I want to thank everyone who took the time to write to me, contact my office or speak with me to share their thoughts and concerns on the City's proposal to open an emergency shelter and supportive services for men experiencing homelessness. Following the initial information meeting held by Shelter and Housing staff, and two subsequent Councillor-hosted meetings, the staff report on the 731 Runnymede Road proposal came forward to Community Development and Recreation Committee today.
Neither Councillor Nunziata (Ward 11) nor I are members of the Committee, but we were able to attend to hear the deputations and participate in debate. We were also able to have members of the committee take carriage of two complimentary motions to address community concerns with this proposal. Both motions passed unanimously.
Councillor Nunziata's motion directed City Staff to "work with Councillors, the local community and other stakeholders to develop a plan for a shelter program that will meet the needs of an appropriate number of homeless men at 731 Runnymede Road and make a positive contribution to the neighbouring community" and report back to Committee in September, 2016. Her motion also directed Real Estate Services to negotiate a lease for the use of 731 Runnymede Road, subject to the approval of the proposed shelter program plan for the site. A third party facilitator will be retained to engage the community to "better understand and identify concerns and service enhancements required in the area of 731 Runnymede Road to support the community and shelter." Read the full motion here.
My complimentary motion, based on the feedback I've received from residents at our meetings, in calls and through correspondence, calls for the inclusion of a number of initiatives and strategies to strengthen community support in the local area:
a) City Council direct the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration and Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration to convene a Community Liaison Committee with representation from both Wards 11 and 13, including local residents, agency staff, clients, local Councillors and City staff to work on the shelter's establishment in the new location and to refine the shelter service program;
b) City Council direct the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration to convene the services of a third party design expert to work with staff and the Community Liaison Committee to design the exterior of the shelter so it is functional and attractive;
b) City Council direct the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration to establish a communications platform (such as a website or email service) where residents can obtain information and regular reports from the Community Liaison Committee meetings in both English and Portuguese in accordance with the City's translation policies;
d) City Council direct the Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration to report to the Community Development and Recreation Committee with recommendations for a "York/Weston/Junction Strategy" to improve economic development, access to City and social services and land-use planning to improve neighbourhood wellbeing; the Strategy to:
i) be developed in coordination with relevant City agencies and
divisions, including the Toronto Public Library, Toronto Transit Commission, Toronto Public Health and Toronto Police;
ii) be developed through a robust community engagement process that is inclusive of local residents, businesses, faith groups and social service agencies; and
iii) make recommendations to provide adequate funding for the plan.
e) City Council direct the Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration and General Manager of Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, in consultation with the Toronto Police Service, Public Health, other City divisions, local residents, businesses and service providers to develop a "Safe Growth" plan for the York/Weston/Junction area; the Plan to:
a. address issues of safety and security in the neighbourhood;
b. develop a Community Response Plan that outlines standards for responding to neighbours' concerns; and
c. conduct a safety audit of Runnymede Park
f) City Council direct the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration to work with the General Manager, Transportation Services to improve the safety, visibility and appearance of the underpass on Runnymede Rd. and the train tracks by installing lighting and animating the space;
g) City Council request the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration and Executive Director, Social Development, Finance and Administration work with staff from the Toronto Transit Commission to explore opportunities to improve access to transit in the local neighbourhood;
h) City Council request the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration to work with the General Manager, Toronto Employment and Social Services to develop a coordinated service model for clients in the 731 Runnymede shelter program in order to better connect clients to housing, income supports and employment and training opportunities to help them achieve housing stability;
i) City Council request the Medical Officer of Health to write to the Minister of Health requesting Ministry support for a community health provider or satellite primary care clinic within the Rockcliffe–Smythe community to support existing residents and residents of the 731 Runnymede Rd. shelter;
j) City Council request the Medical Officer of Health to include funding for a Community Health Officer in the Rockcliffe-Smythe community to support existing residents and the residents of the 731 Runnymede Rd. shelter in the 2017 Operating budget submission for Public Health;
k) City Council request the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration to meet with the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network to explore opportunities to provide coordinated health services for clients in the 731 Runnymede shelter program;
l) City Council direct the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture to support the development of a Business Improve Area (BIA) in the area;
m) City Council direct the General Manager, Shelter Support and Housing Administration to conduct a six month review of operations, in consultation with the Community Liaison Committee, and the results be reported back to Community Development and Recreation Committee;
This has been a challenging discussion for our community. At committee, it was widely recognised by Councillors, staff and deputants that the way the City involves residents in the provision of shelter services needs to change.
I will continue to work with Councillor Nunziata and communities on both sides of the ward boundaries to ensure that we are building services that work for those who need them and for those who live nearby.
Please watch for ongoing updates on my website at www.ward13.ca
City Councillor, Ward 13