The motions I have submitted are in response to a serious lapse in the democratic process where the voices of the seniors at 175 Cummer were never heard, acknowledged nor incorporated into the end design and decision. Further, the units were ordered before zoning was firm in an attempt to “force the hand,” of the provincial government who decided instead to listen to the concerns of the seniors. This land was originally set aside and zoned for seniors and it is their voices that should have been heard first and foremost in the consultative process. While the green space was never designated as a park, it has been used for decades and even defended by past council decisions to preserve the green space for the seniors to use. It is the only green space they have realistic access to, since many have mobility issues.
The seniors at 175 Cummer who are low-income, racialized, and a large majority of whom struggle to speak English, never had an in-person multilingual consultation before the units were ordered and site plan was drawn. I have submitted these motions to stop the delay and try to bring a resolution to the situation where the units can be installed rather than waiting for an unknown outcome at OLT. Maximizing accessible greenspace is important for the present and future residents of 175 Cummer, the addition of parking is to address the current parking situation which is already insufficient to meet the needs of the residents, staff and visitors.
My second motion is a very practical compromise that can be done fairly quickly and would result in the best outcome for everyone. It has taken a journey of listening to the seniors and working with the neighbourhood association to come to this proposed solution. I believe it is the fastest and most guaranteed path to housing. The hastiness and lack of thoughtfulness in past processes is what got us here today. Vilifying those who have questions and concerns is never the way to get things done. The Toronto Star article frames the issue in a way that does not reflect the root concerns of the seniors and does not mention they were not able to participate in English-only online consultations. Further the residents of Cummer Lodge and their families have never been consulted.
It’s easy to label something as Nimby-ism, without ever looking deeper into the issue beyond the surface. No one has said we don’t want to build supportive housing in Willowdale - we are saying we want to do it in a way that makes sense for the community to ensure its long-term success. Surely we in Willowdale can house those in need and respect our seniors.
Taking their concerns into consideration is the right thing to do, rather than pitting one group of vulnerable people against another group of vulnerable people. I hope we can have an expedited process that results in shovels in the ground that creates the best situation for all the vulnerable people involved.
Toronto City Councillor
Ward 18, Willowdale
100 Queen Street West,
Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2
For further details that capture the nuances of this issue, please click on the letter below. This is a letter I will be sending to my fellow councillors about my motions.