Dear residents and friends,
I deeply appreciate your support and confidence and I look forward to an ongoing dialogue with you on the many issues, challenges and opportunities we'll face together as a community here in Ward 22, St. Paul's and as a city.
I'm advocating for a more thoughtful, creative and responsible new approach for city council. I want council to engage our city's residents with an inspiring plan and make informed decisions that are based on evidence, community consultation and the merits of arguments - rather than ideology or left or right-wing partisanship.
My staff and I are here to assist you with any concerns or questions you may have. We're also working every day to improve our local neighbourhoods- along with supporting the many valued services Torontonians rely on every day. You are always welcome to contact me at 416-392-7906 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Councillor Matlow spoke on options for the Scarborough Subway, March 31, 2016.
Councillor Matlow spoke on tenant issues related to the Residential Tenancies Act, December 18 2013.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A special tribute concert to commemorate the extraordinary legacy of Lois Lilienstein.
31 August 2015 - Toronto, ON. A special public celebration, hosted by Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison of Sharon, Lois & Bram, will take place on Saturday, September 26, 2015 to honour and pay tribute to the wonderful life of their partner and friend, Lois Lilienstein. Proceeds will benefit Mariposa in the Schools, who provide programmes benefitting school children across Ontario with a repertoire of world music, dance, storytelling, spoken word and puppetry that celebrate cross-cultural understanding.
Celebrating Lois will be an evening filled with music and memories, including classic Sharon Lois & Bram songs, mixed with some of Lois’s favourite tunes. The event will feature a look at memorable moments on and off stage, on screen and in life, and will remember Lois through songs, stories, photos and video, featuring special guests, and of course laughter. “We’re having a party for Lois, and Lois loved a party!” said Sharon and Bram. “We are so pleased to have the opportunity to share these memories with the people whose lives were touched by Lois.”
As Lois LOVED to bake, the evening will offer a “sweet treat” as well as presenting a fun and touching look at Lois’s life, from the perspective of her friends, family and colleagues. Musical moments will feature well-loved Lois favourites from the Sharon, Lois & Bram songbook, including “She’ll be Comin’ Round the Mountain”, “One Elephant", audience favourite “Skinnamarink“, and more!
When: Saturday, September 26, 2015
Time: 7:00 pm
Where: Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, 27 Front Street East, Toronto
Tickets: $25 each (including all applicable fees and taxes)
Proceeds to benefit Mariposa in the Schools – if you cannot attend and wish to make a donation in Lois’s memory please go to: http://www.mariposaintheschools.ca/
All artists, programmes, dates, and price are subject to change.
Special thanks to the following for their support: Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow, Jim Roe and Carol Henderson at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, The Food Dudes, Smucker's Foods of Canada Corp and artist John Coburn.
Lois Ada Lilienstein (nee Goldberg) was born on July 10, 1936, in Chicago. A classically trained singer and pianist, she studied music at the University of Michigan, where she met her future husband, Ernest Lilienstein. He was a sociology professor at York University in Toronto, where the family settled and raised their son David.
One of Canada’s most beloved children’s entertainers, from 1978 Lois was a member of the trio Sharon, Lois & Bram. Thanks to their television shows and the popularity of their albums, which won three Juno Awards and sold millions of copies worldwide, Sharon, Lois & Bram emerged during the 1980s as one of the most successful children's acts in North America. Perhaps best known for the songs “Skinnamarink,” “One Elephant”, and “Peanut Butter,” the trio were made members of the Order of Canada in 2003. Over the years, along with Sharon and Bram, Lois supported many social welfare programmes in Canada and the US, such as school breakfasts for learning, encouraging parents to inoculate their children and, internationally, as Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF in North and South America, for which they received the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award. Lois died of cancer on April 23, 2015. She was 78.
For media inquiries contact:
Update on Midtown Power Outages
I've heard from many of you that recurring power outages over the past several months have been disrupting your daily lives, from resetting alarm clocks to damaging electronic devices. My family and I have also been affected by these outages and share your frustrations, not only about the inconveniences they can cause but also the dramatic increase in the frequency at which they are occurring compared to past years.
I have made repeated requests to Toronto Hydro, asking them to share all information available about the cause of these outages and what is being done to reduce their frequency. Toronto Hydro has been slow to respond to my inquiries but I will continue to demand answers and action on behalf of our community.
Yesterday, I spoke directly with staff from the Office of the President at Toronto Hydro, who informed me that they too are “concerned” about this situation. However, they told me they don't know the cause of many of the recent outages, and even suspect their reporting system for service interruptions may not be reliably identifying all incidents.
I have made it clear to Toronto Hydro that this answer is unacceptable.
As a result, senior Toronto Hydro staff are now mobilizing crews to investigate this matter further and hopefully provide more helpful information shortly. I will be sure to share their next update to me with you via my e-newsletter and website.
If you continue to experience outages in the meantime, please contact Toronto Hydro directly at 416-542-8000.
Help Support a New Davisville Community Hub
As mentioned in my last newsletter, The TDSB is looking to rebuild Davisville Public School but is required by the provincial Ministry of Education to generate the funding needed to pay for the new facility through a land sale on the current site. I have been working closely with Davisville parents and local residents on a plan to transform this site into a Community Hub.
Please see the note below from local parents and community members to learn how you can get involved:
Davisville Public School is a TDSB priority to be rebuilt in 2020 and they plan to sell an acre of land to fund it.
Davisville Hub is a new community group working together with a mandate to ensure that this land is developed to serve and meet our community needs rather than to build more condos. The Davisville Hub community group is connecting with all levels of government and private funders to encourage them to partner and invest in a community hub.
The group is seeking your input for Ward 22 as it is the only ward without a community centre, yet have the highest number of tenants.
Your input would be greatly appreciated to identify the programs and services that would best benefit you and your family. Thank you!
The survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LBBHYL8
- Davisville Hub Community Group
Thelma/Spadina (Forest Hill Village) Parking Lot Update
From July 13th through mid-September, the Toronto Parking Authority will be doing work at their surface lot at the corner of Thelma Ave and Spadina Road. They will be demolishing the home just to the north of the lot and will be rebuilding the entire site to provide an additional 11 spaces. Also, there will be some streetscape improvements that are being cost-shared with the Forest Hill Village BIA.
Alternative parking options include the Heathview Condo parking lot on Heath Street, west of Tweedsmuir.
For additional information please contact the Toronto Parking Authority at 416-393-7275 or go to the Forest Hill BIA website at http://foresthillvillage.ca
Roycroft Park Trail Improvements
Parks, Forestry and Recreation are beginning improvements to the trail and main entry at Roycroft Park. The following improvements will rejuvenate the park and trail running from Winston Churchill Park to Boulton Avenue:
- Restoration of the existing trail, including better drainage to improve walking conditions;
- Repairs to the current fencing that protects the restored wetlands and new restoration plantings along the southern edge of the trail;
- Installation of new fencing in other areas as required;
- Enhancement of the southeastern entrance to Roycroft Park off Boulton Drive; and,
- Improvements to ensure emergency and maintenance vehicle access.
For more information, please click here.
Interactive Map of Ward 22 Heritage Properties
I'm pleased to announce I have developed the city's first interactive map of heritage properties. This particular map shows all heritage properties located in Ward 22, according to the City of Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties. I hope you find my map enjoyable and informative as a glimpse into our community’s built history and cultural past.
For more information on my efforts to preserve our city’s heritage, please see this article.
Have your say on Toronto's Long Term Waste Management Strategy
Don't miss this opportunity to share your ideas on how the City should manage its waste in the future:
- Get caught up by reading the most recent Project Update
- Take an online survey and share your feedback before July 24, 2015
The City needs and welcomes your input. Find out what the Waste Strategy is all about by visiting www.toronto.ca/wastestrategy.
The Local Dish – help create Toronto's largest collection of local food recipes
A new City of Toronto initiative called The Local Dish invites residents to share their favourite local food recipes and help to build Toronto's largest collection of recipes online. The collection, called The Local Dish, is hosted on Pinterest, a social media platform that makes it easy to share recipes and photos.
The goal is to encourage residents to choose local food more often, and to educate people about the abundance of fresh and delicious food that is grown in Ontario. The Local Dish also highlights the additional benefits of choosing local food, including support for local jobs and local farmers, and helping to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food travel.
Each month, The Local Dish will select an "all-star" veggie or fruit – one that is abundantly available in Ontario at that time – and invite residents to share their favourite recipes that feature the ingredient in a prominent way. Residents who submit recipes will be eligible for monthly prizes.
The all-star for the month of July is zucchini.
The Local Dish is also engaging some of Toronto's top restaurants and their chefs who are passionate champions of local food.
Please visit www.livegreentoronto.ca to find out how you can get involved in helping to build Toronto's largest local food recipe collection.
Help Improve Toronto's Municipal Legislation!
Every five years, the provincial government reviews the following key pieces of legislation:
- The City of Toronto Act, 2006 (COTA)
- The Municipal Act, 1990
- The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, 1990 (MCIA)
- The Municipal Elections Act (MEA), 1996
These laws set the rules and governance structure for our local governement. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is leading this year's review to assess and identify areas for improvement. An important part of the review process is the consultation process and receiving feedback from the public. For more information and to share your feedback, please visit:
Live Green Toronto Community Grants - now accepting applications!
The Environment & Energy Division is now accepting applications for Live Green Toronto Community Grants.The deadline to submit an expression of interest is September 25.
Eligible applicants include resident associations, parent councils, community groups, not-for-profit organizations and Business Improvement Areas. Please note that individuals and businesses are not eligible to apply.
To learn more, please visit livegreentoronto.ca.
Upcoming Toronto Youth Cabinet Training Session
The Toronto Youth Cabinet is hosting a training session for new members on Saturday, July 25. Youth 13 to 24 may register for the session by clicking here.
Property Tax, Utilities, and Parking Ticket Information Online
The City of Toronto has introduced three online tools that allow residents to conveniently and quickly access their accounts and profiles for property tax, utilities, and parking tickets. Information such as billing amounts, payment details and status of parking tickets are all easily accessible online. These new tools represent an effort towards more efficient service delivery and the modernization of the City.
Parking tickets can be paid online at toronto.ca/parkingtickets, however, property tax and utilities payments are not yet accepted online.
Proposed Developments in Ward 22
To ensure that you are informed and engaged about development proposals that are being proposed for sites near your neighbourhood, I've created an interactive webpage with locations, staff reports and public meeting notices. Please click here to learn more about what you can do to help free Toronto from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
First Meeting of Tenant Issues Committee This Thursday
The first meeting of the new Tenant Issues Committee will be this Thursday, June 18, 7-9pm, at City Hall in Committee Room 2. Tenants make up over 50% of Toronto's residents and have specific rights and responsibilities that are governed by City of Toronto by-laws and provincial legislation. Tenants have the right to live in a clean, well-maintained home and deserve fair representation when being faced with unfair rent increases or eviction.
As Chair, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that this committee provides a place for tenants to voice their concerns, and serves as a catalyst for bringing together disparate City Divisions, including Licensing & Standards, City Planning and Solid Waste, to work together to support Toronto’s tenants and advocate for needed reforms.
Stronger Urban Design Guidelines will Help Maintain Character of Forest Hill Village
In February 2014, I successfully moved a motion requesting City Planning Staff to study Forest Hill Village located along Spadina Road and prepare Urban Design Guidelines to protect the small town feeling of this distinctive area.
The mandate for the Forest Hill Village Urban Design Guidelines is to maintain the small town character of the area by identifying the appropriate urban character, materials and building rhythm and articulation for future developments and/or renovations within the study area. This includes a Staff recommendation for a maximum of four storeys for the Village.
These new guidelines will help strengthen City Planning’s position when assessing future development applications for the Village. To learn more about the new guidelines, please see this City report that was approved today by Toronto & East York Community Council.
Special Public Meeting Notice: Keeping our Neighbourhood Streets Safe
As our city councillor, a resident and a parent, I believe traffic safety in our neighborhoods is a deeply important priority.
Last year, I moved a motion to reduce and standardize speed limits on local neighborhood roads in response to evidence provided by local experts and best practices from other jurisdictions. The Chief Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto recommended reducing the speed limit to 30 km/h on most local residential streets. His report noted that pedestrians have an over 20% chance of dying when hit by a car travelling at 40 km/h but fatality rates decrease to less than 5% when hit by a car that travels at 30 km/h.
Facts such as these have prompted cities such as New York, Portland, and London, England to implement 30 km/h limits in neighbourhoods. After 30 km/h zones were introduced in London, these zones experienced a 42% reduction in fatalities.
I strongly agree with Steve Buckley, the City’s General Manager of Transportation Services, that police enforcement must be improved to successfully support this proposed change. That’s why I moved a motion at Council, which was supported by my colleagues, requesting the Toronto Police Service to crack down on speeders in residential areas.
However, Mr. Buckley's department’s street-by-street process for designating 30 km/h roads creates an onerous, ad-hoc mechanism that would take years to implement. Further, this piecemeal approach would create confusion, requiring drivers to check how fast they are allowed to go every time they turn onto a new street. The City needs to set a standard and predictable speed limit to tell drivers that they must slow down when they enter residential neighborhoods. The expectations the City sets then must be backed up by adequate police enforcement in order to be successful.
Moreover, I hear from residents almost every week about specific traffic safety concerns regarding their street and I regularly visit them, accompanied by transportation staff, to focus on their specific concerns and try to find solutions.
The motion I moved at Council was to ensure that there would be thoughtful and holistic consideration about any next steps taken to improve traffic safety in our neighborhoods. Therefore, my colleagues and I requested staff to provide us with a report and that there be a special evening meeting of Toronto & East York Community Council on June 22, from 6-8pm, in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
Please feel very welcome to attend.
85-95 Broadway Avenue & 198 Redpath Avenue Public Meeting
This application proposes a 34-storey residential building, comprised of a 3-storey base and 31-storey tower, at 85-91 Broadway Avenue and 198 Redpath Avenue. 322 residential units are proposed with 97 car parking spaces. You can view a copy of the Preliminary Report providing background information by clicking here.
The public meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 23 at 7 pm at the Northern District Library (40 Orchard View Boulevard), Gwen Liu Meeting Room (located on second floor of Library, accessed by elevator or main stair).
1417, 1421-1425, 1427 & 1429 Yonge St. Public Meeting
A planning application has been submitted for a 42-storey mixed-use building at 1417, 1421-1425, 1427 & 1429 Yonge St. The proposal includes 420 residential units and commercial space on the 1st and 2nd floors along with 4 levels of underground parking containing 136 parking spaces. You can view a copy of the Preliminary Report providing background information by clicking here.
The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 24 at 7 pm at Christ Church Deer Park, Elliot Hall, 1570 Yonge Street.
Evening and Weekend Bus Service Returning on Midtown Routes
I am excited to report that Mayor Tory and TTC Chair Colle announced recently that they support restoring evening and weekend service to midtown bus routes that were cut four years ago by then Mayor Ford and Chair Stintz. The following local routes had evening and weekend service reduced on May 8, 2011:
My office received more emails and phone calls against these cuts, particularly on the Mt. Pleasant 74 which serves four large seniors’ homes, than almost any other local issue during the last term of Council. I have worked with many in our community against these cuts since they were first proposed in early 2011, even riding routes myself and having my policy advisor conduct detailed ridership counts to dispute the previous administration’s inaccurate numbers.
I am so pleased to have a new Mayor and TTC Chair who understand that these local bus routes are the only transportation option for many seniors, students and workers. Many residents in our community, and across the city, will once again be able to rely on public transit to go grocery shopping, travel home from work, visit family and friends or attend religious services on the weekend. Also, the return of evening service on these routes will help address safety concerns among those who cannot afford a taxi and have been left with long walks to their home after dark for the last four years.
The TTC Commission determined that all four local routes will now operate until 1am. For more information please read the TTC’s report on this issue.
A Community Hub at Davisville PS
As many of you are aware, Davisville Public School is a great school but is in need of replacement due to small classrooms, regularly failing boilers, an inaccessible second floor gym, inadequate lunchroom facilities, along with other issues. The question is, and has been for a long time, how is the cash-strapped TDSB going to pay for a new building?
The provincial Ministry of Education is requiring the TDSB to generate the funding needed to pay for the new facility through a land sale on the current site. The TDSB is already in the initial stages of a process that would see the sale of almost an acre of the land put up for sale.
However, I have been working with Davisville parents and local residents on a plan to transform this site into a Community Hub. It is in the best interest of the School Board, as well as the Province and the City, if this public land is used for (along with a new, modern school) recreation, child care and other community uses instead of just another condo. Unlike North Toronto Collegiate Institute near Yonge and Eglinton, where condos can be allowed under the City's official plan (or even the south side of Davisville Ave), only low rise buildings are permitted where Davisville PS sits on the north side of Davisville Ave.
There are many challenges in the way of keeping this site public including the Province’s requirement for the TDSB to sell their land at market rate, the high capital cost associated with constructing community facilities, and a relatively short time line considering the need to construct a new school. However, I am committed to working with local parents to explore every potential option for keep this public land serving the public interest.
A group of dedicated local parents have formed a Davisville Hub advocacy group. Many of them have been involved in this issue for over five years. You can learn more about the need for a Davisville Hub and how you can get involved by visiting their website.
Ranked Ballots Closer to Being Used in Toronto Elections
The provincial government recently announced it will provide the City of Toronto with the option of using ballots that allow voters to use ranked ballots, starting in 2018.
Ranked ballots allow a voter to rank candidates in order of preference --first choice, second choice, third choice, etc. -- instead of just voting for one candidate. The Province has provided an example of a ranked ballot election here.
Under the new system, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote after all the first place votes are counted, the 2nd place votes are considered, and so on until an individual on the ballot receives a majority of votes. If adopted by Council, this change could give voters more influence on who wins an election, which it is hoped will help increase voter turnout.
The provincial government has stated that the benefits of ranked ballots may also include:
The province’s announcement in favour of ranked ballots is in response to a request for changes to the Municipal Elections Act made by the City of Toronto in 2013. I also want to recognize the efforts of local activist and personal friend, Dave Meslin. Mr. Meslin has been a tireless advocate for citizen engagement and has spent many years pushing for this voting reform. You can read more about ranked ballots through his website.
Noise bylaw public consultations - June 23 & 24
The Municipal Licensing and Standards division is undertaking a review of the City's noise bylaw. The goal of the review is to ensure that the bylaw is up-to-date and easy for residents, property owners, and businesses to understand. Public consultation meetings will be held to present findings from a noise survey conducted earlier this spring and to gather additional input from stakeholders and the public.
The dates are as follows:
- Tuesday, June 23 from 6 to 8 pm at City Hall, 100 Queen St. West, Committee Room 2
- Wednesday, June 24 from 6 to 9 pm at North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St., Committee Room 3
You are invited to provide feedback about this important review!
New types of soft plastic material can now be accepted into the Blue Bin program. Please now add plastic film (bags for dry cleaning, soil, sandwiches and other food items) as well as overwrap from toilet paper and paper towels to your bin. For more information on solid waste, please visit toronto.ca/recycle.
The City of Toronto is developing a 30 to 50 year Waste Strategy to find new ways to look after our waste. Solid Waste Management is looking for solutions that are socially acceptable, environmentally sustainable, and cost-effective. All options for new and emerging waste diversion and disposal methods will be considered, including what to do with garbage left over after diverting as much as we can. The Waste Strategy will recommend policies and programs to improve how we reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. Options being considered for Toronto's Waste Strategy cover all aspects of waste management. Learn about what is being considered and provide your feedback by visiting toronto.ca/wastestrategy. Your feedback is important to creating a successful Waste Strategy for Toronto!
Proposed Developments in Ward 22
To ensure that you are informed and engaged about development proposals that are being proposed for sites near your neighbourhood, I've created an interactive webpagewith locations, staff reports and public meeting notices. Please click here to learn more about what you can do to help free Toronto from the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB).
I’ve always appreciated many aspects of the Gardiner Expressway. It offers one of the most breathtaking views of Toronto’s skyline. The experience of travelling through the city’s core suspended amidst a canyon of shimmering glass towers never fails to excite me. It is a truly awe-inspiring vantage point from which to view our remarkable progress. And, of course, there’s the undeniable convenience of being able to drive down the DVP and have a continuous connection to the Gardiner, QEW and beyond. As a car driver, I like it.
When the Gardiner East debate began again this term, I was leaning toward the “hybrid” option. I agree with hybrid proponents that this is not the same fight as the Spadina Expressway battle led by my friend and mentor, former Mayor Crombie. No existing neighbourhoods will be bulldozed. No stable communities will be severed. The options being presented to Council are either keeping the status quo with some ramps moved (the hybrid option), or removing an existing piece of infrastructure. Choosing the latter felt wrong.
But then I began to read the City Staff reports and the facts got in the way of how I felt. I have always believed, and have strongly advocated, that politicians must make evidence-based decisions- even if those choices conflict with what the politician “feels or wants”. I chose to hold myself to the same standard and challenged my own initial assumptions.
Number of Users/Trip Times
Over the past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of seeing many of you at school fairs, local shops or in our community’s neighbourhoods. I have spoken with as many people as I possibly could to seek feedback as representing and reflecting our community well is deeply important to me. I asked for your feedback in my previous e-newsletter. Some even told me they thought that Council will be debating taking down the entirety of the Gardiner. To be clear, the issue before us is only whether to remove the section east of Jarvis. And based on the facts, that section is not particularly well used.
During the morning rush (or, AM Peak) hour, only 5,200 drivers use this section of the Gardiner. As a point of comparison, this usage rate is similar to peak hour ridership on a busy TTC bus route such as the Eglinton West 32, Don Mills 25, or Dufferin 29.
The City is not proposing to tear down the eastern Gardiner and replacing it with a park, as some other cities have done. The “Boulevard” option entails replacing the section east of Jarvis by connecting the DVP to the Gardiner with an eight-lane boulevard with the same traffic capacity as the existing Gardiner East section. There will, however, be a few traffic lights and lower speed limits.
The other option before Council has been termed the “Hybrid” option, so-called because months ago there was originally a compromise between the current Gardiner and removal, also called the “Hybrid”, that would have shifted the expressway north from the waterfront. However, City engineers did not approve that option as the turning radius of the ramps were too sharp. The current option, called the “Hybrid”, moves some ramps to allow for development of the Unilever Lands owned by First Gulf, but leaves the rest of the expressway pretty much as it currently is.
The big question to me then became; how much of a delay will the Boulevard option cause over the Hybrid?
The Staff report featured a large map (see below) that projected delays by 2031 for a number of hypothetical trips caused by the Boulevard option as compared to the Hybrid. The Boulevard showed delays of 2-3 minutes over the Hybrid from the various trips exhibited.
For the most part, these have been the numbers that the media has used. But buried within the text was the figure that really stood out to me: the Boulevard will cause an average delay of only 52 seconds per trip over the Hybrid for downtown commuters.
*Previously this section used an average trip time of 52 seconds to calculate a publicly-funded subsidy for delay times. As noted above, this number is the average delay expected for drivers in the downtown area as a result of choosing the Boulevard option over Hybrid. Upon further review, I believe this to be a bit of an apples to oranges figure for the purposes of making this calculation. There is no average given in the staff report for delays on the Gardiner itself, so, to be fair to Hybrid proponents, I have now used the highest staff proposed number of 3 minutes (for the difference in delay times between the two options), and specifically for the Gardiner itself rather than including the surrounding corridor, reflecting the trips in the map above for this calculation.
To provide the 5,200 AM Peak Hour Gardiner drivers with a time savings of 2-3 minutes Toronto residents are being asked to pay $458 million in 2013 dollars- that is the difference between the Hybrid ($919 million) and the Remove ($461 million) options. These figures include the capital costs as well as operations and maintenance for the next 100 years.
Because of the long time line for the costs, the report also expresses the dollar amounts in Net Present Value (NPV), taking into account the future value of a dollar. The “discounted” value for the capital and operating costs associated with the Hybrid is $336 million, while the Boulevard option is estimated at $240 million. There is some question as to whether NPV with a uniform discount rate is appropriate when assessing a project that could reasonably be expected to have significant costs in later years, such as an elevated expressway. I have further questions as to whether NPV is a relevant tool if the operating and maintenance costs are not included in the initial capital allocation. Specifically, if the City is going to pay operating and maintenance out of budgets in future years will we benefit from the discounted dollars the report suggests?
However, despite these questions, I assumed the discounted cost differential between the Hybrid and the Boulevard of $116 million for the purpose of my analysis.
Another major cost consideration is the lost development opportunity associated with the Hybrid option. An additional 12 acres of land will be opened up for office, retail and residential construction with the Boulevard option. This would bring in $137 million dollars to the City plus ongoing property tax revenue.
In total, using the most conservative “discounted” figures, the Hybrid option will cost an additional $252 Million over the boulevard option to save 5,200 rush hour drivers 3 minutes (high end estimate). Residents will be paying each of these drivers $2.14 for each minute they are delayed for the next 30 years ($252,000,000/5,200 drivers/251 commuting days/30 years, the Treasury Board of Canada’s recommended average amortization period for an infrastructure asset/ 3 years). If multiplied by 60 minutes, we are paying these drivers a wage rate of $128.40/hr for their time. This rate is 6 times the recommended wage rate of $20/hr used by City staff to calculate productivity losses due to time.
Urban Planning Considerations
The debate over the how the future Boulevard will function has been filled with unhelpful rhetoric on both sides (as I find most city hall debates end up having), developed to spin their message and convince the public of their respective positions. Those favouring removing the east Gardiner are putting forth a utopian vision of the Champs D’Elysse, while the Hybrid proponents are painting a picture of a brutalist, at-grade speedway that will be inhospitable to pedestrians. There are certainly some constraints inherent with an 8-lane street with a relatively high speed limit. However, there are relatively simple urban planning solutions, including setting the buildings back from the road and planting a wall of street trees at the edge of the sidewalk, the City could implement to improve the pedestrian realm. The truth is, we can make this Boulevard a relatively walkable street or a wasteland. It depends what we choose to do. But the option for the former is available to us.
Toronto is already scraping the top of its debt ceiling and has very limited room to invest in much-needed capital infrastructure. It recently replaced a planned 7-stop LRT that was fully funded by the provincial government by approving a 3-stop subway extension (while unnecessarily increasing our debt load and property taxes) that will require massive subsidies due to low ridership while our affordable housing stock literally crumbles under the weight of a $2 billion dollar capital backlog. No other successful world city is making these kind of decisions.
In addition to our Community Housing crisis, we need to build the Relief Subway line to ease critical overcrowding on the existing Yonge line and get moving on SmartTrack while providing new childcare spaces and community hubs, among other priorities.
Spending a minimum of $252 million to save a relatively small number of people one minute on their morning commute is not something I can reasonably support when there are so many pressing, real and underfunded (or unfunded) priorities waiting for investment.
I have heard from many of you already that you support the Boulevard option. I’ve read all of your emails. I’ve also appreciated former Mayor David Crombie’s advice along with many others. For those of you who don't, I hope that I’ve at least explained my thought process to you about how I arrived at this decision and can assure you it was a difficult, honest and thoughtful choice.
As your representative, I will be supporting the Boulevard option for the Gardiner East at Council next week. While it’s admittedly imperfect, I believe this option is by far the most fiscally responsible choice, it supports our city’s infrastructure priorities and will greatly benefit our Toronto’s waterfront in the long run.
On Thursday, May 28 at 7 pm, I hosted a public meeting regarding improvements to the Lawton Parkette at Yonge and Heath Streets. The community came to a clear consensus on the direction for the final design.
If you were unable to attend the meeting but would like more information, please review the documents below.
As a final preferred concept design, the community chose a hybrid of the two concepts presented. The key features will be as follows:
- General layout as shown in Preliminary Concept Two with revisions including:
- Replacing the isolated seating area at the north end of the site with the new stairs c/w railing and path connection from Preliminary Concept One;
- Relocating the existing armourstone blocks to continue to provide seating at the south end of the site;
- Consider including a second picnic table; and
- Ensure to maintain the existing trash and recycling receptacles on-site.
To view the final preferred concept design, please click here.
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