaction is our success. Together, we are building a neighbourhood we can be proud of.

Getting The City Back on Track, Prioritizing Communities

This year's budget is part of a new multi-year approach and is all about getting Toronto back on track while maintaining our vital programs and service levels. We prioritize residents' health, safety, and well-being, and your voices helped us shape our plan. Thanks to all of you who participated in the pre-budget town halls, deputed at the Budget Committee, attended our joint budget town hall, and responded to our surveys.

We've made significant strides in recent months, thanks to the Mayor’s leadership in securing a historic New Deal with the Provincial Government. The uploading of the Gardiner and DVP will help alleviate our capital repair backlog, and after an in-depth review, we've also identified potential savings of over half a billion dollars. This efficient use of public funds means we can direct our resources where they are needed most; towards core city assets such as roads, sewers, water mains, transit, libraries, and community centres.

Regarding property taxes, I understand that the increase is a concern. The proposed increase, less than $1 a day for the average homeowner, is not ideal, but it is necessary to ensure the financial stability and sustainability of our city, especially after years of at or below inflationary increases.

Several tax relief programs are in place to help ​​Seniors, persons living with a disability, charities, ethnocultural centres, and heritage property owners.

 

I know this was a very long update, but I hope this was informative. I am deeply committed to making Toronto Centre a place we're proud to call home, balancing fiscal responsibility with community needs.

Together, we're building a brighter future.

Yours in Service,

Chris Moise
City Councillor
Ward 13 - Toronto Centre

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