MNLCT introduces She-Covery Response Program: Building Skills for Work

September 1, 2021

The Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto has introduced their new program She-Covery Response: Building Skills for Work.

MNLCT is committed to support those facing structural and systemic barriers. They are offering help and resources to women, who have lost their employment due to COVID-19.

The She-Covery Response: Building Skills for Work program helps to transition racialized and marginalized women from unemployment or underemployment conditions into labour market opportunities.

This is accomplished by providing them the following services:

  • Mental health support from a social justice perspective – career and training focused
  • Training in essential employability skills – upskilling and re-skilling
  • Advanced employability skills trainings – upskilling
  • Direct referrals to Employment Ontario agencies and other resources available – employment support

The program also aims at building lasting partnerships with employers, who are looking to get their business back post-pandemic and would like to benefit from this free program designed for women in the workforce.

How can employers save costs and time by partnering with the program?

  • Employers can identify and refer their current employees, women who need reskilling or upskilling so they can employ them further, which could save them the costs of the training.
  • They can send previous employees, women who they had to lay off due to COVID-19 but after reskilling or upskilling they would like to rehire, which saves the costs of recruitment.
  • They also get the access to a pool of talented women, who worked on their skill set and confidence, consciously built up their employability status and value on the labour market and are ready to step up and start a new job. Employers will be connected to our participants through Employment Ontario agencies.
  • All MNLCT services are free of charge but only for a limited time.

Visit the Program website:

DUKE Heights Back2School Backpack Drive 2021 put smiles on 700 faces!

September 1, 2021

During the last week of August 2021, DUKE Heights Business Improvement Area worked with the local City Councillors to present two separate backpack drives for the York Centre and Humber River-Black Creek communities. Our sincere gratitude to Upper Crust for generously supporting us by sponsoring 700 backpacks.

On Monday, August 30, 2021, our backpack- and school supplies giveaway took place at the Downsview Park. Thanks to the City Councillor James Pasternak and his staff for organizing a Back2School event for the ward 6 residents. The team invited families to gather in the Downsview Park as we gave away about 350 backpacks filled with notebooks, coloring pens, pencils, crayons, math sets, and more to school-age children from the Humber River Black-Creek community.

Our backpack drive to help distribute supplies and prepare students for back-to-school continued until Wednesday, September 01, 2021, at the Fountainhead Park located at 445 Sentinel Road with help from the City Councillor Anthony Perruzza and his staff. We distributed another 350 backpacks among families from the York Centre area. The local MPP, Tom Rakocevic also joined us for the event.

We recognize that while we all are working together to recover from the pandemic, back to school supplies can be a financial burden for many families, especially if there has been a loss of income since last year due to the pandemic. Our Backpack Drive initiative was an attempt to relieve some of that burden and support the students who are going back to school this September.


Councillor’s Corner – Ward 6 : September 2021


September 14, 2021

Dear friends,

It’s September and that means going “Back to School” for students across the country. Not only is this year’s back to school significant to students and parents, but it is also an important time for businesses in our city as well.

Offices are beginning to open up, more restaurants and shops are expanding services and hours of operations, and our economy is beginning to work its way back to pre-pandemic levels.

Our office has been focused on ensuring students are supported in restarting their schooling this year, given the many challenges they face. That is why we were excited to host our latest “Back to School” event at Downsview Park this past week, where we provided free ice cream, backpacks for students, and a vaccination opportunity for anyone who wanted it.

It was incredibly successful, attracting over 700 people throughout the day!
We were lucky to partner with Duke Heights BIA in giving away 300 backpacks with stationaries to deserving students starting the school year. Lastly, our vaccine clinic, hosted by Humber River Hospital, vaccinated over 70 students and their family members in advance of the school year.

We look forward to continuing our work with the Duke Heights BIA in supporting local businesses and the community in the months and years to come, as we continue our recovery.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office with any questions or concerns.

Looking forward to seeing you all soon,

Councillor James Pasternak
Ward 6 –Downsview – York Centre

Councillor’s Corner- Ward 7 : September 2021


September 14, 2021

Dear Resident,

Many families were looking forward to the new school year, but many are uneasy given the ongoing circumstances facing the pandemic. The plans announced by the Ministry of Education will continue to develop, and I will continue to share updates with you. As the Poverty Reduction Advocate for the City of Toronto and as a parent, I listen and advocate for better health and safety standards. Our schools need to be able to hire more custodians, nurses, teachers, and other staff to support our children and each other through this process.

This month, you can continue to access community centres for heat relief and drop-in sports. Visit the City of Toronto’s website to confirm the most up-to-date instructions related to COVID-19 protocol and book reservations for City programming.

Remember to stay safe and continue to follow all public health guidelines. Please get both vaccines; there are pop-up clinics available in our community to serve you.

Property Tax & Water Bill Rebate Programs:

Every year my office hosts Property Tax & Water Bill Rebate clinics to help seniors and those with disabilities fill out applications for these programs. Due to COVID-19, this year will be different.

Please call my office to set up a one-on-one appointment at (416) 338-5335 or email

The deadline to apply for the Property Tax, Water Bill, and Solid Waste Relief programs is October 29, 2020. Please confirm which ID you need to bring with you to your appointment.

If you have questions about local developments, community projects or need access to other City-related information, please contact me at 416-338-5335 or

For regular updates, please follow me on Facebook @AnthonyPerruzza, Twitter @PerruzzaTO, Instagram @Perruzza_TO, or subscribe to my regular e-newsletter updates online by visiting my website.


City Councillor Anthony Perruzza

Ward 7 – Humber River-Black Creek

10 Incredible Mural Arts in DUKE Heights will brighten your day!

August 2021

Over the past few months, DUKE Heights BIA had the privilege of being a part of ArtworxTO project of the City of Toronto that aimed to produce various mural art projects to beautify prominent streets in the area. The murals work to bring passersby and residents together to strengthen the bonds between community members and nearby businesses using unifying art pieces. Throughout these unprecedented times, street art can provide a sense of solace and trust to residents and local businesses while offering meaningful work to local artists that share special connections to the neighborhood. Next time you see a mural, take a moment to stop and admire its beauty and remember the artist’s passion for the city that fueled each paint stroke.

Mural Art Title: “Red Birches”

Location: 4925 Dufferin St & Gerry Fitzgerald

Artist: Adele Steinberg

Instagram: @adele_steinberg


Adele has decades of painting experience with diverse mediums which she has honed through her membership at the Willowdale Group of Artists and North York Visual Artists. Adele is a long-time resident of North York where she raised her family and taught art for many years as a teacher. “Red Birches” is Adele’s first mural. Her art was inspired by its proximity to G Ross Lord Park as it reflects one’s interconnectedness to nature and the beauty of this symbiotic harmony.

Mural Art Title: “Pull Up a Chair”

Location: 1106 Alness St (south of Flint Rd)

Artist: Alisha Davison

Instagram: @alisha_lucia


Alishia is an artist and illustrator located in Toronto, she loves working with various mediums to capture human connection and its interactions with the natural world. She is a passionate volunteer in the DUKE Heights area and takes pride in the welcoming nature of the community. Alisha’s mural “Pull Up a Chair” incorporates DUKE Height’s rich history of furniture manufacturing and design in the community. Alisha takes the familiarity of a chair and repurposes it in a plethora of ways to encourage passersby to take a step back and look a little differently at the ordinary.

Mural Art Title: “Memphis Dreams”

Location: 63 Alness St

Artist: Caylen Monroe

Instagram: @caylenmonroe


Caylen is a painter from birth, beginning with portraiture and later evolving their work into large-scale murals. They are passionate about important topics like queerness, gender non-conformity, and feminism and regularly express this through their art. Caylen’s ties to the community, as both a former resident and York University student, inspired them to be a part of the street art beautifying process. Their passion for colour inspired their mural “Memphis Dreams”, a maximalist interpretation of a familiar home space, inspired by the Memphis Milano Design firm.

Mural Art Title: “Building People”

Location: 3983 Chesswood Dr

Artist: Dina Belaia

Instagram: @Dina_belaia_artist


Dina’s artistic journey began at a young age in Russia, and her passion brought her to York University to continue her studies. She is an illustrator and graphic designer and has continued her work painting murals around the community. Dina’s mural “Building People” reflects on the importance of people in bringing to life their surroundings, like the very neighborhood the artwork is located in. She is inspired by the diversity of the people and businesses of the DUKE Heights area and spends a lot of her time enjoying all that the community has to offer.

Mural Art Title: “New Energy”

Location: 598 Champagne Dr

 Artist: Janny Van Der Eyken Mol

Instagram: @JaiaVM


Jaia is a Mexican-born artist who immigrated to Canada in 2010 with no education, work experience, or connections to support her in a new country. Jaia worked hard to build a life for herself, her first job was at a small skateboarding warehouse near Downsview Park. Jaia’s recent education at OCAD has fuelled her visual artwork and inspired her to undertake her first experience painting a mural. Jaia’s mural “New Energy” actively represents the up-and-coming changes to the community, especially those that broaden the access to healthcare in the area.

Mural Art Title: “Lift Each Other in the Heights”

Location: 2361 Petrolia Rd

Artist: Marianne Langford

Instagram: @Paintsixx


Marianne is a former elementary school teacher who now resides in Toronto. Her family immigrated from Egypt in 1965 and she later pursued teaching at York University, winning Teacher of the Year in 2002. As a newly budding artist, she has found solace in her artwork during the pandemic and the mural’s completion is a long-awaited goal that she is deeply proud to check off her list of achievements. Marianne’s mural “Lift Each Other in the Heights” reflects the supportive nature and unity of the businesses and community members in the area.

Mural Art Title: “Mid-Century Modern Duke Heights”

Location: 4465 Chesswood Dr

Artist: Sarah Alinia Ziazi



Sara is an artist based in Toronto, having honed her skills in Illustration at OCAD University. Her work was featured in several Canadian galleries and art societies in America as she loves to combine traditional and digital mediums to inspire her work. She has numerous friends and family who reside in North York and associates the DUKE Heights community with the people she loves.  Sara’s mural “Mid-Century Modern Duke Heights” is a modernist twist on simple furniture design to invoke feelings of optimism about the flourishing of home furniture businesses in the area.

Mural Art Title: “Art Deco”

Location: 493 Alness St

Artist: Victor SY Wei

Instagram: @victorsywei


Victor is a passionate storyteller that aims to articulate the neighborhood’s history through his work. His diverse portfolio is led by his passion for traditional folk art with a modern twist as he loves to work with inspiring colours to brighten mundane objects. Victor is a frequent visitor of the DUKE Heights area and his fond memories of the community helped inspire his mural. Victor’s mural “Art Deco” is influenced by the art deco style of visual arts as he incorporates unique designs and patterns that shine a new light on unadorned furniture.

Mural Art Title: “That’s How We Knoll”

Location: 1111 Alness St (north of Flint Rd)

Artist: Victoria Day

Instagram: @artistvictoriaday


Victoria is a printmaker and craftsman, constructing large-scale murals and artwork that incorporate ideas of introspection and unapologetic feminism. As a former resident of the area, Victoria relishes in the beauty of the neighborhoods, often biking through Downsview Park where it brings her great joy to find murals scattered throughout the area. Victoria’s mural “That’s How We Knoll” incorporates imagery from a dynamic and spunky tool cabinet that reimagines the traditional woodworking apparatus that much of the furniture and manufacturing industry in DUKE Heights utilizes.

Mural Art Title: “Furniture in Nature”

Location: 907 Alness St

Artist: Yasaman Mehrsa

Instagram: @Yasamanmehrsa


Yasaman began to practice art actively in 2018 and later worked on various community projects within the Toronto area and beyond. Her primary motive is the interconnectedness between humans and nature as she uses her work to emit positive energy and tell important stories. She is a resident of North York and as a regular commuter, she appreciates the positive and enlightening energy that colourful and bright art installments bring to the area. Yasaman’s mural “Furniture in Nature” uses design to symbolically shape and mold the vibrant neighbourhood setting.


Tour de Duke 2021 Bike Giveaway Event held at the Champagne Centre

August 01, 2021

On Sunday, July 18, 2021, we hosted Tour de DUKE, our annual community bike giveaway event at the Champagne Centre, where 110 bikes were successfully donated to local families in need.

Prior to the event, the DUKE Heights BIA team procured the bikes with generous contribution by the local businesses. The BIA was proud to partner with City Councillors James Pasternak (Ward 6 – York Centre) and Anthony Perruzza (Ward 7 – Humber River-Black Creek) who helped allocate the bikes and find deserving families in the community.

CultureLink operated as the heart of the event and as a pillar for health and safety at the event; their team ensured that the children were safe while having fun on their new bikes. They offered personalized helmet fittings and an interactive bike riding circuit to train the kids to be smart bicycle riders! The CultureLink team also dedicated countless hours prior to the event to assemble and adjust the bikes for the children.

Nonetheless, the event’s success is owed to the eager families that came out for the day. There was plenty of fun and laughs to go around as families took advantage of the sunny weather and delicious ice cream. Specifically, the cooperation of the families was greatly appreciated as the COVID-19 safety protocols were closely adhered to. Family members came in during specifically allocated time slots for safe distribution of the bikes, all while physically distancing and utilizing face masks.

Finally, a special thank you to the Champagne Centre for allowing the use of their facilities and providing the necessary support to make the Tour de DUKE 2021 event happen! The day was an incredible success that brought together the community for a worthwhile cause, the smiles on the children’s faces as they rode their new bikes were priceless! The BIA is hopeful that this event will expand in the years to come to ensure that more kids have access to bikes and promote cycling in the community.

Event Photo Gallery

Councillor’s Corner- Ward 7 : July 2021


August 01, 2021

Dear Resident,

With Stage 3 upon us, we have the ability to gather indoors in certain settings, eat inside restaurants, and visit gyms with the appropriate measures in place. Public attractions like the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum are open for families this summer. Personal care services that require removing a face covering are permitted with specific instructions to protect employees and patrons.

The City of Toronto has reopened recreational facilities for self-directed programs and services with attendance caps. Activities like indoor fitness, walking tracks, and weight rooms are available.

Residents can also access community centres for heat relief and washroom use. Lane and leisure swimming and drop-in sports options have also launched. The City has a list of public pools open to help everyone stay cool. Visit the City of Toronto’s website to confirm the most up-to-date instructions related to COVID-19 protocol and book reservations for City programming.

Remember to stay safe and continue to follow all public health guidelines. Please get your first and second vaccine as soon as possible; there are pop-up clinics available in our community to serve you.

If you have questions about local developments, projects or need access to other City updates, please get in touch with me at 416-338-5335 or


City Councillor Anthony Perruzza

Ward 7 – Humber River-Black Creek

Where can I get vaccinated?

Please check online or call my office for the current requirements.

  1. City-Operated Immunization Clinics. The closest locations in our area are Carmine Stefano Community Centre, 3100 Weston Rd. and The Hangar, 74 Carl Hall Rd. (Downsview Park). Visit or call 1-888-999-6488.
  2. Humber River Regional Hospital, main clinic located at Downsview Arena, 1633 Wilson Ave. Operates 7 days per week from 10 AM to 6 PM. Visit or call 1-888-999-6488.
  3. Select pharmacies including:
    Shoppers Drug Mart (Jane Finch Mall) 
    Shoppers Drug Mart (Finchdale Plaza)
    IDA (Yorkgate Mall)
    Jane and Sheppard Pharmacies
    Jane and Wilson Pharmacies 
  4. Please visit my website and social media pages for details about mobile pop-up clinics. There are different locations throughout Humber River-Black Creek offering vaccines without appointments depending on the daily supply.

How can I get a translation?

My office offers translations in Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Punjabi, Hindi, Tamil and Arabic. If you have questions about language options, call my office, and we will figure out the best way to get you a translation.

Councillor’s Corner – Ward 6 : August 2021


August 01, 2021

Dear friends, neighbours, and business owners,

In recent months, we have been clear in our message that we would like to stimulate our economy and support local businesses, small or large, in their efforts to safely reopen.

The City of Toronto is undergoing a Municipal Comprehensive Review to ensure its Official Plan conforms to the Province’s Growth Plan. This process should include extensive consultation with the public, but more importantly with the affected businesses. We are concerned about a lack of consultation on the ongoing zoning conformity for Official Plan Employment Areas throughout the City of Toronto. Our office has expressed its complete support to the Duke Heights BIA in addressing any issues the businesses of the BIA might have.

During the pandemic, the importance of the Health Services sector to our country became very clear. That’s why we are extremely proud of our most recent success in City Council. During the July Council meeting, we secured a major win for the Champagne Centre supporting their work in providing health care to our community members.

On that note, we would like to extend our thanks to the Champagne Centre, along with our other health partners – North York General Hospital and Humber River Hospital – for supporting the vaccination efforts in Downsview – York Centre.

We look forward to seeing all of you in person soon as we get ready for Back To School and the reopening of the city!

As always, please feel free to reach out with any issues that our office could support you with at or at (416) 392 1371.

All the best,

Councillor James Pasternak
Ward 6 – York Centre

DUKE Promos August 2021

DUKE Heights Business Improvement Area (BIA) is home to 2500 businesses, located between Keele and Dufferin Street and Sheppard and Steeles Avenue. Our BIA businesses offer a wide range of products and services at competitive prices. Explore DUKE Heights BIA businesses and help support local businesses by taking advantage of these special discounts and savings being offered to you until August 31, 2021.

All offers are valid until August 31, 2021. The Promo Codes can be shared and redeemed by more than one person and more than once subject to availability. However, checking with the vendor for any restrictions is advisable.


Councillor’s Corner – Ward 6 : July 2021


July 01, 2021

Dear neighbours,

I would like to begin by wishing you a happy and safe Canada Day!

With the province moving into Stage 2 of the reopening plan, we are happy to see more businesses being able to open their doors to customers, and we look forward to a day where all of our businesses are operating at full capacity.

We are lucky to have the Duke Heights BIA support the vaccination initiative through the clinics at the Champagne Centre, where many members of the community, including our office were able to get their vaccines. Thanks to such initiatives, we have fully vaccinated 45 percent of adults and are able to move forward in the reopening of the city and moving our economy into full gear.

As the summer season progresses, we look forward to hosting outdoor events, and coming together with community members and businesses in the neighbourhood.

We will continue to promote our Small and Medium sized businesses through various channels, to encourage the community to shop locally and to support our local economy!

As always, if you have any municipal related matters that we can assist with, please reach out to our office at or at (416) 392 1371.

All the best,

Councillor James Pasternak
Ward 6 – York Centre
Chair, North York Community Council
Vice Chair, Infrastructure and Environment Committee