By Gary Crawford

I hope you've all been keeping well over the past month. On a few occasions, it seemed we weren't quite over the winter weather, but I think it's fair to say that summer is now on its way. This change in weather appropriately coincides with some changes to how we will be able to conduct our daily lives amid the ongoing pandemic.

As you are likely aware, all levels of government have been working in collaboration to begin the recovery process. This course of action has been taken based upon the advice of our respective senior medical professionals, as we have observed some relative signs of improvement in the overall COVID-19 situation. Through these initial steps, we will see incremental efforts to return to a state of normality.

In order for these efforts to be a success, we must continue to abide by the most up-to-date health guidelines. Please continue to take precautions such as social distancing and wearing face masks, until we are advised to do otherwise. Although we have seen some signs of improvement, we need to continue to be cognizant of our actions. For every step forward, we also run the risk of falling back to where we started.

As of this writing, the province has initiated the first phase of its recovery plan, which entails the re-opening of select workplaces and businesses, allowing essential gatherings of a limited number of people, opening some outdoor spaces and continued protections for vulnerable populations. This plan will be gradually implemented over the course of 3 phases.

As it pertains to the City, this first phase has allowed for a number of changes to municipal services. One such example applies to the Toronto Public Library. I believe that the Toronto Public Library is an invaluable resource to our great city and it is apparent that many of you share this sentiment, based on the numerous communications my office has received. As such, I am happy to report that libraries have been approved to reopen in a limited capacity.The City's chief librarian has been tasked with looking into the feasibility of reopening libraries to provide curb side pick-up. Please be sure to keep an eye on both the City's website and Toronto Public Library's website for further information on the implementation of this program.

Another new development is the reopening of waste transfer stations. As of May 19th, some waste transfer stations will be reopening for weeknight access. Please visit the following link for information on locations and hours:

Like most other workplaces, my office has had to adjust our operations in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, and one area of adjustment has been the way in which we engage with residents. It has always been a priority of mine to engage directly with residents, in order to understand their needs on a more personal level. However, social distancing measures have impacted the means through which we would typically be able to interact with one another.

Despite this, I have conducted a number of town halls and roundtables over the course of the quarantine period to keep channels of dialogue open and will continue to lead such discussions in the coming weeks. I have also been happy to facilitate the delivery of face masks to a number of residents and organizations in Ward 20. An item as simple as a face mask can make a world of difference when running errands or conducting other daily tasks. I've also had the fortunate opportunity of chatting with many constituents by telephone. It has been a pleasure speaking about a wide range of topics, whether we've spoken with regard to City issues or simply took a few minutes to catch up. Even though we are apart, there is no reason we shouldn't be able to lean on each other – at least in the figurative sense!

By now, I'm sure you've been inundated with COVID-19 related information from all directions, given how this virus has impacted every facet of our lives. In these moments of frustration, we must not forget that this virus is still a threat and has irrevocably impacted the lives of people, not just across our city, but the entire world. In order to continue on a path of recovery, we must continue our efforts to curb the virus' spread.

As always, please feel free to reach out to my office if you have any comments or suggestions on how I can best serve your needs.