City conducts E.coli tests at five beaches
By Kris Scheuer
(July 22 update here)
Good news for beach dwellers in Toronto. The city has implemented modified water testing at five designated swim spots.
The city will test water for E.coli levels twice a week at the following beaches: Sunnyside, Cherry, Woodbine, Kew-Balmy and Bluffer’s Park.
This level of testing meets the protocol requirements for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, according to the city’s website.
Twice weekly, the site is updated so people can see where it’s safe for swimming.
Another six beaches Rouge, Marie Curtis Park East, Hanlan’s Point, Gibraltar Point, Centre Island, and Ward’s Island have gotten no water testing at all since the strike began June 22. Here it is swim at your own risk, states the city, but there are lifeguards for safety reasons.
When I checked July 4, the latest city update was posted on June 30 and reflected E.coli levels for June 29.
For results see below.
Red means unsafe to swim, green safe to swim and yellow means no city water testing so swim at your own risk.
If you click on any of the beaches below, it will open a map of that swimming spot.
Posted in Toronto Beaches, Toronto News, Toronto Strike
Tagged Beaches, Canada, Cherry Beach, Hanlan's Point, Kew Balmy Beach, Kris Scheuer, Toronto, Toronto News, Toronto Strike, water testing, Woodbine
Toronto labour unrest postpones city policy decisions
By Kris Scheuer
Garbage isn’t the only thing piling up during the strike.
Most official city business has come to a halt, including council’s regularly scheduled July 6–7 meeting which was cancelled July 2.
“The typical council meeting often considers over 100 items over a period of day,” stated a press release. “A regular council meeting is normally supported by unionized staff, who provide services to operate the facility.”
Also, non-unionized staff such as senior managers are required to be present to answer questions posed at council, but they are being redeployed to maintain critical services the statement concluded. Continue reading
That’s if temporary trash sites set up during strike aren’t sprayed
By Kris Scheuer
An infestation of rats and bugs could be coming to a neighbourhood near you thanks to the city’s temporary trash sites.
With the strike now finishing its second week, the mounds of garbage are growing and so are concerns for public health as stagnant waste is left to fester in the summer sun.
“Following visits by Toronto Public Health yesterday to several of our temporary garbage drop off sites and in consultation with (medical officer of health) Dr. McKeown, we are amending our spraying protocol,” Geoff Rathbone, general manager of solid waste management services said July 3.
“We will continue to spray daily for odour control, but will implement a more balanced approach for pest control,” he said. “Therefore starting today, we will spray for pest control based on the results of daily, individual site inspections.”
Rathbone said that this could potentially reduce the amount of pest control spraying that’s needed.
To reduce the need for more spraying, he asked residents to double bag any waste tossed at these temporary mini-dumps. Continue reading
Posted in garbage, Toronto News, Toronto Strike
Tagged Canada, Environment, garbage, Kris Scheuer, Public health, Toronto News, Toronto Politics, Toronto Strike, trash
Sunnybrook Park/Wilket Creek and Centennial Park Arena now open
Christie Pits and York Mills Arena trash sites close
By Kris Scheuer
(July 15 update, 26 trash sites with seven now closed)
The city will close two temporary neighbourhood dumps sites that are filled to the brim and open a pair of fresh ones.
By 7 p.m. today, the trash site at York Mills Arena was at capacity and will be shut down. By Sunday July 5, the temporary dump at Christie Pits will be full, announced Geoff Rathbone, general manager of the city’s solid waste management services.
As a result, the city is opening an additional two locations starting immediately on day 12 of the Toronto strike.
“We are announcing today the opening of two new temporary garbage drop-off sites commencing at 3 p.m. today,” said Rathbone. “One is Centennial Park Arena … and the other is at Wilket Creek/Sunnybrook Park.” Continue reading
Posted in garbage, Toronto News, Toronto Politics, Toronto Strike
Tagged Canada, Environment, garbage, Kris Scheuer, Toronto News, Toronto Politics, Toronto Strike, Toronto Strike Impact
Got a question about city services? Call a lawyer
City staff juggle jobs to keep civic business moving
By Kris Scheuer
Some lawyers must be scratching their heads that after three years of law school they have ended up working in a call centre.
Because of the ongoing strike, many of the city’s legal beagles have been posted elsewhere.
“Some lawyers are redeployed to Access Toronto (the city’s information service hotline) for answering inquiries from residents,” said John Paton, director of land use planning for the city. “Some of the lawyers are redeployed to provincial offences court because the regular prosecutors are paralegals and they are on strike.
“So to keep those (cases) going, there has to be a redeployment for them.”
And some lawyers from his team are doing picket line monitoring.
“They are there to ensure the rights of picketers are respected but also the rights of residents are respected to access city facilities.” Continue reading
Posted in Toronto News, Toronto Strike
Tagged Access Toronto, Canada, Kris Scheuer, lawyers, legal services, Ontario Municipal Board, Toronto, Toronto News, Toronto Politics, Toronto Strike
City strike means committees and council sessions cancelled
By Kris Scheuer and Jackie Allan
|While the city workers’ strike has cancelled council and committee meetings, councillors are going about their business in different manners.
Eglinton-Lawrence rep Karen Stintz has crossed the picket lines to get into her city hall office, but has only been delayed for five minutes while union workers speak to her or hand her a flyer, she said.
Don Valley West councillor John Parker has done the same. Continue reading
Blue flags taken down from city’s seven cleanest beaches
By Kris Scheuer
|The city’s beaches are open to help beat the summer heat. But beware: water testing has been suspended as a result of the city strike.
“We are not testing water at the beaches,” Lisa Tjoeng, a City of Toronto spokesperson, confirmed June 23. “They can swim at their own risk.”
There are lifeguards on duty at the beaches, she said.
On June 10, the city officially opened 11 designated beaches for the season, including seven with international Blue Flag ratings.
The seven Blue Flag beaches are: Kew-Balmy, Cherry, Woodbine, Hanlan’s Point, Gibraltar, Centre Island, Ward’s Island.
But those flags will not be flapping during the strike because some key criteria is not being met, according to Environmental Defence, which monitors the Blue Flag program in Canada.
“Blue Flag certification requires that, amongst other criteria, washroom facilities are available on beaches, garbage is picked up frequently and water quality tests are conducted at least weekly,” states a June 23 press release from Environmental Defence. “Currently, beach water quality testing is not being performed, public washrooms are locked and garbage removal is reduced.”
The labour disruption that began at midnight the morning of June 22 impacts not just water testing at beaches, but also daycare, summer camps, garbage pick-up and pools run by city workers.
For more information on what is and is not open during the strike visit http://www.toronto.ca/labour-relations/index.htm.
(Originally published online June 24 at http://www.mytowncrier.ca)