The new North York Women’s Shelter is almost ready to open

The North York Women’s Shelter has released ground-breaking news – they will have a brand new facility come Autumn 2019. During the closure of the former site, residents have been relocated to other locations or have found long-term housing accommodations. Upon the launch of the new facility, women and children will be gradually transitioned into the space in order to bring the shelter back to full capacity and best serve the local community.

The facility will be 24,000 sq. ft. in size, with an abundant amount of windows installed to allow for natural lighting throughout the building. The reception and intake area has been envisioned to instill a calm atmosphere, with comfortable furnishings and soft music set to play in the background. There will be a secondary entrance for visitors and those looking to inquire for more information about the space.

Numerous lounges have been integrated into the floor plan of the facility. These lounges are large enough to both accommodate and encourage a social atmosphere and overall sense of community. The kitchen and dining room area have been specifically designed for a communal purpose. Residents will be encouraged to cook for themselves as well as eat together at each meal. The notion of supporting one another through routine and open spaces is integral to the health and wellbeing of the residents. There will also be a sufficient amount of counsellors to provide additional advice, provisions and referrals. In addition to providing refuge and treatment, the aim of the programs that will be offered will be to break the cycle of violence and spread awareness to the community.

In terms of outdoor space, there will be a fenced-in garden and BBQ area in place for the enjoyment of the residents. Women can watch their children play together while they relax in a secluded space together.

The initial capacity of the building will be 30 people distributed between 17 bedrooms. Each bedroom will have a private bathroom for the sake of further ease and contentment. The 30 count includes both women and dependent children who will be utilizing beds, but not toddlers and newborns, as they will be provided with their own cribs. The maximum capacity for the new facility will be 40 people.

Another prominent feature of the new shelter is the pet lounge, which will be situated in the basement. Allowing women and children to bring their pets with them assists with the transition into the facility and into future accommodations. Pets and support animals offer emotional fulfillment and familiarity.

The new North York Women’s Shelter will serve as a benchmark for future housing designs and projects. The new facility will cost $12 million to construct, with $9 million secured and an additional $3 million remaining to be solidified through fundraising efforts. The Rotary Club of North York is a key stakeholder and donor for this project, having gifted the largest donation in the club’s history.

Action Keele: Organizing the community for better public services

Action Keele, a local community group, has been organizing to improve service on one of the worst bus routes in the city—the 41 Keele route. The group maintains that this situation is not the drivers’ fault and instead, that working class and immigrant neighbourhoods, like those served by the 41, tend to be ignored by City Hall.

After months of research, planning, collecting over 100 surveys of 41 Keele riders, and doing a ride-along with a supportive 41 bus driver, Action Keele officially launched its campaign on December 12, 2018. Since then, the group has collected over 700 signatures on its petition, which has the following as their main demand: Put the 41 Keele bus on the 10-minute network.

“This will mean more reliable service, less overcrowding, and less stress for drivers and passengers on the buses that workers depend on every day,” says Jordan Haus, co-chair of Action Keele. The bus drivers union, ATU local 113, seems to agree. In April, the union formally endorsed Action Keele’s campaign and its demand.

When they reach 1000 signatures on their petition, Action Keele will deliver the petition to the Mayor’s Office and the TTC Board, and pressure them to make the much-needed changes to the 41 route.

As they continue to push for better public transit, Action Keele is gearing up to connect with the over two-dozen public schools along the bus route. In light of the recent funding cuts to education made by the Doug Ford government, members of the group fear that these already-underfunded schools will see even further deterioration.

“There are at least seven schools on the Keele route, by our count, which the Toronto District School Board considers to be under-capacity. With the cuts imposed by Ford, many of these schools are at risk of being sold off to private developers. We can’t let that happen,” warns Umair Muhammad, member of Action Keele.

Whether it is a local bus or a neighbourhood school, there are countless families on and around Keele street whose daily lives are impacted by the condition of public transit and of public education. Action Keele is organizing to bring those families together to collectively build better public services for us all.

If you would like to find out more about Action Keele, or get involved in their transit and education-related organizing, you can email them at actionkeele@socialistproject.ca.

Earth Day at Downsview Park

For more than 15 years, Earth Day at Downsview Park has been a go-to event for families looking to get involved in the world’s largest environmental movement. This year, the Park is excited to celebrate another Earth Day with a day-long event that promises to be bigger and better than ever!

This year, we’re offering a host of new and family-friendly activities which include: an outdoor vendors’ market, self-directed scavenger hunt, free workshops on how to make your home more ‘green,’ and much more. Best of all, every activity is FREE—we hope to see you there!