Toronto FC: MLS Heroes

It seemed like just yesterday when Toronto FC was facing Seattle Sounders in the 2016 MLS Cup Final. One full year later and the exact same Cup Final was just what the doctor ordered, but this time in the Canadian cold. The TFC boys, coming off a record breaking season, had a point to prove this time around and they did it in spectacular fashion. Michael Bradley, Victor Vazquez and Sebastian Giovinco were unplayable at times and kept Seattle chasing shadows for large parts of the game. Although the decisive goal didn’t come until the last minute of play, Toronto looked comfortable and out for revenge throughout.

Giovinco’s spot-on pass allowed Jozy Altidore to get the goal that would put Toronto one-step closer to lifting the MLS Cup. Even though the tide could have turned at any moment at 1-0, Toronto continued to hold control of the game and eventually scored their second in the dying stages of the match. The second goal-scorer, Victor Vazquez, coming back from a long spell on the sidelines with injury, sealed the victory by beating the Seattle defenders to a cheeky tap-in.

The MLS Cup Champions were crowned that cold night, and it was the cherry on top of a fantastic season from the boys. Toronto FC showed all other MLS teams that there is a new sheriff in town, and they are ready to take on anyone.

Their record-breaking MLS season and their heroics in the MLS Cup post-season playoffs has earned Toronto FC the chance to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League where they will be facing some of the finest teams in North and Central America. Now that they are the Kings of MLS, it’s certainly time to step up the competition and continue this never-before-seen run of dominance by an MLS side. TFC will be taking on the Colorado Rapids in the round of 16 of the CONCACAF Champions League. The opening game will be played in Colorado on February 20 and the second leg will be played on February 27 at BMO Field.

Our Subway Finally Opens

Growing up in our community, the rest of the city felt so far away. As a child of the suburbs in the 80’s, most of my life existed within a few square kilometres. Often, I would find the right spot to gaze at the CN Tower; it seemed as far away as the moon.

My mother would take me to Ontario Place in the summers. We would get on the subway at Wilson and stand at the front of the train looking down the dark tunnel beginning at Eglinton, waiting for the light of the next station. Getting out downtown was like entering another world. A place full of sounds and smells and lots of people, with towering buildings all around.

When our community was built in the 1960’s, Line 1 of our subway system came only as far north as the current Eglinton Station on Yonge Street. From there, it headed south to Union Station on Front Street before looping north to St. George Station on Bloor. In the 1970’s, downtown inched closer to us through the openings of Finch station under Yonge Street (1974) and Wilson station at Allen Road (1978). It was another 18 years before the futuristic looking Downsview Station (now called Sheppard West Station) opened its doors in 1996.

Throughout the years, new bus routes were created through our community and more buses were added to the system. Today, when I groan at a 15-minute wait for a local bus, I often forget what it was like during my teenage years when an hour wait was not uncommon.

The plan to bring the subway through our community became a reality after I began working with Councillor Anthony Perruzza at City Hall in late 2006. The news was like a dream come true. Contracts were awarded in 2008, associated infrastructure work (moving sewers, etc.) began that same year, and drilling was commenced in 2011 and completed in 2013. Throughout the construction, my work afforded me the great privilege to be a part of this incredible project. There were years of setting up consultations about everything from station designs to traffic patterns, meetings with engineers, tours of tunnels and stations at various stages of construction, and much more. On December 16, we held a special open house at Finch West Station where members of our community explored the station. The feeling of anticipation was palpable.

Sunday, December 17, 2017 will forever be a special day in history, for it was the day that the subway through the heart of our community entered operation. On that day, we truly became one with the rest of our city and beyond, and thousands upon thousands rode for free and shared in the feeling of wonder and excitement.

I think for all of us though, the most important day was the Monday after the official opening. On that day, and for the first time ever, I walked a brisk 20 minutes to a subway station to get to work. It was a day that my daily life got a little better, and my smile lasted all the way to Queen Street.


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