Let’s be Real 13 Part 1

Let’s be real. Toronto Centre has issues in mental health addiction, poverty and homelessness. In part 1 of Let’s be Real 13, I will discuss poverty and homelessness.

At one point in my life, I fell on hard times and ended up becoming homeless. Salvation Army Harbour Light Transitional Housing Program helped me get back on my feet, but unfortunately, not too many people can say the same. Part of my success from recovering from homelessness was because I was determined and I fought like hell. I had willpower, determination, tenacity, and refusal to give up.

Toronto Centre social housing is falling apart, and I’ve seen the current state that it’s in first hand. So far, I’ve canvassed in buildings where staircases are riddled with condoms, urine, blood, and needles. And I’m angry.  Garbage in the hallway, boarded up apartment units, floors with 1000s of flies circling the hallway and I’m upset. Many Social housing buildings have become so unsafe for residents that it leaves vulnerable people displaced and trapped in a system that is failing them.

Homelessness is a concern that is neglected at the city level. I’m upset that the city is failing the most vulnerable people in our community and that no one has addressed the obvious: that there are more people becoming vulnerable and living on the streets.

The city had a shelter crisis last winter, and very little was done to protect the homeless. I fear that this winter will be a repeat of last year.

One major issue people are finding with shelters in the ward is that the shelters are unsafe. A spot where violence, drugs and theft are common, people choose to take their chance with the streets to keep them away from the crimes inside shelters. Also, useful to note is that some people who use the shelters often prefer the downtown shelters over locations in Scarborough and beyond, because downtown Toronto is more accessible to services. This leads to issues such as overcrowding during the cold season.

Another sign that’s becoming harder not to miss is that some members of the homeless community have become too comfortable being homeless. Not all persons on the street are like this. I’m referring to the people who made a career out of panhandling, have found a safe living area that allows them access to some or all basic necessities and may even act as security for the area so that they don’t get kicked out for trespassing. I see it more and more outside my workplace and many parts in the ward.

Another shelter relief that is being used by the homeless community is the 24-hour food establishments. 24-hour restaurants have made it easier for people to use as a respite if a person occasionally orders an item off the menu. And what can be done about it now since it has become the norm? This issue is not just a Toronto problem but rather a global problem. An article published recently on CNN.com discussed McDonald’s in Hong Kong is home to people who are homeless and also people who sleep at the restaurants just so they can pay their bills.

Toronto Centre needs leadership that will address these real issues and work with the community so that members are properly housed and supported. Because this trend of homelessness is getting out of hand.

#letsbereal13

Death Political Crawl

Canvasing, promoting my platform, hearing feedback on community issues, while dealing with ward changes has been tough on me and everyone involved. I get asked a lot more about the size of the ward implications for me more than ward issues and how I can help the community.

What has it been like to campaign during these unknown times?

Going up against incumbents and different well known community leaders?

The downtown core hasn’t seen anyone with your stance of leading in a long time. Good luck.

The downtown core hasn’t seen anyone like you running ever, good luck.

One youth from the MLSE Lauchpad community sports program asked me how have I been handling the situation. I told him that it’s like the political version to the football movie, “Facing the Giants”. The scene where the footballer puts a 140lb Jeremy (later we find out he actually weighs 160lbs) on his back, and crawls blindfolded across the entire field (100 yards). In the movie, the coach told the footballer that he would crawl 50 yards.

I have no idea the weight being put on my back or the surprises that have been and continue to come my way during this election, but giving up is not an option. Toronto Centre needs a strong leader that will go the extra mile during times of uncertainty. I don’t want to be the 50 yard individual running for City Councillor, I want to be the strong, 100 yards with 160lbs on my back representative for Toronto Centre.

The city has real and hard issues that has been neglected for far too long. I am focused on community involvement and feedback, so that we as a community, can make it across the field as an example of a successful new ward under the 25 model.

Thank You Candidates

Thank you to all those who have engaged in the opinion piece earlier this week. I was impressed with the responses in general and I do like to keep an open mind when hearing and engaging with the community.

Shout outs to the candidates that put their name forward under the 25 ward in July. I think that those who registered during the initial release of the new model and campaigned, has showed a lot of courage.

The race hasn’t been easy for candidates; with the announcement of reduction, the protesting, the legal battles and the confirmation of ward size. I think it shows a true testament to those that put their name forward initially and stayed true to the path. I wasn’t happy with the council slashing, but it didn’t stop me, or others for announcing their intentions to run under the 25 model.

I think the elections has shown members of the public, the people who went against the slashing, legally fought against the slashing, and then ultimately put their names forward, question who’s interests are they serving.

The members of the public watched candidates’ friends turn into foes. Looked on to see who served to help their friends’ get elected and then ultimately toss them aside. Questioning: is that a leader I want to represent me?

City Council is bipartisan, so many candidates stayed silent during the protest. And rightfully so. It’s in our democratic society to protest and I won’t stop an individual from protesting under the law. I wrote the opinion piece to start a conversation about the province powers over the city and my overall take on protesting the issue. I don’t condemn protesting. I felt that the council slashing protest view needed to be said during the mist of the chaos. I applied for City Council in Toronto Centre and the last thing I want to do is tell someone to not protest or for people to attack me for their right to protest what they feel is unjust.

Looking back, I would have personally liked to have seen a protest and legal proceedings for an immediate referendum rather than a protest stoping a government in charge of overseeing municipalities. Members of the community who showed up to vote for or against would do so. Will there be many voters who stay home? Possibly. The voters that stay home are not silent in the matter. Staying silent also speaks volumes. Suggesting that maybe they just want a representative to do their job.   

Opinion: Bill 5 Protest

My name is Gladys Larbie and I am running in ward 13 as a City Councillor Candidate in the upcoming Municipal Elections. I would like to give a brief update on Bill 5 and the protesting that I’ve witnessed.

I’ll start off by saying that after the announcement of council slash, my reaction was shock as was virtually all of the city and province mirrored response. The premier not only slashed the council size, but also eliminated regional positions as a cost cutting measure.

I’ve heard from many who disagree with the Premier decisions, and I have heard from others that although approve, felt that the way it was done last minute was not right.

I do not understand the reason for the Premier’s timely announcement. I can assume that although council slashing was not a platform promise, Mr. Ford did promise, low cost, effective government and that is what the people of Ontario voted on. The last minute announcement, I’m assuming, is to help with future growth of our economy while running an efficient government.

The Ford Government has been working all through the summer for swift changes to save money for Ontario and to build the economy. Firing of Hydro One CEO and Board Members, ending the York University strike, eliminating carbon tax, cap and trade program, introducing the privatizing sale of cannabis (effective October) and, lowering the minimum price of beer in less than 60 days. I noticed that some areas of changes that community disapprove of; phasing out of ODSP pilot program, Sex-Ed High School Curriculum changes, halt for increase in safe injection sites, and freezing minimum wage. I did not see, unfortunately, from Council and others that disagree, the same passion for the above changes that they have showed for council slashing.

I commend the progressives action for fighting back what they deem to be unfair, but I am offended that the steps that they have taken are not shown in the other areas that the progressives are in disagreement with.

I think that the people opposed to the premiers decision to slash council should also keep in mind when protesting that the people of Ontario want change to occur because they are tired of the state that previous government had created.

Delaying Bill 5 with a notwithstanding clause I think is offensive to me and to the community because again, I have not seen the same passion taken before from the left from other areas. I know that this issue is something not seen in Ontario politics, but the response has been tense and wonder why this type of protest has not gone on before with other issues. The previous provincial government, had made a lot of changes or lack their of, that resulted in non party status in current government. There was no outcry at this level by the people that I have seen in the last 15 years of Liberal power.

I also find it offensive that the current majority government was voted into power for making the province efficient. The minority government officials and city council that are in disagreement, have continued to delay what the voters wanted in their government: efficiency and cost saving. I would hope that the opposition have been mindful when protesting the council slashing, that they are also going against what the majority of Ontario had voted for.

I like to think that voters will vote for leaders who show true leadership during times when things are unclear, and how they can overcome situations that may cause hardship, but are still keeping true to the people.

I applaud the progressive for their right to fight for what they believe is right. I think that the fight should have ended after the judges ruling, and to reconsider/re-strategize protesting after the reintroduction of Bill 5 with a notwithstanding clause. I think now is the time to work with the majority government and City of Toronto to ensure that the election will be set for October 22.

I would imagine that the community would want an election without politicians protesting to the very end and would also imagine that the community would want leaders who do their job effectively without delaying process for something at this point, can’t be stopped.

Affordable Housing

Affordable housing in Toronto is a major issue that needs to be addressed quickly with involvement from all three levels of government. Upon my meeting with community members as well as regular research online, I have been impressed with housing intiatives that are currently in placed around the world.

In Detroit, Tiny Homes Detroit has created beautiful rent to own homes for people with low income that want to have a place of their own. This initiative is great and low cost to build, is an excellent example of sustainable affordable living.
Read more about Tiny Homes Detroit Here.

 

Another alternative for housing that I think would be great for Transitional housing is Shipping Container Apartments. This alternative will also be quick, as well as low cost to build. Poverty and homelessness is on the rise in our community and I think that our city would be better shape if we could help all who live here.  Retired TTC subway cars can also be used for this innovative housing initiatives.

To read more about Shipping Container Apartments, you can read the article from inhabitant.com here.

As well as Apartments For Homeless Article from Business Insider here.

Safer communities

While canvassing #Toronto Centre, I have met and chatted with the community about their concerns. I wasn’t able to reach the tenant in this unit, but noticed the letter on the door. #TorontoCentre we need to feel safe and secure in our area. Our homes is where we should safe and not be in fear of theft and safety. Let’s get our city back to respecting and looking out for one another #communityfirst #TOPoli #ward13 #gladysforward13

Thank You, Toronto

City of Toronto, thank you.

In 2018, I made a decision to run for office. For an instant, I had a moment where I was scared. Scared of the unknown, and scared for the fact that I, Gladys Larbie, wanted to build a movement and empower as many people with my story, vision of Toronto, and bring hope and change to the city.

That moment of declaration, the yes, I am here for this, I stopped being scared and realized that the moment that I enter, it’s no longer about me. It’s everything for my community while educating and inspiring future generations to do the same.

I entered the municipal elections in ward 21. I had envisioned overseeing 20,000 people and the positive difference that I was going to make for my community. I canvassed and reached out to a lot of residents in the area. Ward 21 is so diverse and I was so pumped and eager to just reach and help as many people as I can. I wanted to show Ward 21, that I want to improve the lives of the community and that I am here for them.

The province announced a proposed ward and council number change to city council hours before the city council election nomination deadline. Immediately, I responded to the announcement and agreed with the ward changes, because as a reminder to myself, that it’s not about me, it’s for the ward, and for my city.

My purpose to run and to become an official for City Council, is to provide good government with respect to matters within its jurisdiction. Also as an official to the city, my job will be to support the Province of Ontario, and endorse the principle that it is in the best interests of the Province and the City. The province and the city to work together in a relationship based on mutual respect, consultation and cooperation.

I am eager and willing to serve 20,000 constituents or 120,000 or more. I signed up with the intent to better my community and to empower others to do the same. I don’t see the increase as a setback or an inconvenience as other councillors and candidates who have made a decision to sue the province. I see it as an opportunity to widen the network, to effectively address residents on their issues, and to create a smarter and more effective ways to improving the city. I have heard a lot of people comment that it is a lot of work for a City Council member to oversee.  I have heard the response from councillors that are for the change, and say that they can make it work when you have the right people working for you.

In an agreement with that response, and for people who would like to know about new councillor candidates who are for the change, I would encourage people to look at my website, social media platforms, flyers, and any campaign materials for the election. Whether you agree with my platform or not, I encourage you to look at the work that has been created, the process and hours put into the creation of the content and then reach out to me and ask me how many people did I have on my team to put all of it together.

I am committed to serving the community and my city and I go out to the ward as much as possible, to hear from the community.
I listen to my community and my city and we are upset.
This year, Toronto has faced a surge in gun violence. As a result, the city and the province pledged to increase funding for police presence in our streets as well as local programs for the youth.

So far, the response I heard from my community while canvassing has been, “Well I hope that the funding goes to helping out our streets rather than just locking them up and not having proper programs for reintegration and adaptation to society. Cause buying new cruisers and locking them up is not the solution to the problem”I hear more community members are getting upset over safe injection sites.
“Yellow bins are popping up more and more like McDonalds around here. It’s getting out of control!”.

“A drug user will hop on the Queen Streetcar without paying, ask for change because they’re hungry and homeless. Get off at the next stop and then buy drugs from inside the bus shelter. Why haven’t the police been able to detain the users and dealers?”

“Moss Park is littered with needles that I can’t walk my dog or parents can’t send their children to play in the park. The safe injection sites are tooting about how many lives that they have saved, but I see it as enabling the habit. A user can get as high as they like without fear of dying ‘cause they have access to life saving treatment. And now the safe injection site operators are looking for more funding and permanent place to help them? Where’s the logic?”

Streetcars along King and Queen:
“Streetcar services on Queen and King where a person doesn’t have to present fare as soon as they go on? I can see the frustration from TTC drivers and even riders who can guess who clearly hasn’t paid”

“King streetcar pilot? Not everyone got the message about the new placement of bus stops and cars are still creating blockage on the road because the streetcar doesn’t stop before the traffic lights anymore. It just looks messy”

We need politicians that listen and fight for change that will benefit the community and the city. I continue to knock on doors and listen to residents and hear the frustration over many issues, lack of support, and tired of their voices not being heard. Not only have I listened and continue to listen to the community, I encourage the residents of Toronto to speak up to their councillors and candidates. I will continue to meet residents and encourage residents to reach out to me so we can all work together to build a Toronto Centre that we can all feel safe, grow, and prosper.

Back to School Clothing and Supplies for 650 Parliament

As kids are preparing for back to school next week, many residents of 650 Parliament are still working on gathering basic necessities and long term housing while the building undergoes repairs. Being displaced at anytime in your life is not fair.

For the parents at 650 Parliament, making sure that their child has food to eat and a warm bed at night may be their only concern. Toronto residents, I encourage us to help the community of 650 Parliament by providing any donations and school supplies to The Corner (200 Wellesley Street East)  or Community Matters Centre (260 Wellesley Street East).

Two Hour Transfers on TTC starting Tomorrow!

Starting Sunday August 26, the TTC users will be able to have Two Hour Time based Travel using their Presto Card. Simply tap on transit and travel to your destination with the newly extended transfer. Travel must be in a continuous one way direction with no stopovers.

People who wish to take advantage of two hour travel will need to purchase and activate a Presto Card. People paying in cash, tokens, and tickets will have the traditional transfer rules.

Presto Cards can be purchased at TTC subway stations,  select Gateway Newstands, UP Express, Fortino’s, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Loblaws and Superstores.

For more information, visit Presto.ca and TTC.ca