In the 10 months since the first positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Toronto, almost every facet of life has changed – from how we shop, eat, socialize, and work, to how we experience our city. During these times of immense and unprecedented change, we are challenged to find new ways to continue supporting our local businesses and stay connected to our communities.
In my June column, I wrote about the ‘Shop Local, Eat Local’ initiative my team launched this spring to help promote small businesses in Don Valley West. With the support of our Ward 15 BIAs – including Bayview-Leaside – we’ve promoted supporting local shops and restaurants through these uncertain times.
In recent months, the City of Toronto introduced several new programs encouraging Torontonians to experience all that our local neighbourhoods have to offer. This fall, the City launched ShowLoveTO, an initiative that encourages us to show love to our city by safely connecting with neighbours from a distance, supporting Main Street businesses and local artists, and exploring our neighbourhoods.
The programs and events included in ShowLoveTO are:
• ActiveTO – quiet streets, major road closures near popular parks and trails to facilitate active transportation, and significant cycling network expansion;
• BigArtTO – a city-wide public art celebration featuring free access to over 200 hours of temporary public artworks projected onto local buildings and landmarks;
• CafeTO – additional outdoor dining areas to help restaurants and bars maintain physical distancing among patrons and extending patio season through the use of portable heaters;
• DineOutTO – showcasing the wide array of businesses that make up Toronto’s diverse culinary scene;
• HistoricTO – starting conversations about the city’s past and imagining a new future; and
• StrollTO – encouraging Torontonians to “play tourist” in their city and discover unexplored shops, stops, places, and spaces on Toronto’s main streets.
Locally, a BigArtTO installation will be running at our very own Leaside Memorial Gardens from November 11 to 14 – it will play on a 10-minute loop from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The installation, which was created by Toronto artists, will remain a surprise until it is unveiled.
You can also check out the Ward 15 StrollTO exploration guide to uncover local hidden gems and explore historic buildings, green spaces, and attractions. To learn more, please visit www.toronto.ca/strollTO.
As COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community, I would like to remind everyone to adhere to the most current Public Health advice. You can learn more about the City’s response to COVID-19 by visiting www.toronto.ca/covid-19.