By PAULA FLETCHER, COUNCILLOR,
WARD 14 TORONTO-DANFORTH
It’s been another year of the pandemic and we’ve been getting more used to all of the big changes made in 2020. It feels like we’re in a new “normal,” but I know 2021 has still been tough for many.
Along with the difficulties we’ve faced, there have also been things to celebrate this year. The East End is a compassionate, active and thriving community and I wanted to share some milestones with you as we head towards the New Year.
In the beginning of 2021 we received the amazing news that the COVID-19 vaccines were ready and the vaccination rollout would begin. The Team Toronto vaccination campaign was a joint effort with Toronto Public Health, local hospitals, pharmacies and community partners. Here in the East End, East Toronto Health Partners developed a vaccination plan to ensure community members had easy access to vaccines.
I worked with their team to ensure all neighbourhoods in Toronto-Danforth had vaccine clinics and we identified locations where extra support was needed. I worked with our Community Ambassadors to distribute flyers and information and made sure the mobile vaccine teams visited our seniors’ buildings.
As of December 6th approximately 86 per cent of Torontonians have received two doses. This is an incredible achievement and I’d like to thank everyone involved in the vaccine rollout. We’re now working towards vaccinating children ages 5-11 and over 60,000 doses have already been administered. I am continuing to work with East Toronto Health Partners to make sure everyone is able to get the jab, including booster doses as the eligibility expands.
The pandemic hit small businesses hard and I’ve been working closely with our Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) to make sure the supports needed are in place. The City’s successful CaféTO program was back for a second year and I know so many of you have enjoyed dining on the fantastic patios here in the East End. I’m happy to share that City Council has approved a plan to make the CaféTO program permanent and waive fees for 2022. Restaurants and bars can keep their sidewalk patios for the winter season and the curb lane patios will be back in the spring.
There was more good news for small business as City Council voted to create a new small business property tax subclass that will come into effect for the 2022 tax year. This could mean a property tax reduction of up to 15 per cent for many small businesses, helping to keep our main streets alive and vibrant.
As we headed into the fall, COVID-19 cases were low and vaccination rates were high, so we saw the return of some in-person outdoor events. I know how much we’ve missed getting together the past two years, so it was great to have the Pumpkin Parades and Annual Tree Lightings back. I hope we can bring back even more events in 2022, including the Dieppe Park Skating Party and Community Environment Days.
There have been many other wonderful milestones this year, such as the opening of the new Red Door Shelter in Leslieville, the City adopting a new Inclusionary Zoning policy, beautiful new murals across the East End, and the ongoing work of our community heroes.
If there is one thing we’ve learned during the pandemic, it is that we need to be able to adapt to keep ourselves and our community safe.
If you’d like to get in touch, you can always reach me at email@example.com or 416-392-4060.
I wish you and your loved ones a warm, safe and healthy holiday season and a very Happy New Year.