TCHC - Toronto Community Housing Corporation
BIFAC - Business Investment Finance and Audit Committee
The following is a brief summary of my deputations to TCHC's BIFAC meeting on November 20th, 2019. The day after that meeting I felt compelled to address a lack of insight from both Sue Ann Levy and Catherine Wilkinson based on a Toronto Sun article that appeared the day of the meeting.
Did Catherine Wilkinson make any deputations yesterday to BIFAC?
I may have missed them as I needed sleep after I spent Tuesday night writing up five!
These are the topics I sent written deputations by six am.
1) A fire safety plan/program that involves tenant fire safety ambassadors that could be trained in fire prevention/safety and WHMIS that could do a monthly building tour with their super to identify problem areas. I also noted the possibility of creating an award system similar to AA/NA chips for buildings that go without any false alarms or fires for a specific period of time.
2) The possibility of an external audit process to monitor contractors. Currently all audit functions at TCHC are internal. I have reason to believe that some TCHC contractors on the vendors list are doing poor quality work simply to make more work for themselves in the future. (I even sidelined Sheila Penny at one the Restructuring Consultations hoping she'd be willing to open up the last ten years worth of Procurement Awards. Everyone knows that if you really want to know if an organization is making healthy financial decisions you have to [actually] follow the money.)
3) Everyone is familiar with not only the air conditioners falling out of windows (kudos to Catherine) but what about the potential danger identified in the news lately about lead contaminated tap water throughout Toronto schools and daycares. Well there was a mention on one of the reports about water mains. So I decided to follow up to question if TCHC tests our tap water on a regular basis and if so should they not post the results in our buildings or issue alternative water advisories for all tenants?
4) One report presented to BIFAC mentioned "Aligning with RGI changes announced by the province." I asked when would tenants be notified of these "changes" to how our rent will be calculated?
5) Then there was a contract amendment request. I don't know about you but I would dearly love to see an itemized list of the difference between the $12M Information Technology System (Basic) - (original quote) versus the over four and a half times the original amount approved $55M ITS (Premium Edition) - (final amount approved). I even asked about the assurance that this new tech won't be outdated in a day, month, or year. As well as the learning curve for the staff.
As far as I am concerned Catherine and Sue Ann went for the easy out on this new article. Especially given that Catherine used to sit on the board. As someone who has served such a lengthy time on the board I would have expected more insight. My bad. It's okay. If they want to keep taking the easy stuff. I'll deal with the more complex.
JUNO Award winners The East Pointers stopped by Lee's Palace in Toronto to promote their third album, Yours To Break. Foot stomping, knee slapping and hand clapping are all acceptable forms of movement as they perform. I believe even hootin' and hollerin' are desirable reactions. But, if you find yourself standing there, unmoved, may I suggest you ask the person next to you to check you for a pulse.
Otherwise, the lead single on The East Pointers latest album is about offering a light to those that need one. Some people experience very dark times. Koady Chaisson (banjo/tenor guitar/moog) was diagnosed with bipolar disorder five years ago. He had experienced many extreme highs and extreme lows. Wintergreen was actually a song he wished he had of heard back then. It represents "a vote of confidence from the perspective of someone who loves you regardless of which end of that spectrum you’re at."
Multiple JUNO, CCMA and CMA award-winning singer/songwriter Gord Bamford will be hitting the road across Canada in 2020 with his #REDNEK Music Fest tour that will showcase a broad range of homegrown country music artists including the hottest emerging acts in Canada. Along with Bamford, the show stars multi-platinum, JUNO Award winner Jess Moskaluke, and an incredible line-up of rising talent including Andrew Hyatt, Cory Marks, Duane Steele, Eric Ethridge, Ghost Boy and JoJo Mason.
The #REDNEK Music Fest tour is set to kick off on Feb. 21 at the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, B.C. The first round of dates will cover western Canada into the spring, with an eastern Canadian round of shows expected to be announced soon. Tickets go on sale starting Friday, November 15th’ and additional information will be posted at gordbamford.com.
Canada's Walk Of Fame RBC Emerging Artists Showcase happened Thursday, November 7th at the Great Hall. This was the 7th year for this FREE event. Five talented artists were selected from among 1600 hopefuls from coast to coast.
BAYLA received this years top honours with a Grand Prize which consist, in part, of twenty thousand dollars, several performance opportunities, and a few intros to established industry peeps.
Click here for video taken at the Canada's Walk of Fame RBC Emerging Artist Showcase.
All proceeds support International Justice Mission Canada
in its quest to eliminate human trafficking and slavery
Thursday, November 7, 2019 – 5:30 p.m.
The Grand Salon, 20 Toronto St., Toronto
On Thursday, November 7, 2019 , Nourish Hope will host a special fundraising event in Toronto for International Justice Mission Canada (IJM), a non-profit organization whose goal is to end human trafficking and slavery in our lifetime.
This special evening will feature a reception and dinner program featuring keynote speaker Anu George Canjanathoppil, Executive Director of IJM Canada. The evening will also feature a powerful Oculus Virtual Reality exhibit that will allow guests the opportunity to witness and understand the process involved in an IJM human trafficking rescue.
Nourish Hope 2019 will take place at The Grand Salon, 20 Toronto Street, Toronto ; the evening, hosted by TV personalities Pauline Chan and Karen Johnson, will begin with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by a dinner program from 6:00-9:00 p.m. with some very special guests.
The event is sold out but you can still DONATE to a worthy cause.
Australian singer-songwriter Kim Churchill performed for an appreciative audience at the Mod Club on Saturday November 2nd, 2019. This was an opportunity for him to showcase some of the new material released on his EP Forgetting on October 25 via all digital retailers.
Written, recorded and produced by Colin Stewart (Yukon Blonde / Dan Mangan) entirely in Canada, Forgetting is the second in a 4-part series, where each EP was written and recorded in a different country.
Kim Churchill's latest video may be for Caught Up In A Landslide but if anything he doesn't appear to get caught up in anything. This complete lack of pretense carries over to his music. He is as laid back as a barefoot walk on the beach at sunset. His music is like the tide whispering to the sand.
I'm not afraid to admit that I purchased all of my skeleton crew at Dollarama. Plus, they have their own space where they will hang out year round.
The basis of the Rubin Thomlinson investigation into human resources practices at Toronto Community Housing Corporation was based on previously lodged complaints. By no means was this an exhaustive examination of current hiring or firing practices at TCHC with the capability of identifying systemic issues.
TCHC CEO Kevin Marshman stated in a News Release regarding the Rubin-Thomlinson report summary that "We addressed many of the concerns raised in this report by introducing a Workplace Harassment Program and a new Procedure for Staff Complaints in 2018."
This may come as a surprise to many - including TCHC itself - but as a "Corporation" operating under the City of Toronto's umbrella they are subject to the City of Toronto's Human Rights and Anti-Harassment Policy. "Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, every person has a right to equal treatment by the City of Toronto, its agencies [& corporations], boards and commission and its citizen advisory committees, with respect to services and facilities, accommodation, contracts and employment."
It's even more surprising that there is evidence of (and TCHC admits) that they "blocked COTAPSA emails from its servers [since 2013] and refused to allow COTAPSA representatives to represent employees [since 2002] in grievance matters."
Who is COTAPSA?
COTAPSA is City of Toronto Administrative, Professional, Supervisory Association
According to a footnote at the bottom of page 22 of the Rubin Thomlinson report summary "COTAPSA is a voluntary organization that represents the interests of non-unionized employees who work for the City of Toronto and specifically assists members by advising, advocating or acting on their behalf with respect to employment-related issues with their employers, such as terminations, human rights complaints, lost wages, and discipline,"
As a City of Toronto corporation TCHC should be advocating in the best interest of their employees. That would include allowing them to communicate with and receive support from COTAPSA.
Otherwise, it really shouldn't come as any great surprise that staff at Toronto Community Housing have "expressed a profound lack of faith and lack of trust" in their human resources department. According to an article in the Globe and Mail Jennifer Bond the Director of Labour Relations didn't even have a formal interview let alone meet the previously outlined qualifications for the job posting.
In the meantime, I can only hope that the report back to the TCHC Board of Directors in Q1 (the first quarter of) 2020 will occur during the public session of the board meeting. I certainly can't wait to see how they fared in addressing the complete list of Rubin-Thomlinson recommendations. At this point, I'd be satisfied with just seeing the complete list.
On Saturday October 19th, 2019 there was a mural unveiling at 3847 Lawrence Ave E. The TCHC building is 13 stories tall. (Units on the 13th floor would be listed as 1401, 1402, 1403 ... because of superstitions about the number 13.)
With the mural starting at the top of the second floor that makes this mural eleven stories tall. Not the 14 stories everyone kept stating during the press conference. So if 11 stories was the record for the tallest mural in Scarborough kudos to the creators.
Maybe its just me but I found it difficult to see as the sun was beating down heavily on the other side of the building. That radiatin glare got me thinking about what it must look like at night. My reaction was pretty immediate. Before the official event even started I had spoken to several TCHC staff, city officials, and the artists about adding flood lights from the top corners so people could see it.
There is no sense putting art on the wall if you're not going to have it properly lit. Any gallery owner or museum curator would tell you that much. By the end of the press conference I was assured that funding for flood lighting would be provided.
That's not the only issue I had while I was on site. There was the fact that if you look up at the balconies of the "14 story" building it was pretty clear they could have used a scraping and a fresh coat of paint.
Then I got to wondering about how long the brick façade would hold. Many TCHC buildings (mine included) are getting cladding because the bricks have a tendency to come loose. I even contemplated whether or not the artist sprayed a clear acrylic over the entire piece to weatherproof it. Leading to the conclusion that the artwork liking won't last as long as it took for the process from initial concept, through funding applications and community consultations, to the official unveiling.
I really didn't mean for this article to have such a negative spin. All the VIP's sounded so positive at the press conference. Not that the mainstream media would know, They never even showed up. I thought for sure that if Mayor John Tory attended an event I'd have more competition jockeying for sightlines for both my stills and my video. That's not the case. It seems that any event cloaked in the armour of a good news TCHC story doesn't interest the "press". They are just after the bad news … Like flies to shit.
Click here for full video coverage of the 3847 Lawrence Ave E mural unveiling press conference. Speakers included Mayor John Tory, Councillor Ainslie, TCHC Board Member Linda Johnson, and the lead artist Amir Akbari.