Toronto – Toronto’s official motto is “Diversity our Strength,” a nod to the fact that Torontonians celebrate diversity like few other places in the world.
Today, during Pride Weekend, Mayoral candidate Mark Saunders, focused on a key component of this diversity – Toronto’s 2SLGBTQ+ community.
To ensure that Toronto’s 2SLGBTQ+ community is inclusive, safe and welcoming for all, Mark Saunders would:
- Establish a new strategic investment and resource fund for the Church and Wellesley BIA to encourage more 2SLGBTQ+ owned and allied businesses to open in the area. The resources would also be used to enhance the area with expanded sidewalks and spaces for CafeTO along with renovated park spaces.
- Work with developers to establish guidelines and rules that ensure, as new development is constructed in the Church/Wellesley and Yonge/Wellesley areas, that new developments include street-level and sub-street level spaces that are designed to accommodate new bars, restaurants and clubs to ensure that the Village remains vibrant
- Just one example of these guidelines would be to ensure ground and sub level spaces have anti-vibration, noise dampening and sound proofing technology integrated into the construction. As part of this plan, Saunders would seek community input with the aim of relaxing city licencing restrictions so that new clubs and bar establishments can open in the Village and build upon its variety and vibrancy, especially in spaces with new sound and vibration infrastructure.
- Ban development on or near Hanlan’s Point and provide financial resources to improve and protect the beach and surrounding areas. Saunders would also work with community leaders to prioritize and enhance safety on the island.
- Expand access to newer models of sexual health clinics including the creation of discreet mobile sexual health clinics to support underserviced areas in Toronto, especially those with higher concentrations of new Canadian and at-risk communities.
- Advocate in partnership with the 2SLGBTQ+ community to combat HIV/AIDS by calling upon the federal and provincial governments to expand full public access to Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) and to provide universal coverage, regardless of income for antiretroviral medications (ARV) for this living with the virus.
- Provide ongoing and increased support for PRIDE along with a renewed effort to address past issues and build trust.
- Double the City's core funding support for the 519 from $1.86M per year to $3.728M by 2026. The 519 Community Centre has a legacy of leadership in Toronto's 2SLGBTQ+ community. For decades it has been on the vanguard of helping a community who has had fight for their rights. To help the 519 grow and evolve its important programming, from counselling services, to queer parenting resources, to coming out groups, to trans programming, and supporting Toronto's growing 2SLGBTQ+ senior community, over three years.
- Support and fund a grand bid for World Pride 2028.
“There is another generation behind us and so we have to keep moving forward to make our footprints bigger in a positive way,” said Saunders.
Earlier in the campaign, James Milonas, (James in the City), asked Mark if he would sit down in a longer form interview to discuss the Bruce McArthur investigation: https://youtu.be/wbEBOM12vyY