Government of Ontario

Chris Glover

MPP, Spadina–Fort York

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Latest Update

Published on March 28, 2024

Dear Neighbours,

Happy Easter!

This is our first update since the official beginning of spring on March 19th. Spring is a time of renewal and with Earth Day coming on April 22nd, each year thousands of people organize cleanups through the City’s Clean Toronto Together program. If you’re organizing a cleanup in the riding, please email my office and I will do my best to participate.

Also join me for my Earth Day Summit. This year, our focus is on greening our condo buildings through heat pumps, solar energy, capturing rainwater, and better waste management. A hybrid event, you can attend in person on Thursday, April 18, 7:00 pm at the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre. See more below.

We continue to fight to save Ontario Place. This week, Freedom of Information requests revealed that the government is planning to pave over part of Lake Ontario in Phase 2 of its redevelopment plan.

Also, kudos to Ontario Place for All. In December, the government passed Bill 154, which attempted to give the government the power to break Ontario’s environmental and heritage laws, and exempts government ministers and government agents from being held accountable in our courts for acts of misfeasance, breach of trust, or acting in bad faith. OP4All has taken the government to court and this week received a decision that Bill 154 must be reviewed by a panel of three judges.

A couple of weeks ago, I learned about an eagle’s nest in Toronto. Bald eagles have been on Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and have never before nested in Toronto. You can read the Star article here. In this update, we feature another article by Adam Bunch on the history of bald eagles in Toronto. See below.

The Ontario government announced its budget this week. Education and Health are the two most important services delivered by the provincial government, representing $37.8 billion and $85 billion respectively of the total $214 billion budget. But our schools have faced a $1200/per student inflationary cut over the past 5 years, and our schools are facing another round of cuts next year because of the estimated shortfall. Our public colleges and universities have been facing annual funding cuts under this and the previous government, and this year there is an additional $426 million cut.

Homelessness has reached epidemic levels across the province, but there is no plan to bring an end to homelessness. Housing is unaffordable for an increasing percentage of the population, but this government has only built 1,187 affordable homes over the past 6 years.

We are pushing for greater investments in education, health and housing, not only because they are good for students, patients and residents, but because they are the foundation on which a healthy economy is built.

Speaking with striking workers at the Art Gallery of Ontario who are standing up for decent wages and better working conditions.

On Monday, April 8, a total solar eclipse is set to pass through parts of Canada, including Burlington, Hamilton and Niagara Falls. Toronto is not in the path of totality and will only experience a partial eclipse between 2:04 and 4:31 pm, with the peak happening at 3:19 pm.

There is a lot of hype around this event, and justly so. Total solar eclipses occur when the moon moves between the sun and the Earth. The path of that shadow is extremely narrow, which is why most people have likely never seen one. The average for any one spot on Earth to see a total eclipse is about once every 375 years. If you’re planning to watch the eclipse, it’s important to plan ahead and take precautions as staring at the sun can cause permanent eye damage. More details available here.

A total solar eclipse will happen on April 8

Join me for the annual CityPlace Easter Scramble this Sunday at Canoe Landing Park! Check our more Fun Things to Do!

Take care,

Latest News

Earth Day Summit Apr 18

Please join me for this year’s in-person Earth Day Summit on Thursday, April 18, 7:00 pm at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre. Register here.

My special guests include:

  • Katrusia Balan, City of Toronto Waste Management
  • Sarah Buchanan, Toronto Environmental Alliance
  • Keith Burrows, The Atmospheric Fund
  • Nic Morgan, Morgan Solar


  • Toronto Fire Services on EV Battery Safety
  • Inwit Sustainable Corporate Catering
  • And More!

Ontario Budget Highlights

The Ontario government presented its 2024 Ontario Budget: Building a Better Ontario on Tuesday. The $214.5-billion budget shows a $3 billion deficit in 2023, with a projected $9 billion deficit next year. Below are some of the key highlights.

Budget Numbers:

Total spending: $214.5 billion, up from $204.7 last year

Total deficit: $9.8 billion (2024-25), $3 billion (2023-24) 

Contingency fund: $1.5 billion 

Budget Cuts:

  • $425 million less in base funding for Colleges and Universities 
  • $1 billion less on Health
  • $116 million less for Post-Secondary Education

While there is a small increase to base funding for health care, when you compare 2023-24 interim actual totals to this year's budget, the government plans to spend $1 billion less on health. This is due to compensation settlements reported in the 2023-24 budget year.

Some of the government’s new commitments include:

  • $200 million to a Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund
  • $46 million for GTA community safety, including 4 police helicopters


  • $396 million over 3 years as part of its mental health and addictions strategy
  • $2 billion over 3 years to the home and community care sector

What’s Missing:

  • Comparing 2023 interim actuals with the plan in this budget, the government plans to spend $1 billion less on health care at a time when we’re seeing longer hospital wait times, ER closures, and a family doctor crisis
  • Significant increases to Northern travel grants 
  • Funding for supervised consumption sites 
  • Paid sick days


  • GAINS eligibility threshold to increase from $1992 to $4176 for singles and $3984 to $8352 for couples
  • $152 million over three years for supportive housing
  • $155 million to fast-track construction of long-term care homes by Nov 30, 2024
  • $2 billion in home and community care sector

What’s Missing: 

  • Funding for staffing to meet minimum 4 hours of care required in long-term care homes  
  • No dedicated capital funding for non-profit and municipal homes, despite these homes having better outcomes for residents


  • 2.7% increase to education, however, the numbers reported also include childcare
  • $1.4 billion for repairs and renewals for the current school year
  • $23 billion to building modern schools and childcare spaces over 10 years
  • $128 million over 3 years to boost nursing student enrolment at universities and colleges
  • New medical school at York University focused on training family doctors

What’s Missing:

  • The 2.7% increase is lower than inflation and does not account for rising enrolment
  • No mention of teachers, educational assistants, student mental health care, or school transportation
  • No concrete number for school repairs for 2024-25
  • Concrete numbers on creating new childcare spaces to achieve $10/day childcare
  • Post-secondary education funding is only 0.1% higher than last year’s budget and will not resolve the dire finances of Ontario’s universities and colleges


  • $2 billion for “housing enabling” infrastructure projects
  • Municipalities to create a new lower property-tax class for purpose-built rentals
  • Municipalities allowed to levy a higher tax on vacant homes owned by non-residents

What’s Missing:

  • No major expansion in funding and other support for affordable and non-market housing


  • $120 million for the Ontario Autism Program, double the amount from last year
  • Anticipated increase in costs of ODSP ($63 million) and OW ($30 million)

What’s Missing: 

  • No new increases to social assistance rates   
  • No mention of Children’s Aid or foster care
  • No specific or detailed reference to developmental services


  • $200 million to a Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund
  • $1 billion over 3 years to Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program

What’s Missing:

  • No permanent funding for municipal transit operations 
  • No cost estimates for Highway 413 or Bradford Bypass 
  • No plan to eliminate Highway 407 tolls for truckers


  • Extension to reduced gas tax rates by an additional 6 months to December 31, 2024
  • Call to the federal government to scrap the carbon tax

What’s Missing:

  • There is nothing in this budget to credibly address climate change and to prepare Ontario for more extreme weather and a low-carbon future
  • No funding to help people make their homes more energy efficient, transition to heat pumps
  • No plan for the revenues from Ontario’s carbon pricing system on industrial emitters


What I was looking for in the budget

  • Investing in Ontario’s publicly-funded and publicly-delivered healthcare system and immediate support for community mental health programs, long-term care, and home care 
  • Removing tolls for trucks on Highway 407 to reduce congestion on the 401  
  • Strategic investments to recruit and retain healthcare workers  
  • Building at least 250,000 new affordable and non-market homes over 10 years, to be operated and/or constructed by public, non-profit or co-op housing providers
  • Taking on climate change and save people money with support for home energy retrofits and energy-efficient heat pumps
  • Addressing staffing shortages in public schools and reversing cuts to get kids the supports they need
  • Keeping our colleges and universities open with stable funding and increased operating grants 
  • Lifting people out of legislated poverty by doubling ODSP and OW rates 
  • Helping families get the childcare they need by funding the long-delayed $10-a-day childcare

Ontario Stands to Lose $357 M in Federal Housing Funding

Ontario is at risk of losing $357 million in funding for affordable housing by the end of this week because the province has failed to deliver affordable housing federal targets under the National Housing Strategy (NHS) Action Plan. Ontario was expected to have added just over 1,100 affordable units since 2018. That’s less than 6% of the province’s housing target under the NHS. 

Ontario’s record on affordable housing has been an absolute embarrassment. Instead of building the affordable housing we need, this government has wasted years focused on carving up the Greenbelt. Now, the province stands to lose hundreds of millions in badly needed funding.

My colleague and Official Opposition Housing Critic, Jessica Bell, said: “The government can play the blame game all they want, but the truth stands. They are lagging so far behind in achieving the targets in Ontario to make sure people don’t suffer as a result.”

Ontario Place Phase 2 Shows Filling in of Lake Ontario

The illustration above of Phase 2 shows part of Lake Ontario is paved over

Through documents obtained from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, we have learned about Phase 2 of the Ontario Place redevelopment plan which suggests the filling in of a section of Lake Ontario at the east island to make it a part of the mainland. This has never been previously disclosed to the public.

The latest FOI documents are more evidence that the government has been hiding their real plans for Ontario Place from the beginning. When asked to release their plan, Minister Kinga Surma recited talking points, citing a “competitive process”. Listen to my question here.

With this secret plan to fill in the lake, it’s no wonder the government exempted the redevelopment of Ontario Place from environmental laws. A taxpayer subsidy, parkland giveaway, and now environmental devastation – there’s more than enough reasons to stop this project.

We will be putting forward a motion this week at the Standing Committee for Government Agencies to review Ontario Place.

Ward Island Fire Destroys Clubhouse


Last Saturday, a devastating fire ripped through the Ward Island Clubhouse on the Toronto Islands. The white wooden clapboard structure was built by islanders in 1937/38 and for generations has been the gathering place for the Island community and a welcome stop for visitors to the Island. It also housed the Island Cafe, a favourite stop for a delicious meal and good company on the lawn near the ferry dock.

My personal favourite memory of the clubhouse was the screen door. There’s something about the sound of a slamming screen door that says summer and it’s not a sound you expect to hear in the city. Many irreplaceable archives were lost, including a handwritten list of the islanders who served in WWII and photos of the community dating back to the 1930s.

On March 19, I attended a community vigil to mourn the loss of the beloved clubhouse. They sang, tied ribbons on the protective fencing, held lanterns from Shadowland Theatre, and encircled the ashes of the building to say goodbye.

Already talk is of rebuilding. The Island community has weathered many storms, floods, eviction attempts, even a fire that destroyed the Algonquin Island Clubhouse a few decades ago. 

While people are gathering the memories of the old clubhouse they are beginning to think and talk about rebuilding. About creating a new gathering place for generations of islanders and visitors to meet, dance, organize, mourn and celebrate. As one islander said, the spirit of this building will live on in a new form.

TDSB Continuing Education Programs at Risk

The Toronto District School Board is facing a $20.8-million deficit for the next school year and is considering changes to continuing education, including the elimination of the Learn4Life general interest program, as well as seniors' daytime community programs.

As a former TDSB trustee, I know all too well about chronic provincial underfunding and the harsh cuts that struggling school boards face. The 2024 Ontario Budget has allocated a mere 2.7% increase in funding to education which is lower than inflation and does not account for rising enrolment. This is simply not good enough. I will continue to advocate at Queen’s Park for adequate funding for education.

Spadina-Fort York’s Trustee Alexis Dawson has been advocating for a fair budget for our schools. Please share your story or join the Fund our Schools Rally on April 2, 4-6 pm at 5050 Yonge St.

Gardiner Lane Closures Begin Mar 25

Beginning March 25, lane closures on the Gardiner Expressway will be implemented between Dufferin and Strachan for pre-construction work. The work will occur in stages, impacting one lane in each direction at a time, starting with the eastbound lanes.  

During the eastbound lane closure, the eastbound on-ramp from Lakeshore Blvd, east of Jameson, will also be closed to facilitate this work. Intermittent additional nightly lane reductions will also occur.   

There are no lane restrictions planned over the March long weekend (Friday, March 29 to Sunday, March 31) or Saturday, April 6 to Monday, April 8. 

Starting in mid-April, the Gardiner will be reduced to two lanes in each direction between Dufferin Street and Strachan Avenue, with intermittent additional nighty lane reductions as necessary. More details are available on the City’s website here.

New Food Bank at Waterfront Community Centre

On Wednesday March 13, Spadina-Fort York Community Care opened a fourth food bank location at Waterfront Neighborhood Centre. The food bank will take place on Wednesdays from 2-4 pm at 627 Queens Quay West in the Medium Assembly room. Thank you to Shauna Harris and to everyone  who helps to feed the community every day!

Nominate Someone for the Order of Ontario

The Order of Ontario is the province’s highest civilian honour. Each year, a select group of individuals are appointed to the Order. They represent the best of our province. If this sounds like someone you know, we encourage you to nominate someone in your community who you feel merits this important honour. The deadline for 2024 nominations is March 31, 2024. Details here or email [email protected].

Microgrants for Green Initiatives

Toronto-based community groups, organizations and small grassroots initiatives can now apply to receive up to $1,500 alongside training and support to organize one environmentally focused event in their local park, green space or ravines before November 2024. Details here. If you have questions about the grants, email [email protected].

InTO The Ravines Microgrants

  • Groups interested in or already working within their local ravines and with communities facing barriers to accessing ravine spaces are welcome to apply. Apply here. Deadline: April 22, 2024.

Sparking Change Microgrants

  • Community groups and non-profits, including park friends groups, neighbourhood associations, artists and other collectives are welcome to apply. Park People will be prioritizing applications from equity-deserving communities. Apply here. Deadline: April 22, 2024.

Getting Started Microgrants

  • Available for groups newer to hosting community events in green spaces or wishing to host a smaller-scale event. The application process is simplified for these Getting Started microgrants and is conducted through phone or video calls. Apply here. Deadline: April 19, 2024.

Arts at the Market Accepting Applications

Are you an artist, craftsperson, or designer? Do you want to sell your high-quality handmade goods at one of the world’s top markets? Arts at the Market celebrates the unique talents of local artisans who offer high-quality handmade goods for sale at the St. Lawrence Market. These artisans will fill the outdoor spaces of the Market with fresh, new, lively, and creative energy from April through October, animating and adding vivacity to the complex.

Apply by April 1st, 2024 for early admission to the 2024 program. Details here.

Cybersecurity Toolkits

March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. The Canadian Bankers Association has provided cybersecurity toolkits that can help identify and avoid fraud and scams, including: 

  • Recognizing phishing scams and suspicious emails or texts
  • Avoiding One-Time Passcode scams
  • Identifying phone scams, including fraudulent calls from supposed government officials or financial institutions
  • Understanding tax season scams and legitimate communications from the Canada Revenue Agency
  • Protecting against ransomware through preventive measures
  • Identifying fake websites and apps designed to steal personal or financial information

All fraud prevention toolkits are accessible in English and French on the CBA’s website:

Outdoor Work Assistance for Seniors

Spring in the air! If you are a senior in need of some assistance with outdoor work like grass cutting, leaf raking, or even light gardening, there are workers to assist. Toronto Intergenerational Partnerships in Community, a non-profit service agency that has been in existence since 1986. For more information visit the website here.


Take a Walk on the Waterfront

By Seniors for Climate Action Now!

When you reach Ontario Place you will see a high construction wall which until recently was covered with artwork by local residents. It was not a commissioned mural. It was the work of people who were coming every Sunday to renew the artwork as a protest against the lack of access to a beloved public resource.

This guerilla protest – the nearly-kilometre-long blackboard – has now been covered up with what some local residents are calling “propaganda”.

You have likely heard about Therme’s plan for a private spa at Ontario Place.

John Lorinc writes about the environmental impact of building a private mega spa at Ontario Place: the clear-cutting of hundreds of mature trees on the West Island, the destruction of a migratory bird sanctuary, the lake contamination caused by the inevitable dumping of huge quantities of chlorinated water, and the large carbon footprint.

Privatization and the environmental impact are bad enough, but adding insult to injury is the plan for parking.

The province would need at least 2,700 parking spaces to support the three tenants underpinning the redevelopment of Ontario Place: Therme, Live Nation and the Ontario Science Centre.

To sum up: this would be a private spa on public land with a 95-year lease. Read more and consider offering support to Ontario Place for All.

The Science Centre

This brings us to the second serious issue: the plan to move the Ontario Science Centre from its current location in Flemingdon Park to Ontario Place.

The Science Centre at Ontario Place would be downsized to one third the size of the current building.  The local community, especially school children, have benefited from its proximity for years.  

What does this have to do with climate?

The Science Centre was built to complement its treed ravine site with a view to last 200 years, not 60.  Like Ontario Place, governments have allowed it to degrade. The current government is planning to dismantle one of the world’s best science museums. According to Save Ontario’s Science Centre,  “renovation of the current building is both more environmentally and socially responsible and considerably cheaper than building the proposed new, smaller facility at Ontario Place.”

Ironically, the new LRT station at Don Mills and Eglinton is already named for the centre. Perhaps it will be renamed Condo East.

SCAN! Toronto is a regional group of Seniors for Climate Action Now!


A Brief History of Bald Eagles in Toronto

By Adam Bunch

A view of Toronto from the Don Valley in 1855 (plus a bald eagle)

It was a September day in 1793. A small boat was making its way up the Don River. The winding waterway snaked along the wide valley floor, dwarfed by the towering slopes above it, surrounded by meadows and thriving forests of butternut, oak and pine. Those woods were filled with deer, wolves and bears, even cougars. Every fall, the river flowed thick with salmon and vast flocks of passenger pigeons darkened the sky on their annual migration.

By then, this land had already been home to First Nations and their ancestors for thousands and thousands of years — the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Mississaugas. The forests had been carefully maintained. Fields planted. Villages built. But the people in that small boat were new arrivals: British settlers who'd come to build a colonial capital on the shores of Lake Ontario. Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe was one of those on board. So was his wife, Elizabeth.

They'd been living here for a little over a month at that point, pitching a fancy tent on the lakeshore next to a creek they called the Garrison. Soldiers had already begun chopping down trees to make way for Fort York and for the new town. On that particular September day, the Simcoes had left the waterfront, rowing up the river to visit a nearby farm; it was run by one of the first settlers to live in the Don Valley, just north of where the Bloor Street Viaduct is today.

“We found the river very shallow in many parts and obstructed by fallen trees,” Elizabeth Simcoe wrote in her diary. “One of them lay so high above the water that the boat passed under, the rowers stooping their heads. It looked picturesque…”

That's when she saw it. It was perched on the barren branches of a blasted pine standing high above them — on a bold point overlooking the valley. A majestic bird was keeping watch over the river: One of the bald eagles of Toronto.

Bald eagles were living here long before our city was founded. The species is thought to have evolved about a million years ago, and they've been soaring through the skies above North America ever since. For many First Nations, the eagles have had powerful spiritual and symbolic meaning for countless centuries. "It's a very sacred bird to us," Duke Redbird, an Ojibway elder, recently explained to the CBC. “It represents so many good things: honour, honesty, charity, life…” The flag of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation has a bald eagle at its very centre.

It's easy to imagine how welcoming the eagles would have found this place in the days before the city was founded. A gigantic lake right next to a land cut through by river valleys and ravines, dotted by wetlands and the sprawling marsh next to Ashbridges Bay. It must have been a perfect home for the continent's only species of sea eagle, a wonderful place to catch fish.

By the time the Simcoes founded our city, Elizabeth had already seen her first bald eagle. They'd spotted it earlier that summer as it flew above Niagara. But here in Toronto, she would see even more. That magnificent bird on the blasted pine was far from the only bald eagle living in the Don Valley.

The Simcoes paid another visit to the Don that autumn. The governor had decided to give his five-year-old son Francis a big chunk of it: 200 acres running along the western slope south of where Bloor Street is now. And since settlers were legally required to build a house on their property within a year, they'd come to pick an appropriate spot for it.

When they'd visited that September, the governor had admired the place where the bald eagle was perched; he mentioned he would like to build a summer home on that point someday. So, they might have headed right back to that same spot — it was nearby, at the very least. They climbed up the steep slope until they reached the highest point they could find. From there, they looked out over the autumnal valley, high above the tops of the trees growing below.

There were eagles there that day, too. Elizabeth Simcoe wrote about them in her diary. She saw more than one in the area, enough that she assumed the birds must be nesting nearby. And it was there that the family chose to build their cabin, surrounded by the ancient pine forest, a spot sitting right on the edge of the valley, with a spectacular view of the eagles' domain.

The log cabin was a surprisingly grand edifice, built in the style of a Grecian temple. The porch was lined with four enormous columns of white pine. The odd building was both rustic and majestic, while being legally owned by a toddler. So, the Simcoes decided to give it a tongue-in-cheek name, a reference to its ambitious design and young owner: they called it Castle Frank. Today, the name lives on in a subway station, as well as nearby roads and a brook — reminders not just of the log cabin, but of the days when bald eagles patrolled the skies above it.

Francis Simcoe wouldn’t get to grow up in his castle. The family didn't stay in Toronto for long. They only spent a few years in Upper Canada before heading home to England. But the town they left behind grew quickly after their departure. It began the 1800s as the muddy little town of York, home to only a few hundred people. By the end of the century, it was the booming Victorian metropolis of Toronto, home to 200,000.

That rapid growth had a devastating impact on wildlife. Forests came crashing to the ground. Coalsmoke choked the air. Creeks were buried and turned into sewers. Even much of the Don Valley was transformed into an industrial landscape, the final stretch of the river straightened as factories rose on its banks. Many species that had called the forests of Toronto home for millenia were driven out of the area entirely. Before long, there were no more bears roaming the valley floor. No wolves were left to steal livestock. The passenger pigeons that had once darkened the skies by the millions had been driven to extinction; the last of the species died in 1914.

Bald eagles suffered, too. They weren't just driven out by habitat loss, but actively targeted by settlers as a hated enemy.

Throughout much of our city's history, birds of prey were reviled. Eagles, hawks and owls alike were denounced as a threat to farmers' chickens, geese and lambs, or competition for hunting game. One bald eagle in southern Ontario was even accused of trying to fly off with a small child. They were labelled as annoying pests. Vermin. And so, while Elizabeth Simcoe had written of the eagles' picturesque beauty, the reports that followed over the course of the 1800s were far more often about local hunters shooting them down out of our skies.

So far, the earliest written record I've found of a bald eagle being killed in Toronto comes from the spring of 1842 — though I'm sure it was a common occurrence among the city’s settlers long before that. It appears as a line in the memoirs of John Howard, the architect whose country estate became High Park. "Shot a bald eagle," he writes, "which measured seven feet between the wings. Sent it to England." He would be far from the last Ontario hunter to bring one of the great birds down. Over the years, The Globe occasionally reported a successful hunt in its pages, listing the dimensions of birds that had been killed.

The number of bald eagles in Toronto was falling fast. They seem to have been a relatively common sight in our city until at least the 1880s. But by the early 1900s, sightings had grown rare. The best bet for seeing a bald eagle in Toronto seems to have been those on display at the Riverdale Zoo. A few of the birds were kept in cages there over the years, not far from the spot where the Simcoes had seen the eagles’ ancestors flying free just over a century earlier.

At that point, you had to be lucky to see a wild bald eagle in Toronto. When one of them was spotted soaring above Ashbridges Marsh (where the Port Lands are today) in the winter of 1912, it made the newspaper. A poetic article was published in The Globe describing a scene that hearkened back to the city's founding days, even as the chaos of the modern metropolis roared away in the distance:

“The splendid sweep of his dark wings was an imposing sight as he passed eastward over the frozen marsh, displaying in the grey light the contrasts of his white head and white, expanded tail… Two days later, he returned [with] a sudden attack on a small flock of bluebills swimming about in the open water of the eastern gap. That white, extended neck and yellow beak seemed to assume a rapacious expression as with swift, accelerating strokes he bore down on the tempting loiterers.”

That day, the ducks were lucky. “The flock took wing as by a single impulse, and passed in swiftly fluttering alignment over the ice toward the western gap. The frustrated assassin accepted his failure with lordly complacency, and scarcely looked after the fast-disappearing bluebills. He continued northward, quite low and leisurely, across the bay, and disappeared into the concealing vapors of the city.”

By then, public opinion was beginning to turn. While many Torontonians still wanted the birds dead, others began to lobby on their behalf. Newspaper articles began to appear in defence of the city's aerial hunters. Scientists and bird lovers argued that birds of prey were vital allies in the fight against rats and other urban pests. Myths about bald eagles attacking adult humans were challenged and debunked. One Ontario farmer wrote to The Globe, “Eagles are friendly, useful birds, and not the enemy of the farmer or of game.” Another agreed: “The pleasure I get seeing them sail through the air is one that I would not willingly forgo.” As the number of bald eagles in the province continued to plummet, people began actively worrying that the species was in danger of extinction. Provincial legislation was introduced to protect them along with other birds.

It almost didn't work. Even with a ban on hunting, the number of bald eagles continued to decline. In the decades to come, the deadly insecticide DDT opened an accidental new front in the war against the birds. It made some of them sterile; others were unable to lay healthy eggs. Eggshells were weakened, leaving them brittle and prone to cracking. Barely any chicks were being hatched at all. The population was wasting away. By the 1970s, the species had reached the brink of extinction. Only a few hundred nesting pairs were left in the world. In southern Ontario, there may have been as few as three.

That's when things finally began to improve. The Canadian and American governments both banned DDT, which allowed the bald eagles to begin their recovery. In the decades since, their numbers have been rebounding. In recent years, they've even occasionally been spotted in Toronto: at High Park, along the Humber, on the waterfront… In 2013, a nest of eaglets hatched nearby at Cootes Paradise in Hamilton; they were the first bald eagles born on the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario in more than half a century.

And now, this spring, a nesting pair has been spotted within Toronto itself.

It has been hailed as the first bald eagle nest in the recorded history of our city — though the reports from Elizabeth Simcoe and John Howard (who shot his bird at the height of the breeding season) suggest they were likely nesting here in the 1800s and earlier, too. But it is, at the very least, the first bald eagle nest Toronto has seen in generations — an incredibly precious discovery. And an incredibly delicate situation, too. Bald eagles are nervous birds, prone to abandoning their nests if there's too much commotion around them. Authorities have asked people to stay away. The press has agreed not to share the location. But if all goes well, then this spring our city will be home to some newly-hatched eaglets — a landmark in the local history of one of the continent's most spectacular species.

More than two hundred years after Elizabeth Simcoe wrote about the bald eagles of the Don Valley in her diary, they are soaring through the skies above Toronto once again.

The good news about the return of the nesting bald eagles comes at a time when other rare Toronto birds are facing a precarious future. The proposed construction of that giant spa at Ontario Place won’t just destroy precious habitat for some at-risk species, it will also mean that a massive glass wall will rise in the middle of their migration routes. Francesca Bouaoun wrote about some of the issues involved for Spacing back in 2022. You can read that here.

You can learn more about the new eagles’ new nest from the CBC here — which includes the interview with Duke Redbird, as well as Jules McCusker, the person who first spotted it. You can read Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary here. And if you’re interested in the history of the Don Valley, you might also be interested in Jennifer Bonnell’s book, Reclaiming the Don: An Environmental History of Toronto’s Don River Valley.

This article was published in The Toronto History Weekly, March 19, 2024. It has been used with permission from the author.

MPP Scrolls for Special Occasions

Turning 30, 40, 80, 90 or 100? Celebrate a significant birthday with a certificate from my office.

Is there a new addition to your family? Send the name of your baby, the parents’ names and other relevant information and we’ll send a “Welcome to the World” certificate to celebrate this special event.

Chris in the House

Human Trafficking Bill Passes with All-Party Support

Richard Dunwoody and I at an Angel Tree at Billy Bishop Airport – every angel represents a survivor of human trafficking

I am very happy to announce that Bill 41 received Royal Assent in the legislature last week. Thanks to everyone who supported this bill, including Richard Dunwoody who has spent several years helping survivors of human trafficking. This bill provides a legislative framework to prohibit the collection of coerced debts, and prohibits coerced debts from being taken into consideration when determining whether to provide credit services or products to a victim of human trafficking.

Since 2021, the Concord Adex Survivors Fund, an initiative of the Seeds of Hope Foundation, has helped survivors of human trafficking. The fund provides safe, affordable housing and post-secondary education support for survivors helping to rebuild their lives post-exploitation. This holiday season, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport will host three “Angel Trees” decorated with hundreds of angels representing survivors of human trafficking.

Below are some of my recent statements at Queen’s Park:

Ontario Place

  • MPP Bhutila Karpoche and I ask the government to work with Ontarians on the redevelopment of Ontario Place. Watch here.
  • Calling for more transparency on the redevelopment. Watch here.
  • Questioning the Therme timeline. Watch here.

Education Cuts

  • Petition from our local schools regarding staff cuts. Watch here.

Environment and Bill 69

  • Climate Critic MPP Peter Tabuns and I debating Bill 69, Reducing Inefficiencies Act and how development is taking priority over the environment. Watch here.
  • Impacts on Ontario Place and the environment. Watch here.

Health Care Privatization

  • The government’s funding of private, for-profit clinics will only worsen the health care crisis. Watch here.

Arts Funding

  • Culture Critic MPP Jill Andrew and I address the cuts to arts funding in Ontario. Watch here.

International Women’s Day

  • Actions the government can take for pay equity, including repealing Bill 124. Watch here.

Bill 39: Red Tape Reduction and Democracy

  • Is it not possible to build housing while still respecting the outcomes of our recent municipal elections? Watch my question here.

Debate on Bill 26: Misogyny in Post-Secondary Institutions

  • Statistics show that 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual assault on campuses. It’s a difficult discussion we need to have to raise awareness so we can change the culture. Watch my statement here.

The Impact of Interest Hikes on Student Loans

  • Ontario students have the highest debt rate and the lowest per-student funding in the country. We need to eliminate interest on student debt. Watch my question here.

Double ODSP Rates & Improve the Homelessness Crisis

  • CTV recently reported that at least two Ontarians with disabilities are choosing to die through Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) because they could not pay for housing that would reduce their suffering from their disability. Current monthly ODSP payments are 47.5 per cent short of the municipal poverty line in Toronto and 30 per cent below the province's poverty line. It is not possible to survive on these amounts in Ontario and many on ODSP are ending up homeless. I asked the Ford government to double ODSP rates. Watch my statement here.

Affordable Housing

  • Rents in Toronto rose 14.5% in 2021. Those in non-rent-controlled buildings are facing rent increases of $500/month. To say that housing under the Ford government is unaffordable is a huge understatement. Watch my statement here.


  • In January, my daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! Becoming a grandparent has further put into perspective how urgently we need to act on the climate crisis so future generations can have a sustainable world to live in. Watch my statement here.


  • We need to do everything we can to support the people of Ukraine in these incredibly difficult times. Watch my statement here.