A gracious THANK YOU to everyone who signed, shared, and helped raise awareness about the petition to Toronto City Council to review North St. James Town for inclusion in the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy as a Neighbourhood Improvement Area. The petition closed with 857 signatures (print and online) and an additional 18 letters of support from agency Executive Directors, CEOs, MPPs, and Schoolboard Trustees.
On Wednesday, Toronto City Council UNANIMOUSLY approved the motion (23-0) without amendments!
Along the way, the outreach efforts became one of the CBC Toronto’s top stories both online and on the 6:00 news.
With all of this compiled, Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam’s Motion was prepared for City Council.
It will now proceed to the Committee for Economic Development to be reviewed for inclusion in the Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy’s next renewal in 2020.
To: Toronto City Council
Designate North St. James Town a Neighbourhood Improvement Area
We are delivering petitions to our representative in Toronto City Council tomorrow, who is taking the online and hard copy signatures to Council next week. We have successfully reached a satisfactory number of signatures, as well as letters of support from agencies and attention in local media, to satisfy taking this campaign tot he next step. We do hope the campaign can remain visible, however?
We, the undersigned residents of the City of Toronto, draw the attention of Toronto City Council to the following:
• Large-scale critical incidents at 650 Parliament St., 200, 240, 260, and 280 Wellesley St. E. have required multi-sectoral response efforts from the local community, service providers, Office of Emergency Manage-ment (OEM), Red Cross, and all levels of government;
• North St. James Town residents have higher rates of hospitalization than those of other Toronto Central LHIN neighbourhoods, including mental health and ambulatory care sensitive conditions;
• Access to continuous primary care, preventative care are, and alternative level of care (ALC) are lower in North St. James Town than the Toronto Central LHIN average;
• Children and youth have the highest low urgency emergency department visit rates in mid-East Toronto;
• North St. James Town is Toronto’s most densely-populated neighbourhood, with a significantly lower me-dian household income than the City of Toronto, as well as the highest immigrant and recent immigrant populations facing systemic marginalization in public service; and
• Additional factors included in the Appendix to this petition to be reviewed.
THEREFORE, your petitioners call upon Toronto City Council to designate Neighbourhood #74 (North St. James Town) a Neighbourhood Improvement Area (NIA) under the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy 2020 (TSNS2020).
Why is this important?
What is a Neighbourhood Improvement Area (NIA)?
In March 2014, the City of Toronto identified and designated 31 neighbourhoods (out of a possible 140) as Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs) under the Toronto Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy 2020 (TSNS2020). Based on various indicators of socio-economic need, NIAs are given priority status on public and private funding towards community development and sustainability.
What are the domains of neighbourhood well-being?
The City considered five primary and fifteen sub-indicators of neighbourhood well-being, developed by Urban HEART@Toronto:
a) unemployment; b) low income; c) social assistance
d) high school graduation; e) marginalization; f) post-secondary completion
3.Participation in Decision-making
g) municipal voting rate
h) premature mortality; i) mental health; j) preventable hospitalizations; k) diabetes
l) community space for meeting; m) walk score; n) health food stores; o) green space
Why North St. James Town?
Neighbourhood 74: North St. James Town (see map to the left), has, in the two past years, experienced cascading incidents of massive resident displacements due to critical incidents in buildings at 650 Parliament St., 200, 240, 260, and 280 Wellesley St. E. -- all of which have required multi-sectoral emergency response support efforts from the local community, agencies from the St. James Town Service Providers’ Network (SJTSPN), Office of Emergency Management (OEM), Red Cross, and all levels of government.
The critical incidents, and emergency responses thereto, have highlighted the strength of the St. James Town community’s concentrated and coordinated networks, but have also illustrated the need to consider North St. James Town under the TSNS2020.
As Toronto’s most densely-populated neighbourhood, with a significantly lower median household income (see table below), the highest immigrant population (54.2%), and highest proportion of recent immigrants (34.8%) in Mid-East Toronto, North St. James Town provides physical surrounding and a rich infrastructure of opportunity for community decision-making and social development, ultimately providing for economic opportunities and healthy lives for its residents. With a relatively high proportion of residents living with low income, as well as a lower proportion of post-secondary education compared to Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) average, there is a community need for a stronger support system to be put in place to create more equity across Toronto and improve the five domains of neighbourhood well-being to the benefit of St. James Town residents.
Toronto Central LHIN data further identifies that residents in North St. James Town experience the highest rates of marginalization of all the neighbourhoods in the Mid-East. For example:
•One out of every four people (age 19+) have low continuity of primary care.
•Two out of five eligible women get regular pap smear screening.
•Residents have a higher rate of hospitalization for mental health conditions, ambulatory care sensitive conditions, and a higher overall hospitalization rate.
•Children (ages 0-4) and youth (ages 5-19) have the highest low urgency emergency department (ED) visits.
•Prevalence rates for diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are higher in North St. James Town than the Toronto Central LHIN rates, and the emergency department visit rate per 1,000 children is also higher at 785.9.
When NIAs were determined, North St. James Town received a score of 47.55 out of 100, which indicated that the neighbourhood faced a high number of inequities. However, it fell just above the Neighbourhood Equity Benchmark of 48.29 needed to be designated an NIA.
In light of North St. James Town’s unique position as a densely-populated and culturally-diverse neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, and the ongoing critical infrastructure emergencies in recent years, it is clear that North St. James Town faces serious inequities that require immediate action. The erosion of the community’s quality of housing and physical surroundings has had a negative impact on all five domains of neighbourhood well-being. In effect, North St. James Town requires a stronger support system to be put into place by being designated as an NIA.
What are some of the benefits of being designated an NIA?
•Each NIA is assigned a Community Development Officer (CDO) who will:
•Collaborate with residents, service providers, and other City Staff to make sure City services address neighbourhood priorities;
•Support partnerships with residents and community agencies; and
•Work with funders and businesses to bring new investments.
•Neighbourhood Planning Tables, which bring the City together with residents, community agencies, and businesses to implement Neighbourhood Action Plans.
•Resident Advisory Committees with a focus on activating people, resources, and neighbourhood-friendly policies.
•Neighbourhood Grants Program: $1,000-$3,000 to resident-led events or activities.
•Local Champions Program: creating local impact for city-wide change through resident leadership.
oBridging opportunities into college programs
oMembership in a wide network of changemakers
oCity of Toronto Certificate of Participation
•The Partnership Opportunities Legacy Fund (POL): chosen by local community-based partners; $50,000 to $350,000 to support community infrastructure projects that improve city-owned or leased spaces (i.e. sports pads, parks, activity rooms, gardens).
oResidents participate in the improvement of their physical surroundings;
oProject applications collaboratively developed by local residents, City Agencies or divisions, service providers, and City Councillors;
oProjects added to the quality of life of residents; and
oThe improvements to community spaces are long-lasting.