Just a few more hours until it's officially the weekend, and the weather is supposed to be warm for a few days! Life really is great sometimes. The news, though, is a mixed bag: birds are dying left, right, and centre due to the extreme cold; Black Creek is apparently the worst neighbourhood in Toronto; and provincial funding for transit is rather a mystery.
Toronto’s human residents have certainly felt the colder-than-average winter, but most of us are lucky enough to have made it through to the onset of spring. For many of the city’s birds, that’s not the case; bird deaths in the city are up a staggering 66 per cent. Ducks, swans, and other birds have been dying of starvation all winter, often ending up dead in lakes or, horrifically, frozen in ice. Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, explains what the trouble has been: the birds are “trying to make it through this incredibly difficult winter and they’re finally just done. They’re out of steam, they’re emaciated, they really have no reserves to fight these temperatures or to really fight to find food.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly so to many in the area, Black Creek has been deemed Toronto’s “least livable” neighbourhood. Based on metrics such as the number of residents on social assistance and living in public housing, as well as walkability, mortality, and the prevalence of green spaces, the neighbourhood that contains the intersection of Jane and Finch streets scored 21.38 out of 100; the benchmark below which neighbourhoods are considered “Neighbourhood Improvement Areas” is 42.89. Ethnically diverse neighbourhoods that are home to many recent immigrants are often labelled dangerous and undesirable, and that fate seems to have befallen Black Creek. Residents and community organizers told the Toronto Star that the designation is nothing new, and that “in many ways [the area is] thriving, but there are critical gaps.”
Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised that funding for Toronto transit will not be paid for by provincial tax hikes, but has not yet said where it will come from. That information will be released with the provincial budget. Many critics are skeptical, and seem to think that Wynne’s words were either misleading or a craven attempt to steal NDP supporters. Only the release of the provincial budget—expected at some point in the next few weeks—will tell us for sure.