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 tenant issues related to the Residential Tenancies Act, December 18 2013.
Councillor Josh Matlow spoke regarding development charges, October 9, 2013.
Council Rejects Fully-Funded Scarborough LRT Plan, Supports Tax hike and Higher Debt
This week council chose to reopen the City of Toronto's agreement with Metrolinx to construct a fully-funded seven-stop, grade-separated Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line and replace it with with an unnecessary three-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line that will cost an additional $1 billion. Further, the Mayor and the majority of councillors chose a subway contingent on provincial and federal funding that has not been committed to and now appears in doubt. I do not believe Council should be making costly and important transit infrastructure decisions wtihout a clear plan for how to pay for them and without sound planning policy to support those choices. Due to this irresponsible decision, the Mayor will be asking Council to add more than $560 million dollars to our City's debt load and raise Toronto residents' property taxes to service that debt. I did not, and will not, support this request.
The new Scarborough LRT, just like a subway, would have been a completely traffic-separated line. No lanes removed. No traffic lights. No cross streets. This was factually never a streetcar vs subway debate and should not have been characterised as such.
The new Bombardier-made LRT trains average 36 km/h — that’s faster than the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines, which average 32 km/h. The Scarborough LRT line was to have been more than two kilometres longer than a subway extension and have four more stops serving major trip generators, including Centennial College. The LRT’s alignment placed it within walking distance to over 20,000 more people than a three-stop subway extension would.
The decision to move forward with a subway on this route was based on politics, not sound transit policy. I believe, based on the facts known to us, that our real subway expansion priority is the Downtown Relief Line Subway that would essentially go north/south along Pape and run east/west along King or Queen. Our current transit subway system has urgent capacity challenges already during rush hours and also has over $2 billion of state-of-good-repair needs. Ultimately, I hear from residents that they want Council to stop reopening plans that make sense and finally move forward with building a transit system that serves Toronto and region's growing population. I will continue fighting for an evidence-based, fiscally-responsible transit plan that includes a thoughtful combination of new subways and LRTs based on honest planning.
Please click here to view my op-ed on his subject that appeared in last Friday's Toronto Star.
Naming a Ward 22 Playground to honour the Iconic, Canadian Performance Group, Sharon, Lois & Bram
I am delighted to announce that, with your support, I plan to name the playground inside June Rowlands (Davisville) Park the Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground after the iconic Canadian children's music trio. I believe naming a well-loved children's playground is a very fitting way to honour these Canadian music and television legends and local residents. I hope that this naming will also help introduce their music to a new generation of children in our community and city.
Please read this recent story about our initiative.
Bringing Common Sense to Parking Enforcement
Some parking infractions do not warrant the same level of police enforcement as others. An illegally parked car on a quiet street with surplus spots is less of a problem than an illegally parked car or stopped delivery vehicle on an arterial road. Vehicles illegally parked or stopped on arterial curb lanes can delay thousands of drivers and transit riders. My motion to bring a common sense approach to parking enforcement was approved by City Council and referred to Committee for further consideration.
Easing Congestion Caused by Rush Hour Deliveries on Busy Streets
Traffic congestion is a significant problem for Toronto's motorists, public transit users and cyclists. Of course, the long-term solution to this problem includes building a more accessible, extensive and efficient public transportation system in addition to encouraging car-pooling and cycling. But, in the meantime, whether one is a motorist or a surface transit user, it is infuriating to see a large delivery vehicle blocking an entire lane of traffic during rush hour. My motion requests staff to study the possibility of banning delivery trucks from stopping on main streets during rush hours.
Improved Parking for Mopeds and Scooters
The City of Toronto should be encouraging the use of mopeds and scooters because, in a city challenged by gridlock, they take up less road and parking space while using less fossil fuel. However, unlike bicycles, scooters and mopeds must be parked on the street where they are vulnerable to theft or damage and occupy valuable paid-parking spaces that fund important services like parks, libraries, and road maintenance.
My motion seeks to bring our regulations into the twenty-first century and reap the rewards of increased moped and scooter ridership without reducing road safety or pedestrian comfort.
Ping Pong Table for June Rowlands Park
After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from local residents, I brought forward a motion that passed at Council this week to install a concrete outdoor ping pong table at June Rowlands (Davisville) park. Similar tables have been installed in parks throughout various neighbourhoods in the City including High Park and North Scarborough and have been well received. I have worked with Parks staff to prioritize the table's installation for use this summer. I anticipate that it will be ready for use by the end of the month. I am also working on parks improvement plans for Forest hill Road Park, Charlotte Maher Park, Glebe Manor and several others throughout Ward 22.
After last week's epic rain storm, I heard from many residents and friends who experienced basement flooding. My family and I have gone through this too. If your basement was flooded, please call 311 to report a blocked drain or sewer back-up, or for more information and assistance. 311 is a service that is available 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.
Toronto Water is working as fast as they can to respond to calls and visit affected homes, but response times are likely to be slower than normal due to the extremely high volume of calls they have received.
For more information about basement flooding, including the City's basement flooding subsidy program, please visit the Toronto Water website.
Special Garbage Pickup
The City of Toronto is providing special garbage collection for items damaged in the storm and subsequent flooding of July 8. The City will collect bulky items left at the curb, including couches, mattresses or other furniture, extra bagged items (Bag Tags not required), and carpeting (in rolls of maximum 1.2 metres or 4 feet length and 20 kg or 44 lbs in weight). This special collection of flood-damaged materials is not intended for hazardous household waste items, construction or renovation waste, or general clean-up of items that were not damaged by the flood.
Residents are asked to be patient as this effort is completed and regular service resumes. For more details please call 311.
Live Green Toronto Festival
The 8th annual Live Green Toronto Festival, a celebration of all things green, will take place on Saturday, July 27th from 11 am to 9 pm at Yonge-Dundas Square. The festival is free and open to everyone, and will feature over 100 vendors of green products and services, outdoor yoga, activities for children, a swap zone, and more. The musical line-up will include Shawn Desman, Kardinal Offishal, Victoria Duffield, and Anjulie, among others. Please visit the Live Green Festival website for more information.
Oriole Park Community Garden Update
For the past year and a half, I have been working with the Oriole Park Community Garden Committee, along with the Friends of Oriole Park and City staff, to create Ward 22's first community garden in Oriole Park.
Last week, we had a successful meeting where City staff presented and displayed what the proposed garden may look like and where it will be located within the park. We received positive feedback from residents, and there was dialogue with all parties to make sure the Community Garden is a success.
The next step will be an application and proposal by the Oriole Park Community Garden Committee to the City of Toronto. We continue to welcome your participation and feedback in shaping the Community Garden!
Youth Equity Update: The Roots of Youth Violence
My initiative to create a Youth Equity Framework was approved this week by City Council. This week also marks one year since the Danzig Street shooting, a solemn reminder that we must work quickly and effectively because we cannot wait for another tragedy to spur more calls for blue ribbon panels and simplistic reactions. This Framework is the first step of a three-stage process to support the most marginalized youth in Toronto who are most likely to be involved in or victimized by violence. It sets out the principles of how the City of Toronto will target the roots of youth violence and how it will organize, over the course of the summer, so that all City departments and community stakeholders are on the same page, working together.
City of Toronto and School Boards Task Force
Council approved my motion to create a task force made up of city councillors and school trustees from all four boards in the Toronto area. We serve the same communities, and share many priorities, yet are different levels of government. Now there will finally be a formal table for us to work together on common priorities such as community hubs, school pools, childcare, recreation and learning opportunities for all ages.
Toronto Youth Cabinet Film Festival
The Toronto Youth Cabinet is looking for submissions for the first Youth Film Festival, which will take place on Tuesday, August 27th at the Canadian National Exhibition. The theme of the film festival is "Reflecting the Reality", looking at the lifestyles and challenges that young people face on a daily basis.
If you are between the ages of 16 to 28 and interested in creating and submitting a short film/animation/documentary/music video that reflects the theme of the festival, please visit the Toronto Youth Cabinet website for more information and submission details.
Join the Housing Services Conversation
The City of Toronto is inviting you to share your views on the delivery of services that prevent homelessness and help some of Toronto's most vulnerable residents to find and keep permanent housing. The Province of Ontario is changing how it funds the City to provide housing services and this is an opportunity to transform how we provide these services into an integrated system. Your feedback is invaluable for developing this system effectively. Please visit the Toronto Housing Services Consultations website to participate.
Avenue Road Construction Update
For this week's Avenue Road construction update, please visit my website. I am also closely monitoring progress on the Rathnelly watermain project, am actively urging the City to complete it as soon as possible and will post an update soon.
It's been another very busy and productive week. Last weekend, I was proud to march in Toronto's Pride parade and enjoy brunch with PFLAG, an organization of parents and family members of our city's vibrant LGBTQ community.
I was also delighted to celebrate Canada Day with our MP Carolyn Bennett at her annual BBQ. It was great to see so many friends participating in our country's 146th birthday together. I also extend my best wishes to community's US citizens who celebrated Independence day this week.
Meanwhile, at city council, I continue to advocate for thoughtful, non-ideological, fiscally responsible and socially progressive governance. Our next Council meeting begins on July 16th at Toronto City Hall. In my next update, I'll send you motions I intend to move on issues ranging from better parking enforcement practices to improving transit and curbing gridlock.
I do hope you find my latest update to you below interesting and informative.
For my previous e-newsletters, please click here.
Oriole Park Community Garden Public Meeting
For the past year and a half, I have been working with the Oriole Park Community Garden Committee, along with the Friends of Oriole Park, and City staff to create Ward 22's first community garden in Oriole Park. Join me for a public meeting on the progress of the Oriole Park Community Garden this coming Wednesday, July 10 from 7 to 9 pm. The meeting location is the Arthur Smith Room at Christ Church Deer Park (1570 Yonge Street). There will be a visual display of what the proposed gardens will look like and where they will be situated. Your feedback is important to us!
Midtown Planning Group Meeting
As a result of a letter I submitted with Councillor Stintz, and worked on with Councillor Robinson, to the Planning and Growth Committee last spring, Council endorsed my initiative to create a Midtown Planning group. As those in the community know all too well, the Yonge-Eglinton area is facing intense development pressure, the Ontario Municipal Board still has the last say over development proposals and the Yonge eglinton neighbourhood is divided into two planning areas. This initiative is a first step to ensure that the public space in the area is expanded and enhanced in a comprehensive way and with local residents at the table.
City Planning has started a Parks, Open Space and Streetscape Master Plan for the Yonge-Eglinton Study Area. When complete, the Master Plan will describe a comprehensive vision for the public and publicly accessible spaces in the community supported with a guide for future improvement initiatives for parks, open spaces and streetscapes.
The Master Plan is intended to support and facilitate the Midtown Planning Group’s objective to create a proactive, holistic, and comprehensive strategy for planning in the Yonge and Eglinton area of Midtown, which will help bring consistency to planning across Community Council boundaries.
Date: Thursday, July 11
Time: 12 pm to 2 pm
Location: Northern District Library - Room 224 (2nd floor), 40 Orchard View Boulevard
Beltline Town Hall
This year, I have been working with our community and City staff to enhance the Beltline Trail by restoring natural areas and improving access. Join me for a public town hall meeting to discuss the progress of the Beltline Trail this coming Thursday, July 11 from 7 to 9 pm. The meeting will be located at Christ Church Deer Park's Elliott Hall (1570 Yonge Street).
For further information on the Beltline project, please visit this site.
Scarborough Rapid Transit: The Real Cost of Changing Tracks Now
I support subways where they make sense and LRTs where they make sense. Last week Metrolinx asked the City of Toronto to reaffirm its commitment to the Master Agreement signed on November 29, 2012 between Metrolinx, the City of Toronto and the TTC with regard to the Scarborough RT line, the Eglinton Crosstown, the Sheppard East line and the Finch West line. We are unfortunately revisiting this issue yet again because Council signalled that it would support converting the Scarborough SRT to a subway even though the current plan is to serve that area with rapid transit in a completely grade-separated right-of-way similar to the Allen Rd. open cut which serves a portion of the Yonge-University-Spadina line (no lane of traffic will be removed).
It is projected that it will cost at least $1 billion for this needless conversion and will likely need a property tax hike along with a raid of the city's reserves. Where is the money going to come from? Are we willing to deny transit to Finch West? Delay the Downtown Relief Subway Line and much-needed state of good repair priorities? Cut more from parks, childcare, the Gardiner or affordable housing?
Please see my preliminary fact sheet regarding the potential conversion of the Scarborough SRT to a subway.
Forest Hill Village Green P Lot
There has been some discussion about the Toronto Parking Authority and the Forest Hill Village BIA's proposals to develop the Green P parking lot at the corner of Thelma Avenue and Spadina Road in the Forest Hill Village. Please see my letter to residents regarding both my position on growth in the Village and my ethical responsibility to recuse myself from this specific matter.
Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground
Thank you to all those who responded so enthusiastically to my suggestion that the playground in June Rowlands Park should be named in honour of the beloved children's entertainment trio (and midtown Toronto residents) Sharon, Lois & Bram. I am currently preparing a formal request to City staff and looking forward to announcing an event including Sharon, Lois & Bram to celebrate the unveiling of the new name in the coming months.
Taking Action on the Roots of Youth Violence
The proposed Toronto Youth Equity Framework was approved unanimously by Toronto's Community Development and Recreation Committee last week. It will now go to City Council's July 16 meeting for final approval. We must work quickly and effectively because we cannot wait for another tragedy to spur more calls for blue ribbon panels and simplistic reactions. This Framework is the first step of a three-stage process to support the most marginalized youth in Toronto who are most likely to be involved in or victimized by violence. It sets out the principles of how the City of Toronto will target the roots of youth violence and how it will organize, over the course of the summer, so that all City departments and community stakeholders are on the same page, working together.
Culture Days will be taking place September 27, 28 and 29. These events promotes culture and arts within different communities across Canada. A resident of Ward 22 and artist-educator, Emma Ates, is showcasing her project "Five Wishes to All Beings". Her mission is to bring contemplative arts and creativity into our community and beyond.
Possible Closure of the Postal Station at 27 St. Clair Avenue East
Avenue Road Construction Update
Work is currently underway to permanently restore and repave the sidewalks and roads on Avenue Road. City staff have advised that this necessary work is the final part of the City's overall construction work on Avenue Road that included the watermain replacement. The delay between projects allowed the ground to settle and to ensure that if there were underground repairs needed in the interim, the newly paved road wouldn't have to be dug up again. I am very aware of the fact that this work is frustrating for local residents and commuters and therefore I will continue to aggressively advocate that the project is undertaken as efficiently and quickly as possible. I've found the level of communication from City staff to residents has been very poor and I have been direct with staff that this is unacceptable. They need to be more informative and more responsive to your inquiries and concerns. For more information please click here. (See new info on Chaplin Cr. work commencing next week).
Condo Living Survey
The City of Toronto is seeking feedback through its Condo Living Survey (Round 2) about condo life issues across our city. Through the survey, the City of Toronto hopes to generate ideas to address condo living challenges. Your feedback is very valuable and can help to improve condo life across Toronto. Please visit this link to complete the survey.
The Dirt (thedirt.co) is a "social real estate platform" designed by real estate developer Brandon G. Donnelly and software engineer Mike Lerner to provide services which engage condo owners and consumers with informative details regarding Toronto condos. Specifically, thedirt.co provides condo reviews from both owners and consumers in conjunction with the most up-to-date news about approvals, sales, construction, occupancy and completion. The system is a basic map schematic which indicates condo buildings that have received reviews by owners and consumers and, in addition, permits users to engage in revision for buildings that have not been reviewed. In addition to the website, thedirt.co can also be linked to Twitter and Facebook accounts for the most updated information. Overall, the service provides free access to condo building reviews and useful guidelines regarding the status of condo buildings in Toronto.
Working in our community
While I more often talk about the broader city and ward wide issues, a lot of the day to day issues that my staff and I work on are often the more immediate local issues that residents encounter on a day to day basis. This includes but is not limited to, both on-street and off-street parking challenges, local traffic issues, local property standards and problem property concerns, questions about getting a building permit, concerns about neighbourhood construction and development sites, road reconstruction, water main repairs, curb cuts and driveway access points, basement flooding, concerns about private and public trees, conditions of public parks and operating hours for city wading pools, helping small businesses, heritage designation proposals, missed garbage pick ups and proposals to beautify public realm spaces including neglected public planters (especially in areas without a BIA) and improving playgrounds, parks and school grounds. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is an example of some of the issues I work on with residents on a day to day basis to support our community.
Update on Committee of Adjustment Issues
In the past few weeks I have been working to support residents concerned with minor variance applications on their street and in their neighbourhood. Recently working with the community we successfully convinced the Committee of Adjustment to refuse an application to sever a property on Oriole Gardens, that clearly did not fit with the existing character of the street. I was very proud to work with some very dedicated member so of the community to help get this decision from the Committee of Adjustment. I understand that the applicant is going to appeal this decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, and I am preparing a motion for the next city council meeting to direct City Planning and Legal staff attend to help defend the Committee of Adjustment's decision.
Earlier this year I had also moved a motion to direct city staff to attend the OMB to defend a Committee of Adjustment decision to refuse an application at Balmoral and Poplar Plains Road. I am happy to report that this decision was recently upheld by the OMB. I would like to also congratulate the local residents, who were not only incredibly well organized, but also were a pleasure to work with.
On other Committee of Adjustment matters, residents have expressed concern about applications at Forest Hill Road and Hillholm Road and another application for a severance at Balmoral Avenue and Warren Road. These were originally scheduled to be heard at the Committee of Adjustment within the past month, but have since been deferred to allow for an opportunity for me to schedule a meeting with local residents and the applicants to try and come to a resolution. I am happy to support the residents in attempting to influence the applicants to revise their applications so they better fit with their respective communities.
I hope to meet with all parties in the coming weeks, with some hopefully revised plans back to the Committee of Adjustment in the fall.
Last week Metrolinx asked the City of Toronto to reaffirm its commitment to the Master Agreement signed on November 29, 2012 between Metrolinx, the City of Toronto and the TTC with regard to the Scarborough RT line, the Eglinton Crosstown, the Sheppard East line and the Finch West line. This Master Agreement has been supported by Toronto City Council. We are unfortunately revisiting this issue yet again because Council signalled that it would support converting the Scarborough SRT to a subway even though the current plan is to serve that area with rapid transit in a completely grade-separated right-of-way similar to the Allen Rd. open cut which serves a portion of the Yonge-University-Spadina line.
As outlined below, it is projected that it will cost at least $1 billion for this needless conversion with no revenue source identified. I was proud to work with my colleagues to challenge the mayor's unfunded subway plan that was based on politics, rather than sound transit planning. I am very disappointed that some of those very same councillors seem to be moving in the same direction. The debate is not between whether Scarborough will get a subway or not. It's about whether Metrolinx will have Toronto's support to finally build new, grade-separated, rapid transit or leave Scarborough residents waiting for the bus.
An SRT conversion to a subway, rather than LRT, is clearly fiscally irresponsible. The City of Toronto would end up paying the bill. In fact, it would be many times more costly than the recent $150 million cut the Mayor is suggesting will cause major budget cuts. Where is the money going to come from? Are we willing to deny transit to Finch West? Delay the Downtown Relief Subway Line and current state of good repair priorities? Cut more funds from parks, childcare, the Gardiner or affordable housing? Council already rejected supporting new transit revenue tools. In reality, there is no funding plan for this latest proposal to change tracks.
Let's stick to the plan we have and finally get it done.
Please see this preliminary fact sheet regarding the potential conversion of the Scarborough SRT to a subway:
- The new LRT will be in a completely grade-separated right-of-way. No traffic lights. No cross streets. Widely spaced stations.
- At an average of 36km per hour It will run faster than the Yonge and Bloor-Danforth lines which average 32km per hour
- The line will have a capacity to carry 16,000 passengers per hour.
- It is anticipated that by 2031 the LRT would carry 8,000 passengers per hour leaving it enough capacity to serve the area for many decades to come- the extra capacity offered by a subway won't come close to being needed
- The LRT would be over two kilometres longer than the subway, have four more stations and is within walking distance to over 20,000 more people- with the possibility to extend the line into Malvern (Centennial College students would not have a stop if the SRT is converted to a subway rather than an LRT)
- The $500 million cost proponents have cited to convert the SRT to a subway is false
- As TTC CEO Andy Byford confirmed at Council in May, the cost of the SRT is $1.8 billion
- The cost of the subway was estimated in a January TTC report (pg 16) at $2.8 billion
- There is already a $1 billion difference before factoring:
- Construction of new terminus for Eglinton Crosstown at Kennedy that was to be part of the Scarborough RT will be $320 million
- $85 million in sunk engineering and design costs
- Property acquisition
- Cancellation of Bombadier contract
- Maintaining the Scarborough RT
- New design work
- Cost efficiencies from using the same technology as on Sheppard and Eglinton
- Significant changes to maintenance and storage facility on Conlins Rd. which has almost finished RFP process
- Possible new Environmental Assessment
- Metrolinx is estimating that the costs of these unknowns would total at least $425 million and likely much more
- The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Maintenance and Servicing Yard closed on May 7th and Metrolinx, with Infrastructure Ontario, is currently in the process of evaluating the bid proposals.
- The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Eglinton Crosstown-Scarborough LRT project closed on May 14
Councillor Josh Matlow
Ward 22, St. Paul's
City of Toronto
Tel: (416) 338-5252
Fax: (416) 392-0124
100 Queen St. W Suite A17
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2N2
I am pleased to share with you the news that the Toronto Youth Equity Framework was approved unanimously by Toronto's Community Development and Recreation Committee this afternoon. It will now go to City Council's July 16 meeting for final approval.
Thank you so much to each of you who invested time and effort to support this important initiative. Your contribution was invaluable whether you visited City Hall and spoke to the committee members today, wrote a letter to your local councillor, or spoke with your friends and colleagues about the importance of taking action to address the roots of youth violence. I also deeply appreciate all the thoughtful insights and advice I received from engaged community members like you.
But this is only the first step and it will take continued, collaborative work to make real progress on this important priority for our City. Please write to the Mayor and your local councillor and urge them to support the Toronto Youth Equity Framework at City Council.
Last week's City Council meeting agenda featured hundreds of items on a wide range of issues including protecting seniors in community housing, funding transit and other infrastructure, electoral reform and alleviating traffic congestion. This week, I've been at several meetings each day and evening on city policy initiatives and local priorities, community consultation meetings and events, along with visiting with residents in every Ward 22 neighbourhood.
I do hope to see you tomorrow at my Community Environment Day (see below for a reminder of the details). As always, please feel very welcome to contact me if I can be of assistance to you.
Reminder: Community Environment Day
On Saturday, June 22nd from 10 am to 2 pm I will be hosting my annual Community Environment Day. The location is the North Toronto Memorial Arena at 174 Orchard View Blvd. Please bring any unwanted art supplies, books, toys, and used sports equipment. Cycle Toronto Midtown will be there to donate your used bikes to the non-profit organization Charlie's Freewheels. Facilities will be available to dispose of computers and other hazardous household waste. You can also replace your damaged green bin.
Naming a Ward 22 Playground to honour the Iconic, Canadian Performance Group, Sharon, Lois and Bram
I am delighted to announce that, with your support, I would like to name the playground inside June Rowlands (Davisville) Park the Sharon, Lois, and Bram Playground after the iconic Canadian children's music trio. As Bram Morrison is a local Ward 22 resident, I can see no better way to honour these Canadian music and television legends than by naming a children's playground after them here in Toronto.
As generations of children have grown up with their music, I ask you for your support in my efforts to name the Sharon, Lois, and Bram Playground in June Rowlands (Davisville) Park.
City Council Highlights
For your review, I have compiled a list of the items debated at Council last week that may be of interest to you. For the full Council Agenda, please click here.
Electoral reform in Toronto
Council adopted several motions on electoral reform in Toronto. The City will ask the Ontario government to amend legislation and allow permanent residents to vote in municipal elections whether or not they are Canadian citizens. This will not apply to provincial or federal elections. The City will also request amendments to the Municipal Elections Act to permit Toronto to use ranked ballots and instant runoff voting in its municipal elections. To learn more about this electoral reform, click here.
Review of ward boundaries
Council authorized a review of Toronto's ward boundaries. At present, there are significant discrepancies in population among wards. Communities like Midtown are experiencing significant population growth due to new condos, leaving an inequitable situation.
The City of Toronto Act gives Council authority to make changes to the ward boundaries. The review, to be conducted by an external consultant, will include consultation with elected officials, stakeholders and the general public.
Managing of traffic congestion
Council passed a motion to improve traffic signal synchronization at City Council. I am pleased that the Mayor and the Chair of Public Works made this a priority in response to my letter of September 2011.
Traffic congestion is a significant problem for Toronto's motorists, public transit users and cyclists. This congestion costs the region's economy an estimated $3.3 billion per year while negatively impacting on the quality of life of our residents. The long-term solution to this problem is building a more accessible, extensive and efficient public transportation system.
In the meantime, we can take significant steps such as this to improve traffic flow in the short-term.
Supporting Local YWCA Women's Shelter
YWCA 1st Stop Woodlawn houses a 56 bed Emergency Shelter for single homeless women as well as 72 units of permanent housing for single women, creating a mixed community of women in various stages of their lives. YWCA 1st Stop Shelter's main purpose is to provide emergency shelter services and supports to homeless women and youth.
I was privileged to provide $45,000 through a motion that directed developer's fees toward the renewal of the shelter's outdoor green space which will provide:
· access to a safe, open meeting space for residents of the shelter and tenant community at 80 Woodlawn Avenue East where they can gather and relax outdoors
· offer an improved environment for social and recreation programming (BBQs, celebrations)
· improve the safety features of the property so that intruders cannot enter the shelter through the back door
This initiative will improve the shelter's mission to provide an environment where homeless women feel safe and secure, finding the strength and support they need to achieve their personal goals.
Seniors and Toronto Community Housing
Council adopted the recommendations of a report documenting the City Ombudsman's troubling investigation into Toronto Community Housing's eviction of seniors on the basis of their rent being in arrears. In addition, my colleagues supported my motions that will help ensure greater protection for vulnerable seniors facing eviction that live in local Toronto Community Housing buildings including Montgomery Place, George Baker Manor, Janet Magee and 900 Mt. Pleasant.
Community arts action plan
Council endorsed the 2013-2017 Community Arts Action Plan for Toronto, which contains recommendations from an external advisory committee to continue efforts to achieve the overall goal of barrier-free arts and cultural opportunities for all in Toronto. The new plan draws upon the previous five-year community arts action plan and related work on behalf of community arts.
Funding Toronto's transit and infrastructure
Council supported my motion to research the use of various kinds of municipal bonds that could be used to reduce the cost of servicing municipal debt and increase a city's ability to build and maintain its infrastructure. Governments in other jurisdictions, including the United States, have reduced interest rates and the cost of carrying municipal debt by implementing various tax breaks or rebates.
Taking Action on the Roots of Youth Violence
Please see my most recent update on this important initiative here and how you can be of support.
Eglinton Connects Planning Study
Eglinton Connects is a comprehensive planning study, led by the City Planning division, that is developing a vision for the future of Eglinton Avenue through public consultation, analysis of existing conditions/context and future growth, and interdivisional collaboration. The group presented their interim report to Planning and Growth Committee yesterday
Eglinton Connects incorporates:
· An Avenue study, including a vision for Eglinton Avenue that will guide decisions about private development and public investment. The Study identifies
o options for reallocating space between different modes of transportation
o potential for intensified development in the form of mid-rise buildings
o locations that could support higher density development
o heritage resources and strategies for protection of these resources
o public realm and streetscape plan
· A Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) that will make recommendations regarding the reconfiguration of the right-of-way along the portion of Eglinton Avenue where the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is underground (Black Creek Drive to Brentcliffe Road); and
· Site Plan review of the LRT stations and at-grade section as submitted by Metrolinx
Bits & Bites on Bayview
The Toronto Leaside Rotary Club and the merchants of South Bayview will be hosting the first Bits & Bites on Bayview Street Festival today from 4:30 to 7:30 pm, and tomorrow, Saturday, June 22nd, from 12:30 to 7:30 pm. Experience the food and boutiques of South Bayview (from Soudan Ave./Parkhurst Blvd. to Davisville Ave.) while enjoying live music and entertainment. Proceeds are going to a new fund to assist those in need in our community through the Rotary Cares-A-Community Fund. For more information, please visit http://www.bayviewbitsandbites.com/.
Say NO to Excessive Aviation Noise
The Toronto Aviation Noise Group (T.A.N.G.) has asked me to share the following with you:
T.A.N.G is working in Ward 22 to stop the excessive aviation noise stemming from the new concentrated flight path that takes planes right over our communities and neighbourhoods. A T.A.N.G. representative may knock on your door requesting all adults in the home to please sign the petition.
To bring peace and quiet back to areas affected by this noise, you can sign an online petition. You can also contact the GTAA by calling 416-247-7682 or register a complaint. Lastly, you can write to our local MP Dr. Carolyn Bennett and show your objection. Together, we can work to make our voice heard over the roar of jet planes!
Northern Secondary School's Northern Lakes Landscape Project
I am proud to support this wonderful project. Northern Secondary School is currently fundraising for its Northern Lakes Landscape Project, which will connect our school community to the once vibrant Walmsley Brook and its natural ecosystems. This project envisions recreating a dry river bed with trees, rock seating areas, planting and flagstone paths. If you are interested in donating to the project, please visit http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=27115.
As I mentioned to you in my previous update, my motion to return some common sense to the rules regulating moped and scooter parking was sent to the chair and members of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee and Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, a member of that committee, was prepared to move it on my behalf at their meeting today. However, the committee chair, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, decided that he was not interested in considering the item today and adjourned the meeting before Councillor Berardinetti had an opportunity to present it.
I will not allow petty politics to prevent us from doing the right thing. Therefore, I intend to bring my motion to the July meeting of City Council to direct the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee to consider this item. Unfortunately, because the summer is upon us and due to Councillor Minnan-Wong's actions, our motion will not be able to be debated by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee until their next meeting in September.
No matter where you live in Toronto, I encourage you to contact your local Councillor and the mayor in support of this initiative. As we get closer to the July meeting of City Council, I will follow up with you to ensure that you continue to be informed.
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