Since mid-March, the City of Toronto’s Emergency Operations Centre has been activated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last six months, the City has made significant strides to contain the spread of the virus and support the recovery and rebuild of the city.
Toronto has made it through the summer with good progress in the fight against COVID-19.
Much of the summer was spent gradually reopening the city, bringing back many of the important services that were locked down in the spring and restarting the local economy.
Five key accomplishments the City has delivered this summer that have helped our restart and recovery are:
- Creating more than 9,000 metres of new patio space through CaféTO across the city helping 760 restaurants, creating 44 public parklets, and helping 58 business improvement areas.
- Reopening 22 City-operated child care centres this summer to provide care for 670 children.
- Delivering summer day camps and summer day programs and activities in our parks and recreation centres across the city. There were more than 17,900 registrations for CampTO and over 18,000 visits to our ParksPlayTO and Summer in the 6IX programs. The City also employed 900 young people to help deliver these programs.
- Providing active transportation options through ActiveTO including more than 10 kilometres of open major roads on weekends for cycling, walking and running, more than 40 kilometres of bike lanes – the largest one-year installation of on-street bike lanes in the city’s history, and more than 60 kilometres of Quiet Streets in neighbourhoods across the city.
- Moving quickly based on public health advice to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by making masks and face coverings mandatory on the TTC, inside public places including stores, and in common areas in apartments and condos.
These accomplishments are on top of all the regular frontline City services we continued to deliver all summer long including outdoor pools and splash pads, bylaw enforcement, TTC, police, fire services and paramedic services, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in major road construction, Toronto Water, and other infrastructure projects.
The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/ for answers to common questions.
“Almost six months ago when this pandemic began and we were facing grim projections of what the impact of COVID-19 would be along with seeing this virus raging in other cities like New York and in countries like Italy, Labour Day seemed a long way off. And many of the things that the City has accomplished this summer didn’t seem possible. But thanks to the people of Toronto – the vast majority who have followed public health advice throughout – along with our City staff and countless partners in the non-profit and private sector, we have stopped the spread of the virus, we have flattened the curve and we have moved to restart our city – Canada’s economic engine. And while we are going to continue to be cautious as we move past Labour Day and into the fall and winter, it is this progress through the spring and summer that should give us confidence we can face what is ahead.”
– Mayor John Tory
There have been a number of key initiatives the City of Toronto has delivered since March when the COVID-19 pandemic began that have helped with the city’s restart and recovery, including:
Toronto Public Health (TPH)
- Implemented a mandatory mask bylaw for all indoor settings, including common areas for apartment buildings and condominiums. Developed signage, guidance and a policy to educate the community and support businesses with implementation of this change.
- Developed more than 30 guidance documents for businesses and settings that have reopened to address the unique circumstances of those settings, including day camps, pools and splash pads, personal service settings and outdoor patios.
- Collaborated with the City’s Technology Services Division to launch the Coronavirus Rapid Entry (CORES) Case and Contact Management System to quickly and easily document each individual case investigation efficiently and share data with the Ministry of Health. The web-based, secure system allows TPH to better keep up with the volume of new reports and prioritize individual cases that require urgent follow-up, such as healthcare workers.
- Mobilized and increased workforce responsible for case and contact follow up to approximately 700 staff and conducted more than 16,000 case investigations.
- Created a monitoring dashboard that is updated three times per week to continue closely monitoring trends of COVID-19 cases, health care and public health capacity, and lab turnaround.
- Opened eight emergency child care centres, which provided care to 393 children of essential workers.
- Reopened 22 Toronto Early Learning & Child Care Centres, with an operating capacity of 670 children.
- Hosted virtual community of practice live group sessions for nearly 2,207 child care staff to support centres in planning to reopen safely and received more than 98,000 views of the online health and safety training modules.
- Supported 484 licensed child care programs in reopening, with a further 67 reopening soon.
Transportation and TTC
- Implemented ActiveTO, a suite of programs that has created shared space on neighbourhood streets, opened major roads each weekend for people to be physically active while respecting physical distancing guidelines and delivered a more connected and expanded cycling network.
- Major road closures on weekends continue to make more than 10 kilometres of major roads in Toronto available to people. Thousands of residents use parts of Lake Shore Boulevard and Bayview Avenue, both of which run along popular trails and parks, to maintain physical distance.
- Quiet Streets are neighbourhood streets as shared space for local residents to walk, bike and drive slowly. More than 60 kilometres of Quiet Streets at more than 30 locations were installed this summer. As well, more than 9,400 Quiet Streets surveys have been completed to date and general feedback has been that they have helped calm traffic while making neighbourhoods even more liveable.
- ActiveTO cycling network has seen the rapid installation of approximately 31 kilometres of temporary and permanent bikeways in Toronto. By the end of the year, there is expected to be approximately 40 kilometres of new on-street bike lanes installed, which would be the most in a single year in Toronto’s history. The new bike lanes are connecting more people on bikes to where they want to go, providing alternatives to riding transit, and creating a safer cycling environment.
- The TTC has over 95 per cent mask compliance since the policy was implemented at the beginning of July. One million masks are being handed out to riders who do not have one.
- Almost doubled the expected output of certain TTC track maintenance work. Replaced 1,547 rail ties and ballasts (828 were planned for this year). Rail ties support the subway tracks and ballasts support the ties – replacing these ensures tracks are able to stay in good working order to continue to provide reliable service to customers.
Economic Development and Business Supports
- CurbTO was created to help businesses, services and community agencies support physical distancing outside and inside their buildings while also accommodating increased demand for delivery and pickup services. At it’s peak, more than 200 locations were installed around the city.
- CaféTO supports 760 total restaurants in 58 Business Improvement Areas (BIA) with 94 of the total number of restaurants not in an area with a BIA. The program has seen 407 curb lane closures installed, which occupy 9,015 square metres of space, 44 public parklets and 374 curb ramps for improved accessibility.
- Economic Development and Culture has put more than 25 innovative new programs in place to help approximately 12,000 business owners stabilize and begin to rebuild. Digital Main Street alone has supported more than 4,600 businesses with virtual assistance, with another 4,017 online retail stores being built under ShopHERE powered by Google using more than 1,000 volunteer web developers and students from 27 countries.
Community Recreation and Libraries
- CampTO has offered approximately 1,200 programs with more than 17,900 registrations, offering 41,600 services hours.
- ParksPlayTO and Summer in the 6IX has offered more than 15,000 services hours with approximately 18,000 visits.
- Approximately 660,000 participants have accessed outdoor pools across the City as part of SwimTO. Outdoor pools will close for the season after Labour Day weekend.
- Opened 72 library branches for browsing, borrowing, study space, and access to Wi-Fi and 478 computers. Circulated more that 4.6 million ebooks, audiobooks, movies and newspapers and delivered more than 360,000 online courses.
- Served 38,000 residents at 12 library branch pop-up food banks and distributed 4,230 free books in food hampers to children and teens.
Enforcement, Licensing and Permits
- A COVID-19 Enforcement Team has been established to enforce the City’s physical distancing bylaw amendments for parks and public squares, mandatory mask or face covering bylaws, licensing bylaw amendments for food and drink establishments, provincial orders on the size of gatherings and provincial Stage 3 orders for reopening businesses, facilities and venues.
- The City’s coordinated enforcement team remains focused on providing education about bylaws and provincial orders. Ensuring compliance through education and awareness remains the preferred method of engagement, but enforcement continues to take place if necessary.
- The coordinated enforcement team has received more than 23,000 complaints, issued 1,340 tickets to date and educated more than 36,000 people.
- Conducted approximately 8,200 compliance checks in response to 3,000 complaints related to businesses.
- The RentSafeTO Apartment Standards program is enforcing COVID-19 health and safety measures in rental apartment buildings and the City’s temporary bylaw requiring masks or face coverings in common areas in apartment buildings.
- Launched a new online Business Licences & Permits Application so businesses can apply for new licences and permits virtually. To date, 833 new licence applications have been processed and the team continues to improve the process for enhanced client experience.
Shelter and Housing
- Moved more than 3,500 people throughout the emergency shelter system to achieve physical distancing of two metres between shelter beds. This includes:
- Opening more than 30 temporary shelter sites with over 2,000 beds through the use of hotels, community centres and other locations.
- Successfully permanently housing more than 1,500 people who were homeless through a combination of housing allowances and rent-geared-to-income units.
- Moved almost 800 people from at least 54 encampments to inside safe spaces including hotels, shelter and housing.
- Worked with health care partners to establish dedicated isolation and recovery programs with medical supports for people experiencing homelessness to isolate and recover from COVID-19 in a safe and dignified way, and to ensure the health care system was not overwhelmed.
- Provided more than $6 million in funding to shelters, 24-hr respites and drop-ins run by partner agencies for infection prevention and control, personal protective equipment, wage increases and extended hours of service.
- This significant response was implemented with unprecedented speed in order to save lives and protect vulnerable people, who are at greater risk of COVID-19 related harms and was successful in minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in the shelter system over the first months of the pandemic.
- Allocated $2.4 million to address youth violence and community response to violence during the pandemic.
- Distributed $4.97 million to more than 50 community-based agencies, supporting vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic, with funds prioritized for Black- and Indigenous-led organizations in the first round of allocations.
- Distributed 22,105 food hampers to 3,182 eligible residents through a partnership with the Red Cross and distributed approximately $2.4 million of food donations to more than 246 community agencies.
- More than 40,000 mental health support calls/sessions have been held with Torontonians since April 27, with more than 17,000 of those calls/sessions held with seniors.
- The City has partnered with Cisco and other technology and telecommunications companies to provide free temporary internet access to some of Toronto’s most vulnerable communities for up to one year. These Wi-Fi hotspots will improve digital access for many Torontonians with low incomes living in residential tower communities by the end of 2020.
Recovery and Rebuild
- Received nearly 13,800 responses on the public survey on COVID-19 recovery and rebuild between May 29 and July 15.
- Held 20 virtual meetings with more than 200 stakeholders, hosted by Mayor Tory.
- Led more than 240 theme-based roundtables and meetings with stakeholders, individuals and organizations.
COVID-19 Materials and Resources
- As the trustworthy source of information on the City’s pandemic response and recovery plans, toronto.ca/covid-19 content has been viewed 11.9 million times since March 13.
- Key communications materials and public education campaigns have been developed in multiple languages and in accessible formats to ensure all residents are able to access important information on how to stay safe and find helpful City services.
- Communications methods include daily media briefings, web content, social media, online ads, radio spots, digital billboards, newspaper ads, downloadable and printable posters, digital screens in residential buildings and transit shelters.
- City-developed posters for physical distancing and mask wearing have been downloaded 22,000 times.
- Since May, the City’s videos about choosing and wearing face masks and coverings have been viewed more than 77,000 times on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Other City Services
- Re-activated the Parking Permit office and issued more than 30,000 new or renewed residential on-street parking permits between July 3 until August 14.
- The Work Zone Coordination team has approved more than 3,700 rush hour exemptions and extended work hours for private developers and utilities to support worker safety.
- Conducted advanced annual weekend maintenance and improvement closures for both the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to take advantage of lower traffic volumes.
- Completed 15 new street art wall murals celebrating Toronto’s Front Line Heroes as part of the Street Art Toronto program.
- Provided regular garbage, recycling and organics collection without interruption, and increased the amount of waste bins along the waterfront and collection of bins in high-traffic areas.
- Transformed Community Environment Days to drive-thru events that will take place throughout September and October at City Drop-off Depots.
- Developed a new program offering assistance to pet owners who are experiencing hardship and struggling to care and provide necessities for their pets due to COVID-19. Thanks to donations from residents and PetSmart Charities of Canada, 730 pet owners have been provided with gift cards to purchase pet food and supplies.
- Select Court services were resumed through new, enhanced processes that protect staff and the public by reducing the need for people to visit a court in person.
- Lawrence Market maintained continuous operations over 25 weeks since the initial declaration of the COVID-19 health emergency in Toronto by enacting enhanced safety precautions including capacity management, mandatory use of non-medical masks or face coverings, physical distancing and enhanced sanitization protocols.
- Created the TOArtist COVID-19 Emergency Response, an artists’ relief fund in collaboration with the Toronto Arts Council and disbursed $837,000 in emergency funds to 982 Toronto Artists at the outset of the pandemic.
- Established the Indigenous Arts and Culture Partnerships Fund to support partnerships and collaborations that create new opportunities for Indigenous-led arts and culture. Providing a maximum of $10,000 per project, incubation funding will support the development of new partnerships and first-time initiatives.