June is now officially Filipino Heritage Month in Toronto

Scarborough – Councillor Neethan Shan hosted a reception to celebrate the City of Toronto’s declaration of Filipino Heritage Month, starting in June of 2018, and to congratulate Filipino Canadians who helped make it possible. 

“I congratulate all those individuals and organizations within the Filipino Canadian community in Toronto that have been working for a long time for this to happen,” said Councillor Shan.

The motion to declare June as Filipino Heritage Month, brought forward by Councillor Shan, the City’s newly appointed Newcomer Advocate, passed at November’s City Council meeting, and marks the first time Filipino Heritage Month is recognized by any level of government in Canada. 

As part of his motion, Councillor Shan called on Toronto City Council to formally ask the Ontario and Federal governments to declare June as Filipino Heritage Month. Councillor Shan has since written to both levels of government to make the same declaration.

“Declaring June as Filipino Heritage Month will give Filipino Canadians, Torontonians, Ontarians and Canadians an opportunity to learn, celebrate, enjoy and experience the rich heritage and histories of the Filipino Canadian community,” said Shan. 

“It will also provide our City with an opportunity to reflect on the many outstanding contributions Filipino Canadians have made in Canada, and in the world.”

The packed reception featured speeches from leaders such as Paulina Corpuz of the Philippine Independence Day Council, TCDSB Trustee Garry Tanuan, and the Philippine Consul General of Toronto. These community leaders shared what Filipino Heritage Month would mean for generations of Filipino Canadians to come. 

Elected officials also attended the celebration, including Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, MPP Raymond Cho and City Councilor Chin Lee.  The Ontario NDP introduced a bill in the legislature in November calling on the Ontario Government to declare June as Filipino Heritage Month.  MPP Cho called for unanimous consent in the legislature for the declaration. 

The evening featured a series of breathtaking performances by Folklorico Filipino Canada, a dance group committed to enhancing Filipino Canadian identity by preserving traditional forms of dance. 

The reception concluded with Councillor Shan presenting certificates of appreciation to Filipino Canadian community organizations that supported the Toronto declaration of Filipino Heritage Month by sending in letters of support to Toronto City Council before and during the presentation of the motion at City Hall.

The reception was held at the Scarborough Civic Centre on Thursday, November 30.

– Office of Councillor Shan staff


The future of Keele Street: The Keele Finch Plus Study

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 matt.armstrong@toronto.ca


Keele Street to get a makeover

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.