Since the beginning of the Ontario Place redevelopment process, the Province has had the power to impose their development plan. But the City has been determined to collaborate and find the best outcome for the future of these well-loved, well-used public lands.
Racialized people, and those with low incomes are overpoliced in Toronto. The Ontario Human Rights Commission's 2021 report states “the current model of policing is not sustainable.” In 2022, Toronto’s Auditor General found that 40% of the calls for police service could be handled by an alternative response. This makes up 85,000 hours over five years, and created longer response times for officers in emergency situations like life in danger. Investing in alternative responses are investments in our public safety.
The Toronto Community Crisis Service has been successful in taking a community-based approach in responding to mental health crises without involving the police. This program must be expanded to every neighbourhood to create a safer Toronto.
As a City, we must treat investments in affordable housing, education and employment as investments in our safety and well-being, and we have an opportunity to prioritize these in the upcoming budget.
At the start of their development application for Ontario Place, the Province agreed to respect the City’s planning review process and public engagement framework. Alongside City staff, I have worked to ensure the process is democratic and transparent. That means allowing the public to consider the proposal – and any changes – with full details and with facilitation of City staff in public forums – not through public relations messaging by one of the Province’s lease holders.
In a city like ours, we should be able to welcome people fleeing persecution and looking for a better life. The City of Toronto should have the resources committed by the federal government to do this – and it is unacceptable that is not the case.