Downtown East Enhanced 12-Month Action Plan
The Enhanced 12-Month Action Plan includes 36 actions in the focus areas noted below. Learn more about the six focus areas and the actions associated with each theme.
The goal of this focus area is to address issues arising from mental health concerns.
Improve full-time front-line staff awareness and training on how to respond to community mental health issues and access to mental health resources.
Provide mental health promotion workshops to community service providers in the Downtown East Area including Suicide Prevention and Workplace Mental Health Promotion.
Deliver mental health promotion and substance misuse prevention programming in local schools, including youth leadership initiatives, parenting programs, and school staff support to address mental health literacy, anti-stigma, as well as safe and caring environments in schools. This work will be enhanced in response to recent changes in drug legislation and Downtown East community concerns.
Explore opportunities to increase harm reduction staffing and wrap-around programming for shelters, 24-hour respite sites and drop-ins. Work with Social Development, Finance and Administration to engage with local stakeholders to identify funding resources to hire additional harm reduction supports.
Substance Use & Harm Reduction
The goal of this focus area is to address issues arising from substance use through the lens of harm reduction.
Target roll out of overdose prevention training and naloxone distribution program within funded shelters and 24-hour respite sites to support overdose prevention, reduce overdoses and meet the unique needs of service users.
A survey was completed on the training needs of shelters and drop-ins in relation to overdose prevention. This survey will also help to establish necessary training levels. Staff will report back with results in the second quarter of 2019 as part of the Downtown East Report to Council.
Provide training to key front line parks, facilities and recreation staff on overdose prevention, education and response as well as deescalation, tact, and diplomacy when dealing with complex situations.
Community Recreation and Parks staff will promote harm reduction resources and facilities such as supervised injection sites and treatment facilities.
Work in partnership with City Divisions, community organizations and local businesses to strengthen outreach and harm reduction strategies, including the promotion of SIS and to provide overdose prevention training in the Downtown East Area. Measures of success will be identified, monitored and reported.
Develop and share guidelines for indoor and outdoor sharps disposal with City Divisions, ABC’s and community organizations.
Support the scaling up of harm reduction services in response to the opioid crisis, including:
- supporting applications for overdose prevention sites and supervised consumption sites
- supporting harm
reduction policy development
- facilitating partnerships between
community organizations and the City.
The Community Safety and Well Being Unit staff will review ways to incorporate community safety and violence reduction considerations as part of the scale-up plan for harm reduction services in the area.
Work with relevant partners to engage Indigenous organizations on Downtown East public service needs and recommendations regarding harm reduction, mental health and homelessness.
Request two temporary positions to enhance harm reduction supports in the area for a one-year period. Staff will explore opportunities to hire additional harm reduction supports (a minimum of 10 temporary positions), including peer-to-peer support workers, to enhance mobile harm reduction supports for a one-year period, and offset the costs from Toronto Central LHIN funding where possible.
Request seven additional staff to provide enhanced harm reduction outreach in 2018 with an initial focus in the Downtown East area. Toronto Public Health will monitor and evaluate needs throughout the City and adjust service accordingly.
Services will include promoting existing harm reduction services, safer drug use equipment disposal, connecting people to other services including housing, income, food and mental health services and
providing harm reduction counselling and support. This funding would be from a 2018 provincial enhancement to public health and is contingent on the City of Toronto providing the 25 per cent cost shared amount.
Housing, Homelessness & Shelter Support
The goal of this focus area is to address issues related to the precarious housing situation in Downtown East and how this can exacerbate issues of homelessness, mental health and substance use.
Offer planned recreation programs and leagues to individuals living in shelters or are affected by homelessness (Downtown East End Softball League, and related volleyball, soccer and yoga programs).
Review sign-in protocols for recreation programs to ensure no barriers exist to those without a fixed address and photo identification.
Provide access to City washroom and shower facilities at three community centres within the DTE boundaries during regular operating hours, seven days per week. Expanded service levels for facility access will occur at John Innes Community Centre during the summer months to bring service levels to a seven day-a-week operation. Seven day access will continue at all three community centres for the start of the fall season. A communications strategy will be developed to support this action.
Front-line staff have reviewed and revised safety protocols – facility sweeps in pairs, introduction of walkie talkies and continued use of duress buttons. Security guards are being hired for John Innes CC. New staff will be trained on safety protocols. Relevant full-time front-line staff will be provided de-escalation training from the Hostel Training Centre.
Explore and secure opportunities to increase access to healthy foods for vulnerable communities.
Undertake deep consultations with respite service providers to support the ongoing development and refinement of the permanent respite standards that take effect in November 2018. The consultations will focus on opportunities for enhanced safety, community development and integration. Service providers from across the City will be asked to participate in these discussions, and the feedback received will help to inform both the respite program model and the permanent standards for respite sites.
Launch a new role of Community and Client Engagement Coordinator embedded in the Downtown East. The Community and
Client Engagement Coordinator will be responsible for brokering social services, recreational and education programming and opportunities for the users of 24-hour respite sites. The coordinator will establish and maintain effective working relationships with City councillors, local leaders, organizations, residents and other community stakeholders. In addition, this position will be responsible for proactively addressing local concerns, improving communication, and mitigating negative impacts in the community.
Community Safety & Violence Prevention
The goal of this focus area is to address the high prevalence of violent critical incidents experienced in the community which has increased in recent years.
Development of a communication protocol with community input to mobilize support for information and effective responses to violent and traumatic critical incidents. Special attention will be paid to the Victoria
Street Supervised Consumption Service. The community will be consulted and the protocol will be made available to stakeholders. Staff will report back on the protocol in the second quarter of 2019.
Mobilize coordinated Community Crisis Response to violent and traumatic incidents to address victimization and community impact. Responses are triggered when incidents such as shootings, stabbings, assaults and gang/gun activity take place in the community. Responses could include psycho-social supports, victim supports, witness supports and other measures to address community impact.
The Community Crisis Response Program will activate Community Crisis Response Protocols and have an on the ground presence within 12 to 72 hours of an incident. Effectiveness measures such as
timeliness, communication, coordination and accessibility to services will be utilized to review responses.
Mobilize inter-sectoral responses to situations of Acutely Elevated Risk.
Work with community members, inter-departmental staff, BIAs, and City councillors’ offices to facilitate workshops, events and initiatives such community safety walks and park safety audits. Establish monthly community safety training and walks.
A working group will be established with noted stakeholders and monthly meetings will be held.
The goal of this focus area is to address the lack of employment and training opportunities available for residents, and leverage City policies to encourage economic development that incorporates residents.
Explore community benefits agreement and social procurement opportunities that may arise from City procurement or new development in the area to achieve social and economic benefits for local communities.
Planning, Parks and Public Realm
The goal of this focus area is to address the need for safe and hospitable public spaces and parks for all residents and community members.
Initiate review of enforcement approach and policies related to illegal dumping on private property and staff will report back on the outcomes and measures of success to the Community Development and Recreation Committee in the second quarter of 2019 as part of the Downtown East report to Council.
Staffing for dedicated park clean-up detail crews for parks (referred to as “flying squads” in motion b12) in the identified hot spot areas from July to December to increase service levels to six times per week.
Note: PFR has dedicated as much time to litter and needle pickup as possible within their 2018 operating budget and staff complement such that they are now providing twice weekly, and sometimes more often, litter and needle cleanup for “Hot Spots” in parks in the Downtown East. Normal service for all parks is once weekly.
The extended scope of work of Solid Waste Management Services and Transportation Services to provide laneway cleaning and roadway sweeping services are itemized in actions 28 and 31.
Increase staffing for Parks Ambassadors serving hot spot areas in Downtown East from July to December.
Note: Ongoing funding for one full-time and one six-month seasonal position within the existing budget. In 2018, one-time funding was added for a total of two full-time and four nine-month seasonal positions until the end of the year.
Extend the scope of work for the flying squads to include laneway cleaning from June to December 2018 by increasing service levels to three times daily cleaning.
Note: Current service levels include monthly cleaning in all laneways city-wide, bi-weekly cleaning of laneways in wards 27 and 28 and twice daily cleaning in priority hot spots in the Downtown East area. Solid Waste will also continue to provide 24-hour response time for on-demand service in all laneways.
Weekend clean-up blitz led by Solid Waste with a crew of four staff to provide additional sweeping, litter pick-up and other clean-up services in hot spot areas in the Downtown East area on an as needed basis. This is in cooperation with Transportation Services.
Work with City Divisions and community organizations to increase the number of needle drop boxes in the Downtown East area including consideration of parks and open spaces.
Extend the scope of work for the flying squads to include street sweeping and roadway cleaning from June to December 2018.
Note: Current service levels include sweeping once a month for all roads in this area. There is also daily sweeping of arterial roads in the area.
Advance the workplan to repair and replace Astral street furniture in the Downtown East area and consult with local stakeholders on the placement of any new furniture along Yonge Street between Bloor and Queen streets, scheduled for 2018 to 2019.
Remove abandoned newspaper boxes and corrals by August 2018.
City Divisions will collaborate via the Downtown East Project Management Table and with the local community to explore beautification, public realm improvements and local engagement opportunities.
Increase opportunities for youth and children’s programming.
Establish and implement a protocol for data sharing between area stakeholders and City Divisions, including first responders, to ensure broad awareness of safety issues (i.e. unsafe activities, needle disposal
locations, needle related injuries and other hazards).
Immediate Actions in the Downtown East Area
In order to address the immediate challenges in the area, the City has taken action to enhance cleanliness, safety and harm reduction services in the area. For example:
- Staff dedicated to provide more frequent clean-up of roads, parks and laneways in priority hot spots across Downtown East.
- Toronto Police Services in 51 and 52 Division will provide enhanced services on the night shift in the summer months in area including Yonge-Dundas Square.
- Additional staff to provide enhanced harm reduction outreach services.
- Regular meetings of the Furthering Our Community by Uniting Services (FOCUS) Downtown East table, a partnership between the City of Toronto, Toronto Police Services and the United Way. FOCUS mobilizes inter-sectoral responses to situations where there is high risk of anti-social or criminal behaviour.
- Enhanced staffing for Parks Ambassadors to provide four seasonal and two full-time staff to the end of 2018 to help address the accessibility of our parks and public green spaces.
A selection of the immediate actions are highlighted in the graphic below.
Download the Enhanced 12-Month Action Plan.