The Ontario Government is considering reopening the Finch site of the Humber River Hospital to try to address the large shortage of beds, overcrowding, and hallway medicine in the area and in the province. The Finch site would be used to hold 150 seniors waiting for long-term care. Two years ago, the Wynne Liberals closed the Hospital which has contributed to the severe shortage.
Over the last few years, community members have pushed to create expansions to the Finch site of the Humber River Hospital; efforts have included getting thousands of signatures for petitions which have been presented at Queen’s Park. The location was promised to be kept open for ambulatory care, but instead became an acute care facility and was subsequently closed. Now the Wynne Liberals are scrambling to solve the problem that they have created and ignored for many years.
Tom Rakocevic, Ontario NDP Candidate for Humber River-Black Creek said: “Our community played a big role in the creation of the Humber River Hospital on Finch, and we were disappointed to see it closed despite assurances of the contrary. The government talk on the potential re-opening of this site in some form highlights the government’s mistake to close it down in the first place. Our community deserves answers on the future of this important hospital site.”
Throughout Ontario, there have been thousands of cuts and layoffs to hospitals while we have been facing a shortage of beds. There is a 30,000 person wait-list for seniors’ care, and hospitals all over the province are at over 100 per cent capacity. This disconnection has reduced the quality of the health system in Ontario and has put the lives of many people in jeopardy.
On Thursday, 28 September, 2017, a public consultation was held to discuss proposed changes to the Keele Street and Finch Avenue W intersection. The City of Toronto Planning staff presented three propositions for changes to the area, each presented separately in different stations.
The event had an impressive turnout with approximately 70 to 80 local residents and DUKE Heights BIA members.
We spoke to resident Talisha Ramsaroop-Godinho and asked about her impression of the changes; she said, “I think the city plans are interesting and can benefit the community in many ways. My community will be more lively and walkable, and it also brings about more opportunity for residents and development. For me, it’s important that the community is there throughout the process and that their input continues to be taken into account and the community needs and benefits are being acknowledged as well.”
Former Deputy Mayor, Joe Pantalone, however, took issue with the plans’ general direction and their concentration on commercial development which he thought was facilitated at the expense of more residential development. He stated that, “the Keele Finch Plus Study could have understood and reflected how the corridor has the potential to transform into the heart of the area. It is a unique location, because this is where two major Toronto roads intersect, and there will be extensive access to transit with the completion of the Finch LRT and the Toronto York-Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE).” Pantalone went on to say that, “Given these changes, it is disheartening to see these plans focus on employment use of the land rather mixed use which includes residential development.”
The plans proposed by the Keele Finch Plus Study will surely engender many improvements in the neighbourhood, but they leave some wondering if they fully capture the exponential growth that is expected to occur in the community with the changes in transit.
For more information about Keele Finch Plus and the related public consultation, you can visit the Planning Study’s website and the Consultation Summary. If residents and business owners have any questions or concerns about the proposed changes to the Keele Street and Finch Avenue W intersection, they are encouraged to contact the local business improvement area, DUKE Heights BIA, and Matt Armstrong of the City of Toronto’s Planning Division; he can be reached at 416-392-3521, or via email at email@example.com.
On 21 September, 2017, the residents, business owners and property managers of Downsview, University Heights, and Black Creek communities were invited to discuss the beautification plan and business improvement strategies being implemented by Councillor Anthony Perruzza and Matias de Dovitiis, the Executive Director of DUKE Heights BIA, for Keele Street, Toro Road, and Tangiers Road.
The proposed plan included but was not limited to: new public seating areas, signs, bike racks, garbage and recycling bins, and the addition of green spaces. This plan will essentially change the face of Keele Street.
The objective of these improvements is to create communal spaces to encourage outdoor activities, enhance neighborhood aesthetics, make the BIA more attractive for business investment, encourage people to visit DUKE Heights for leisure and, ultimately, to make it more enjoyable for residents to spend time in the neighborhood. Through these enhancements, Keele Street will look bolder, more beautiful, and more attractive for businesses and residents.