The State of COVID-19 in Canada (2020-04-23)

Canada continues to steadily move toward flattening the curve, but it has not yet reached that point. Ontario and Quebec continue to contribute about three quarters of newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 per day, and over the last week British Columbia has seen a slight reversal of the gains it has made over the three weeks prior.

Although there are many positive signs, including data showing that five provinces may be able to begin reducing physical distancing measures when a fast and reliable testing method available, Canada has yet to reach the all important point of inflection when we begin to see the curve actually start to flatten.

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The State of COVID-19 in Canada (2020-04-16)

The Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, has indicated that there is cautious optimism that the COVID-19 epidemic is slowing down. From Dr. Tam’s pan-Canadian view of the progression of the epidemic, Canada is on the right track.

Below is a chart describing the progression of the COVID-19 crisis across Canada. 

The blue and red lines show the total number of confirmed cases as well as the daily increase in cases respectively and are plotted on a logarithmic scale (right). The green lines show the rate of growth in the number of cases with the thin green line shows the ratio of growth as a function of new cases that day vs. the number of cases the day before; a number less than 1.0 means that the number of new confirmed cases that day was less than the day before. The thick green line shows a weighted average of the daily growth ratio in order to better derive the trend.

Since the 5th of April, the trend across the whole of Canada has been one of a stabilized number of new cases being confirmed each day; an average of 1,259 cases a day. This is consistent with what the growth ratio demonstrates as it approaches the all important 1 line representing one new case confirmed based on the previous day. This, however, does not mean that the country can return to normal.

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How Community Service Agreements Can Make Toronto Better

Part of the rationale for amalgamating the six Metro cities into the new City of Toronto in 1998 was that it would realize cost savings and efficiencies. As noted in the Chief Administrative Officers report on the amalgamation process to Council in 1999 seventy three percent of the value of the operating budget at the time of amalgamation had already been harmonized through programs and services operated at the Metro level of government. It was only within the remaining twenty seven percent that efficiencies could be derived.

Nearly twenty years later and the dream of a fully harmonized City of Toronto still eludes us with councillors fighting tooth and nail to preserve historically derived services that are exclusive to only a few communities within the city. Besides the cost implications there is also the questions of equality and fairness by having the residents of the whole city pay for services enjoyed only by residents in parts of the city.

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How to Build More and Better Public Spaces

Is this a public space?

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Landscaped area visible from King St. just east of Jarvis St.

You might be surprised to learn that it is. It is a Privately Owned Public Space – POPS for short – which means that although it is private property and maintained by a private owner it is meant to be a space which is accessible and used by the public.

But more and more owners of these spaces are going to great lengths to discourage the public from using these spaces. Designs that incorporate walls along the street, constructing gates and fences, and displaying signs that gives the impression that the space is for private use only.

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A ‘Drain’ or the Story of Toronto?

A drain feature. “I cannot justify spending … $1.96 million for a ‘drain feature’ in the St. Lawrence Market redevelopment,” John Tory announced, never mind the actual cost that is up for debate is pegged at $1.64 million.

Toronto is a young city built on land with a rich heritage. Around the time that colonists started arriving the land on which Toronto is now built was home to the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. In 1786 land was purchased by the colonial government from the Mississaugas to establish a new settlement which would eventually be named York.

After the war of 1812 with the Americans, York grew quickly attracting workers and merchants. It grew too quickly though, faster than the infrastructure needed to support residents, and the town earned the nickname “Muddy York.” This lead to the incorporation of Toronto in 1834 and lead to its first democratically elected mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie.

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Concerns About the Rail Deck Park

I love the idea of the Rail Deck Park, a plan to deck over the railway corridor from Blue Jays Way to Bathurst and build a park on it. At 21 acres it would be the largest new park to open in Toronto since Downsview Park in 1999 and a vital infusion of green space in the already under-parked and ever intensifying Downtown Toronto. But when you look into its impact on other parks, how to pay for it, and how the idea originated, the lustre on the Rail Deck Park starts to fade.

The moment of inception for capital projects is usually not hard to trace; a report identifying a need, a milestone reached and the need to make a decision, etc. Not so with Rail Deck. One day it was nothing, the next day John Tory announced it; a fait accompli. But before work started on the park proposal there was the condo proposal.

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Flat Fines Don’t Work, Make Them Variable

A fine, as a means of dissuading anti-social behaviour, is a pretty blunt instrument. It is hamstrung by one overarching factor that renders it useless to a large proportion of the population: marginal ability to pay.

In short, if you are rich the impact of a $150 fine for parking in a bike lane may be minimal, whereas if you are poor it could mean very real sacrifices in order to pay the fine. What is needed is a way to factor the fine by ones ability to pay in order to equally dissuade anti-social behaviour.

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