Affordable Housing, Public health, Smoke-free buildings, Toronto Election

Affordable Housing must be Smoke-Free

Affordable housing was a key issue in the recent 2018 Toronto municipal election. Yet it is important to remember that public health is just as an important issue as affordability, and the science proves that second-hand smoke will travel from one apartment or condo unit to another via cracks, doors, outlets, ventilation, and no existing technology can stop this. In fact, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Position Document on Environmental Tobacco Smoke states the following:

Mixed Occupancy of Smokers and Nonsmokers: If smoking is allowed throughout a space or a collection of spaces served by the same air handler, with no effort to isolate or separate the smokers and nonsmokers, there is no currently available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of ETS (environmental tobacco smoke).

The position document concludes, “At present, the only means of eliminating health risks associated with indoor (second-hand smoke) exposure is to ban all smoking activity.” Furthermore, Cannabis is legal in Canada since October 17, 2018 which means that second-hand smoke exposure in residential buildings may become an even more critical issue. Consequently, as Toronto develops affordable housing lets ensure that it is also smoke-free housing.

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Ontario

A New Path

All too often, especially after feeling disappointed we tend to choose the same path. This path often involves blaming others, seeking scapegoats, and sometimes even mocking those we see as our opponents. The map below of the GTA (from CBC) shows a divided Ontario, where rural communities and urban communities made starkly different choices in our recent provincial election. Right now, it’s easy for us in the cities to blame people in rural Ontario for the election result. Yet, there is another path where we can seek instead to understand rural communities instead of making them the scapegoat. Take a moment, try to look at their situation: The nearest hospital is hours away, there is no local library or school within walking distance, and there is no such thing as public transportation. From their point of view, public services are not designed with them in mind. Times have been hard economically for many people all over the province. So, when someone promises rural communities “more money in their pockets” they might simply see a better opportunity to make ends meet. Seek to understand and don’t seek to blame. Above all always go high, never go low (to quote a very wise person). Just like it was wrong for Don Cherry to paint Rob Ford’s opponents as “left wing pinkos” it is also wrong to paint rural communities with the epithet of bumpkins who adore their rifles. When in fact it’s farmers from these very same rural communities that grow our food. Why not try to forge a new path? If you live in a city try to better understand folks in rural communities and you may be surprised to find that we are all not that different after all.

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“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Public safety

Our communities rise

The day of the Toronto van attack I was at my workplace near Yonge and Sheppard. I had a report to submit and decided not to go outside for my daily lunch walk and ended up staying in the office to complete it. Later that afternoon, the noise of sirens blaring from the streets told me something was seriously wrong. Hours later I would realize just how lucky I was not to have gone outside to the street during lunch time. Tragically, several people in the neighbourhood did not have the same fortune that day and lost their lives or were seriously injured.

This is a neighbourhood where I have worked for the past seven years. The next day, with a heart full of emotion I walked to the makeshift memorial near Yonge and Finch to pay my respects to the victims. The strong support shown by everyone that day and the days to follow was inspiring. Since that fateful day we have seen the community of North York rise. Similarly, I know the Danforth will too rise even after recent tragic events.

Attacks of this nature leave us with several hanging questions: What can be done to prevent them in the future? Are our emergency and police services trained adequately for these types of scenarios? Can the public be rapidly warned of similar attacks or emergencies by text or other technologies to prevent casualties? These questions are borne from one objective which we all share: a safe Toronto for everyone.

Our communities rise. Despite the uncertainty and hopelessness these events may bring, we too need to rise above fear and help find ways to make all our communities safe.

“I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.” ~ Martin Luther King

OneToronto

En français

Toronto, my chosen and beloved hometown

I have been perfecting my French as a student at l’Alliance Française de Toronto. Naturally, I am a strong supporter of French language education and French language services.

J’ai suivi des cours de perfectionnement à l’Alliance Française de Toronto. Évidemment, je soutiens les services au public en français et l’enseignement de la langue française dans notre ville.

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart” — Nelson Mandela

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