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Welcome

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 councillor_matlow@toronto.ca.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Josh

Latest Videos

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.

Demanding Transparency, Accountability and Honest Action on Transit Planning: Scarborough Subway and SmartTrack

 

This week, Council will vote on items that will impact billions of your tax dollars, the future of our city's transit system, accountability in our local government and our quality of life- including questions relating to Mayor Tory's SmartTrack proposal and our request for an independent judicial inquiry into the Scarborough Subway Extension.

I've prepared the following missive for you to ensure that you have an opportunity to be informed about, and engaged in, these important decisions before Council votes on them over the coming days.

Transit planning in Toronto is dysfunctional.

Our city now specializes in building transit that serves the fewest number of people for the largest amount of money. Our existing system is overcrowded. The Spadina Extension and the Sheppard subway have monopolized scarce resources, leaving most residents of Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke with long bus rides before being able to access rapid transit. These bloated projects are plagued by low ridership, requiring significant subsidies.

The last week has been marked by revelations in the Toronto Star that critical information regarding the Scarborough Subway and SmartTrack was, respectively, misleading and "adjusted". In an article released last week, it was exposed that City Staff told Council and residents that a subway project practically drawn on the back of a napkin (see fig. 1) was as far along as the LRT plan that was supported by a 300-page environmental assessment.



fig. 1                                                  

Another piece just released in the Star today shows that City staff changed modelling to adjust numbers to boost case for the Lawrence East SmartTrack station at the urging of Metrolinx.


Enough is enough.

I have brought forward a Member's Motion (see Attachment 1 for full text) to tomorrow's meeting of City Council requesting a Judicial Inquiry into the 1-Stop Scarborough Subway. I have also submitted questions to Staff for clarification through an Administrative Inquiry on some of the issues cited in the Judicial Inquiry motion.

It is unacceptable that critical information presented to Council by Staff regarding the Scarborough Subway in Staff Reports, briefing notes, and on the floor of Council appears was at times inaccurate, misleading, or incomplete. This is deeply troubling given that a decision on a multi-billion dollar infrastructure project was based on the information provided.

Today's news regarding SmartTrack unfortunately suggests that we need to shine a light on transit planning as a whole in Toronto.

The last time the City established a Judicial Inquiry, it was in regards to the MFP computer leasing scandal. The Bellamy Report resulting from that inquiry led to the establishment of our 3 accountability officers and other measures to safeguard the City's contracting process. Torontonians deserve the same type of assurances that decisions affecting billions of their tax dollars are spent on transit projects that use our scarce resources to support the most residents possible in getting to work or school and back, quickly and comfortably, so they can have more time with their friends and family.

SmartTrack Concerns

This week, Council will decide whether to approve Mayor Tory’s revised SmartTrack plan as Toronto’s top transit priority. As I’ve written previously, I commend Mayor Tory for accepting that the Western Spur (new heavy rail line to the airport) portion of his plan is unworkable. As your councillor, the question I’m considering now is whether or not the plan as presented this week is well thought out, reflects Toronto residents’ priorities for transit, has a transparent financing plan and is worth a large investment of your money.

The Plan

SmartTrack is based on the Province's GO Regional Electrified Rail (RER) plan, which entails electrifying existing GO tracks. This infrastructure will facilitate new trains that.
As depicted in the map below, the province is already providing a number of stations in Toronto. The new SmartTrack plan consists of 6 additional stations at St. Clair West, Liberty Village, East Harbour (Unilever site), Gerrard, Lawrence East and Finch East. The cost of the 6 additional RER stations is estimated to be $1.463B. In lieu of the "Western Spur", a heavy rail addition Mayor Tory promised during the campaign, the Mayor promised a western extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (this was part of the earlier “Transit City” Plan). This portion of SmartTrack has been delayed.

Go RER/SmartTrack Map

While I support the concept of better utilizing existing GO lines to serve Toronto’s transit needs, there is simply not enough information in the staff report provided to Council to determine whether these 6 stations are a good investment. I can guess that the Unilever and Liberty Village stations make sense based on the expected and existing density, respectively, of each location but the report before Council tomorrow does not provide clear information on basic attributes of SmartTrack including how often the trains will run or the cost of individual stations. The latter omission makes it impossible to assess whether each station provides good value for your money. Further, as outlined below, there are major questions regarding overall transit priorities, the funding mechanism, and the data used for revenue and ridership projections.
No reasonable person should be expected to make a decision on a public infrastructure project for over $1 billion dollars with this little information.

Network Approach?

Also absent from this report is any context regarding where these lines fit into Toronto’s transit network. The City’s Planning Division spent years developing the Feeling Congested framework to assess the utility of transit projects.


Top 5 Performing Rapid Transit Projects
A.   Relief Line (subway)
E.   Don Mills LRT
N.   Scarborough Malvern LRT
R.   Waterfront West LRT
V.   Waterfront East LRT

Next 5 Top Performing Rapid Transit Projects

C.   Durham-Scarborough BRT
F.    Eglinton LRT West Extension
K.   Jane LRT
P.    Steeles LRT/BRT West
W.   Relief Line East Extension
(Source: City Planning)

The above map shows the rankings of proposed transit lines using City Planning’s evaluation criteria. If Staff are, in effect, recommending that SmartTrack be built ahead of other projects that were deemed to perform better, such as the Relief Line, some explanation needs to be provided.

Financing
Equally concerning is Tax Increment Financing, one of the financing mechanisms recommended to pay for SmartTrack.

$M, YOE$

Required City Contribution

1,463

 

Less Expected Federal Funding @ 40% of Contribution

(585)

 

Required City Net Funding Contribution (anticipated in 2025)

878

 

 

 

Total, $M (2025)

Estimated Debt Financing Charge (30-year debt in 2025)

53


1,590

Average Annual Debt Service Offset:

 

 

Development Charges

17.4

522

Net Tax Incremental Financing Revenues (net of IMIT grants)

17.5

525

City Building Fund/ Tax Supported Requirement

18.2

546

SmartTrack Stations Program Required Funding Summary

During the 2014 Mayoral campaign, John Tory pledged to fund the City's contribution toward SmartTrack entirely through a mechanism never before used in Ontario called Tax Increment Financing(TIF). As the chart above shows, TIF is now required to fund roughly a third of the project - $525 million in 2025 dollars including financing costs.

As this Hemson report assessing the SmartTrack funding strategy stated: "TIF is not a revenue source in itself, rather it a method of dedicating a share of taxation revenue received in a given area to a specific purpose". Depicted in the chart below, under a TIF, infrastructure is funded by capturing property tax revenue in the area surrounding the new asset that presumably wouldn’t have been created without the initial investment.

 



Professor Kevin Ward, Dept of Geography, University of Manchester

A public investment in a new stadium on a greenfield site (for example, the Canadian Tire Centre where the Senators play in Kanata outside Ottawa) is a classic example of how, if employed, a TIF might have had merit. In this example, a TIF may be a reasonable funding tool as any new restaurants, hotels, or souvenir stores in close proximity could reasonably be attributed to the stadium. The idea is that, over time, the government recoups its investment from the new property tax revenue at no cost to municipal ratepayers. As well, the municipal services required in the area could be minimal if it is largely commercial.

 



Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ontario

Using a TIF to fund SmartTrack, however, is deeply problematic.

To start, as shown in the map below, the City proposes the establishment of TIF zones around all 14 stations built as part of the GO RER network, not just the 6 SmartTrack stations. That means that the City proposes to capture property taxes from new development to pay for SmartTrack from areas in which growth cannot be attributed to SmartTrack.



SmartTrack Tax Increment Zones

A Report by Strategic Regional Research Associates (SRRA), forecasted that the majority of the growth attributed to SmartTrack would occur in the close to downtown, such as the Unilever site and Liberty Village. In these high growth areas, it is dubious to attribute new development to the introduction of a station. Liberty Village, for example has no problem attracting growth, is almost built out in the residential section, and much of the employment-designated area in the western portion has heritage protection which limits development opportunities. In fact, SSRA modelled growth based on 12 storey office buildings in this section of Liberty Village despite a cap on height almost half that number.

The residents of Liberty Village desperately need new transit because of the density that already exists. To suggest that significant new growth will occur as a result of that needed transit does not match up with the reality on the ground.


Liberty Village

SSRA's commercial office projections, which formed the backbone for the TIF projections, were peer reviewed by Cushman & Wakefield as well as Ernst & Young. Both firms raised serious concerns about the impacts on TIF revenue resulting from the assumptions and data that SSRA used.

As Ernst & Young points out, SSRA states that they used the Provincial Growth Plan as the basis for their macro growth projections for Toronto. The SSRA report was completed in 2015. While the Plan was updated in 2017, it obviously wouldn't have been available in 2015. The most up-to-date Plan would have been done in 2006.

The SSRA report also does not factor in the time elapsed between the report completion date (2015) and the year in which the City starts collecting TIF revenues (2019). This means that developments already underway or approved in between those years would be part of the 2019 base year and could no longer be collected under TIF. The discrepancy could result in inflated revenue projections.

Cushman & Wakefield and Ernst & Young both warned against SSRA's assumption about how much office space each worker will be afforded in new developments in making their office space projections. Despite the market trending toward denser work environments, SSRA used an average of current urban and suburban office spaces, resulting in an assumption of 209 sq. ft. per office worker as shown in the "Base Case" below.



The base case projection for development projects a yield of $1.454B, $1.567B, $1.791B under, respectively, low, medium, and high growth scenarios. Ernst and Young performed several sensitivity tests for TIF yields. In the chart below, the firm has lowered the anticipated office space to 150 sq. ft. per worker to be more in line with expected market demand. As shown below, this one adjustment results in yields that are 8-9% lower across the growth scenarios which would result in a shortfall requiring property taxes of $115.8M, $143.5M, and, $143.1M, respectively, from low to high growth scenarios.





This review by Ernst & Young was not attached to the Staff report. The City's Staff Report on the financing strategy does not provide any detail on the funding risks cited in the review. 

The only project of a similar scope to be financed using TIF, at least in part, is the $3-billion Hudson Yards project in Manhattan, which includes a subway extension and other infrastructure. According to a May 2016 report released by New York City’s Independent Budget Office, expected development has fallen far short of projections, leaving a shortfall of more than $141 million to be borne by taxpayers.

report on the use of TIFs in Chicago by the Cook County Assessor’s Office found that the financing tool was ineffective:
“Despite the extensive use of TIFs in Chicago there is little empirical evidence of the effectiveness of TIFs in promoting economic growth, while there is some indication that they benefit disproportionately from already occurring growth.”

TIFs strike me as basically a shell game played with City revenues, and it will be residents left footing the bill if Mayor Tory loses this gamble.

Service Frequency
In the main section of the City Staff report, the map below depicts service frequencies for SmartTrack/GO RER.


Service Frequency

The chart below shows Metrolinx's service levels.



The figures in the two charts appear to be the same except for Lawrence East Station in Scarborough. The City states that 7 trains will run every hour, or one train every 8.6 minutes while the Metrolinx chart states that only 4 trains will run every hour, or one train every 15 minutes. It is important to note again that SmartTrack is simply 6 additional station to Metrolinx's GO RER plan. Metrolinx will run the trains and determine service frequency.

The service frequency discrepancy puts other elements of the City's case for SmartTrack into question. The most obvious impact of fewer trains would be a significant drop in ridership. Fewer users could have several ancillary impacts, including lower fare revenue and lower than projected development potential around stations which would further jeopardize TIF revenues.

The Staff report backed up their service frequency claim by citing previous Staff City reports, which are not relevant.

I share Toronto residents’ frustration about the lack of progress on public transit over many decades. Far too often, politics has come before people when it comes to transit planning and the decisions made. I want our city to focus on relieving the existing overcrowding on our subway, bus and streetcar lines and expand our rapid transit network to truly connect Toronto's neighbourhoods.

Ultimately, many residents will continue to be reliant on their cars until we finally have a transit system that is accessible, affordable and actually gets people where they need to go.

On your behalf, I will continue to advocate that we move forward now on building transit that’s based on evidence and focused on Toronto’s real and pressing needs.





M#

NOTICE OF MOTION

Accountability and Transparency in Transit Planning: Authorizing a Judicial Inquiry into Information Provided to Councillors Regarding the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Scarborough Light Rail Line at the July 2016 Meeting of Council


Moved by:


Councillor Matlow

 


Seconded by:


Councillor Wong-Tam

 


SUMMARY:

Briefing Note

1. On July 4, 2016, a briefing note produced by the TTC appeared on CP24 regarding the possibility of moving forward with the SLRT. The contents of the briefing note were cited numerous times by Staff and Councillors during the Council meeting of July 12, 2016.

2. Against Council procedure, the TTC only shared the note with the office of the Mayor and the TTC Chair. 

3. The Briefing note did not say that the SLRT was a project of Metrolinx, nor did it say that Metrolinx would be responsible for the cost of the SLRT as per the still in force Master Agreement.

5. The Briefing note incorrectly inflated the cost of the SLRT by assuming that the start of construction would have to wait until work on the Eglinton Crosstown was completed at Kennedy. However, an April 25, 2012 Metrolinx Board Report states that Metrolinx was explicitly planning to start at the north end of the line first to speed up construction time.

6. The TTC stated that they believed that construction required for the SLRT at Kennedy Station was the "critical path" of the project, meaning that the construction would take longer at Kennedy then the rest of the other construction elements. The TTC did not check this information with Metrolinx.

7. The same 2012 Metrolinx Board Report, states that, at the time, the Eglinton Crosstown was expected to be completed in 2020 and the SLRT's completion date was 2019. These construction timelines required that work occur simultaneously at Kennedy Station to facilitate both projects.

8. Further, Par. 90 of the Auditor General's (AG) report on the briefing note states that the AG contacted Metrolinx staff during their investigative process to determine if changes could have been made to accommodate starting the build of an SLRT at Kennedy Station. Metrolinx advised that:
“There would have been many critical path items on the project (e.g. tunneling, stations), therefore it is not accurate to say that it was a major element on the project. The Kennedy Station was designed to accommodate an extension into Scarborough. If the City decided to proceed with LRT the design would need to be modified. The design was in early stages in 2016, and this likely could have been accommodated.”

9. Par. 100 of the AG's Report states that Bruce McQuaig, former Metrolinx CEO, emails the Andy Byford, former TTC CEO, on June 29 to ask him how the TTC arrived at the $3B cost estimate for the SLRT.

  • Mr. McQuaig tells Mr. Byford that the starting figure of $1.8B should be reduced by $320M. Despite the individual responsible for the SLRT telling Mr. Byford that he was incorrect, Mr. Byford did not change the cost estimate to reflect this information despite ample opportunity.
  • He didn't issue a correction when the briefing note was leaked to CP24.
  • He didn’t change the figure when a revised copy of the note to the Mayor's office almost a week later

10. There was no balancing information regarding the SLRT in the briefing note. An objective analysis of the SLRT should have included, at a minimum, information stating that:

  • capital costs would be borne by Metrolinx
  • provides more stops for a lower cost
  • serves more priority neighbourhoods
  • Could be built faster
  • More advanced stage of design than the subway
  • Would be in its own corridor and capable of travelling at the same top speed as a subway

Misleading SSE Completion Timeline

11. The chart below from the July 2016 SSE Staff Report states that the construction completion date (2025) is contingent upon Council choosing an alignment at that meeting in the third bullet underneath the chart



12. The recommendation regarding the SSE before Council at the July 2016 meeting was: “3.  City Council request the City Manager and the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Transit Commission to remove from consideration the 3-stop McCowan Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) and continue to develop an SSE Express option, by conducting the following:
a.  retaining the services of a third-party rail transit construction and cost –estimation expert to undertake a risk assessment and detailed review of the TTC's 5 percent design cost estimates for the McCowan corridor and other possible express subway alignment options”

13. The Staff Report presented a completion date and cost that assumed a choice not even available to Council. The recommendation regarding the subway does not provide the option to choose an alignment. The March 2017 SSE Staff Report states that the line will now be completed in mid 2026.

Design Completion

14. During the Questions to Staff portion of the debate on EX 16.1 Developing Toronto's Transit Network Plan to 2031 at the July 12, 2016 Council meeting, Councillor Colle asks the Chief Project Manager for the Scarborough Subway Extension a question regarding the design completion status of the project
Councillor Colle: "And where would the subway be at design percentage of design completion? Around 5 (per cent) I think I've heard?"

Chief Project Manager: "Uh, we're currently at about 5 per cent, yes."

15. The Chief Project Manager's answer is reinforced by the same chart provided in '11' from the Staff Report which states that the cost estimate provided was "developed at approximately 5% design": 



16. These statements from City Staff contradict information provided by consultants after the July meeting.

17. In its TTC Estimate Peer Review of the SSE dated November 4, 2016, Hanscomb provided the chart below which shows the documentation that they used to base their peer review of the TTC's work. Hanscomb notes that they were careful to base their review on the same documentation that the TTC used.



18. The chart indicates that all of the documents were dated after the July 12, 2016 Council meeting except "Technical Memo + sketches 1-22" which relate only to the design of the station. Despite the name, the document only contains 3 sketches. All are hand-drawn.

19. Hanscomb's report states that the SSE was at 2-5% design with all of the documents that were received. That statement conflicts with the statements from City and TTC Staff cited above that the subway was at 5% at the July 12 Council meeting given that the single completed document at that time was related to the design of the station only.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1. City Council authorize the City Clerk to establish a judicial inquiry, similar to the Toronto Computer Leasing Inquiry presided over by Justice Bellamy, to investigate the information provided to Council regarding the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Scarborough Light Rail Transit project in the lead-up to, and at, the July 2016 meeting of Council.

 

 

 


 

RESCHEDULED MEETING: 1951 Yonge Street

RESCHEDULED MEETING: 1951 Yonge Street

It has come to my attention that the scheduled date of Monday April 23, 2018 to discuss the Times Group proposal at 1951 Yonge conflicts with a school meeting about future plans for students at Davisville Public School. In response to a significant number of emails and phone calls from residents concerned that they will be unable to have their voice heard on this development proposal, I have worked with City Planning to change the date of the meeting to Thursday May 10, 2018. I hope this change will ensure that many more members of our community are able to attend this important meeting.

   

City Hall and Community Update for April 6, 2018

Fighting Back Against Overdevelopment and Advocating For Social Services and Infrastructure- Have Your Say On the Times Group Proposal for 1951 Yonge Street

Last year, an application was submitted for two towers (34 and 25 storeys) at the northeast corner of Yonge and Davisville. In their report, City Planning Staff agree with me and the local community that the proposal from the Times Group is completely inappropriate, as it's a significant overdevelopment of the site. As it is currently proposed, the two towers would have unacceptable shadow impacts on the Davisville school field. Of further concern, is the potential traffic impacts to the local community, especially the area surrounding the school. I will fight the most recent proposal to add more traffic onto Millwood.

I am pleased to report that I was successful in moving significant motions to support our community against this development at this week's Toronto & East York Community Council meeting. In addition to ensuring that City Legal and Planning Staff will fight for us at the Ontario Municipal Board, I was able to have additional amendments added that, for the first time, requested that even if a development is approved, that the OMB order construction be halted until the necessary infrastructure and social services are provided:

  • City Council direct the City Solicitor to request the Ontario Municipal Board to withhold the issuance of any order(s) on the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment appeal for the subject lands pending confirmation of:
    - necessary transportation infrastructure from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the General Manager, Transportation Services; and
    - public school capacity from the Director of Education, TDSB
  • City Council direct the City Solicitor to request the Ontario Municipal Board to withhold the issuance of any Order(s) on the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment appeal for the subject lands pending confirmation of water, sanitary and storm water capacity from the Chief Engineer and Executive Director, Engineering and Construction Services, and pending receipt of a satisfactory Functional Servicing Report;


These motions were possible, and supported at Community Council, because of the extensive research that has been conducted as part of the Midtown in Focus initiative that has clearly demonstrated what we in Midtown already know: infrastructure and social services have not kept pace with the rapid rate of growth in our community.

The importance of these motions was recognized by the Toronto Star, which published two articles on successive days about this issue. Please see this article on the water capacity motion and this article regarding schools and transportation.

Please Save the Date on Monday, April 23rd at 6:30-8:30PM for a community meeting to discuss how we're fighting this proposal and demanding significant improvements. I'll send an update on the location when it is confirmed.


Toronto Needs a Long-Term Financial Strategy

It is standard practice for full City Council to have an opportunity to debate matters of strategic policy concerning the entire city at various stages in the process. That's why I was very surprised that only the Executive Committee was provided an opportunity to debate, and provide input on, Toronto's Long-Term Financial Strategy. The Mayor's excuse was that it was not a fully developed plan. But it is precisely at this point where full Council should weigh-in and provide direction to staff going forward that is supported by elected officials before investing further time and money.

This seemed unusual, so I looked back through some past Executive Agendas for similar matters of city-wide interest. A cursory look found several equivalent update reports that have indeed come to full Council, including Ex 29.1 - Smart Track Project Update and Next Steps and EX 29.2 - Rail Deck Park - Results of Feasibility Analysis and Next Steps for Implementation. Both items were interim reports seeking Council direction to follow a particular strategic path. Both items were considered by full Council after being presented to Executive Committee. These are just two examples of many.

As your representative at City Hall, I have a duty to represent you on issues that affect the future of our city. In this instance, my opportunity to carry out that duty was denied. If provided that opportunity, I would have stated, on your behalf, that we cannot continue to keep kicking the can down the road in regards to major decisions affecting Toronto's fiscal sustainability. As Staff clearly stated in the report, Toronto will face a $1.42B operating gap in 5 years if we continue on our current course.

We find ourselves in this position because we are making decisions that no other major world city is making. Under this Mayor, Toronto is spending over a $1 billion dollars to rebuild an elevated expressway, and well over $3 billion one subway stop. Further, the Mayor has made these decisions while actively working to not have evidence-based analysis conducted to inform those decisions.

In his report, the City Manager agreed with my previous motions to have Council conduct value for money audits and rank capital projects based on recognized urban planning principles.

We cannot wait any longer to put our city on a solid fiscal path. If the Mayor won't provide that leadership, Council should have had the opportunity to do it for him.

For more information on this issue, please see the second half of this article.

REimagine Yonge

Yonge Street between Sheppard and the Finch St corridor is at the end of its lifecycle - the roadway was last reconstructed in 1975. Last week, Council debated what this section of Yonge will look like for generations to come. Yonge Street is the central transportation corridor and pedestrian promenade within North York Centre, one of four centres that have an important role in achieving the provincial growth objectives of the Official Plan where jobs, housing, and services will be concentrated. While the North York Centre is transforming into a transit-oriented and dynamic mixed-use area, the implementation of the street vision has not been fully achieved or kept pace with this evolution. Inconsistent urban design features, including sidewalks, crossings, and medians, and the lack of dedicated cycling facilities reduce the appeal of the street and present safety risks.
Staff recommended a number of opportunities that would both improve the streetscape and align the plans with Vision Zero road safety policies, including:
  • improving streetscape by including street trees, lighting, paving, and street furniture
  • expanding sidewalks and boulevard widths
  • integrating adjacent parks and public open spaces
  • enhancing the landscaped median
  • improving safety for all users
  • including cycling facilities on Yonge Street
  • improving pedestrian crossing facilities
  • re-configuring right-of-way and traffic lanes


Despite Staff recommendations and overwhelming support from urban experts and city leaders including former Mayor David Crombie and renowned urban planner Ken Greenberg, Mayor Tory supported a more costly option to put bike lanes on neighbouring Beecroft and keep Yonge as a 6-lane thoroughfare.

Thankfully, the vote on this item was deferred until the next term of Council where I hope a more thoughtful approach will be taken.

For more information, please see this Toronto Star article.

To see my speech supporting REImagine Yonge and Vision Zero Road Safety- please start at 1:06.

We Need Relief (Subway Line) Now!

As any resident who rides the subway knows, the Yonge Line is already at capacity. During rush hour at stations like Eglinton, it is common to wait for two or three trains before boarding and once on, you’re crammed in like a sardine.

The overcrowding is most critical at Bloor-Yonge station, which is already nearing capacity, with another 45% increase in users expected over the next twenty years. Even with signal improvements and the new, larger trains, we can’t keep ahead of this growth without expansion elsewhere to alleviate the pressure. That's why the Relief Line was named as Toronto's top transit expansion priority by former Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, TTC CEO Andy Byford,  Toronto's Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and City Manager Joe Pennachetti .

City Council has unfortunately featured transit debates long on rhetoric and short on facts. The Relief Subway Line would provide an alternative to our existing subway system that’s already overcrowded during rush hours, curb gridlock on our city’s streets and increase access to jobs and attractions. It is the evidence-based subway expansion project that would be an integral part of a comprehensive network approach that would most improve Toronto’s economy and residents’ quality of life.

For more information and how to take action, please visit this webpage.


Standing up for Tenants

Rental Market Reality

As many of you know, there is a rental housing crisis in Toronto. Vacancy rates have been hovering around 1% in the past year and very few of the limited apartments available are affordable. That’s why I asked City Planning Staff to bring a report on current rental housing market conditions in Toronto. Planning Staff presented Council with a snapshot of the current housing situation that was even worse than most people feared. In fact, as the chart below demonstrates, purpose-built apartment rents increased the most in 15 years and vacancy rates reached the lowest in 16 years.


Transparency called on for Above the Guideline Increases

As many of you know, I have been requesting that the Ontario government eliminate or drastically reform Above the Guideline rent Increases (AGI). While the province's The Rental Fairness Act, 2017, improved tenant protections under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) by eliminating the post-1991 exemption and expanding rent control to all private units, the legislation only removed extraordinary increases in utilities from costs that qualify for above the guideline rent increases.

The RTA still allows private market landlords to apply for a rent increase above the guideline (AGI) if:

  • The landlord did extraordinary or significant renovations, repairs, replacements or new additions to the buildings or to individual units; and
  • The landlord's costs for security services increased, or the landlord began providing security services for the first time

These items should be the basic cost of a landlord's business and should already be covered in the substantial rent tenants pay. To make matters worse, AGI applications made at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) have very limited publicly available data, hindering the City's ability to analyze the impact of AGIs on tenants. A clearer understanding of the scale and scope of AGIs in Toronto would allow the City to better develop programs and policies to meet the needs of residents. That's why I'm pleased to report that my colleagues unanimously passed my motionrequesting the province to publicly release AGI data.


It's Official – Names Approved for Our New Community Parks!

I'm excited to announce that City Council supported our community recommendation to support the naming of our two new parks that are ready to enjoy this spring! Our new park at the former Glebe Manor Bowling club site will be named “Manor Community Green”, and our new park at Manor and Forman will be called “Cudmore Creek Park & Mona Piper Playground”. You can read more about the outcome of the survey and community parks naming process here

Please stay tuned for my "Save the Date" announcement for upcoming park opening celebrations and festivities!

Congratulations Toronto for Being Age-Friendly!

As Toronto's Seniors Advocate, I am delighted to inform you that at the inaugural Age-Friendly Community (AFC) Symposium on March 26th, 2018, the City of Toronto was selected to receive the 2018 Ontario Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award. This Award has been established to celebrate the work of Ontario communities that are striving to become age-friendly and to showcase promising practices across the province. I welcome you to come and check-out the award at City Hall!


SAVE THE DATE: Councillor Josh Matlow's Community Environment Day

On Thursday, May 31st from 4:00-8:00pm, I will be hosting my annual Community Environment Day. The event will take place in the parking lot of North Toronto Memorial Arena (174 Orchard View Blvd). Please drop off any unwanted art supplies, books, toys, and used sports equipment. Facilities will be available to dispose of computers and other hazardous household waste, or even replace your damaged green bin.

Manor Road Co-Op Nursery Turns 80

Manor Road Co-op Nursery School is celebrating its 80th anniversary! Past, present and future families of the school are invited to attend this event. There will be a bouncy castle, crafts, refreshments, tours and a silent auction. Please drop-in between 3:00 and 6:00pm on Saturday April 28th. 111 Manor Rd E (inside the Church of the Transfiguration). For further details please click here. Hope to see you there!

Forest Hill Art Club: 2018 Art Show & Sale

The Forest Hill Art Club (FHAC) invites you to attend their annual art show and sale of member's work from April 27th- 29th at 666 Eglinton Avenue West. The FHAC is closing in on seventy years of providing a space to artists, both amateur and professional who work in a variety of media. For more details, I welcome you to check-out the following webpage.

Bayview Leaside BIA: Public Consultation Meeting & Earth Day Community Clean-up

I welcome you to join the Bayview Leaside BIA team on Tuesday April, 10th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at The Smokin' Cigar (1540 Bayview Avenue), for a public consultation meeting on the Bayview and Millwood Parkette. View the plan, ask questions about the proposed changes and meet our Bayview Leaside BIA team!

Remember to mark your calendars on Saturday April 21st from 9:00am to 12:00pm to attend the Bayview Leaside BIA's Earth Day community clean-up. Rain or shine, I hope to see you at the corner of Bayview and Millwood ready to sweep our streets! Don't forget to bring your own broom! More information on this event can be found here.

Community Clean-Up Days

Spring has finally arrived (at least on the calendar) and it's time to give Toronto a good spring cleaning together! April 20, 21 and 22 are this year's Community Clean-Up Days for schools, businesses, and neighbourhood organizations. You're invited to visit Live Green Toronto to register your local clean-up or to join an existing clean-up.

Please call my office at 416-392-7906 or email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and I can provide you with free bags for trash and recyclables. I would also be delighted to join you and help clean-up your corner of the community- just let me know the time and location! And of course, please feel welcome to contact me if you need any assistance with organizing your own clean-up event.


SAVE THE DATE: Toronto Council on Aging's Town Hall Meeting

The Toronto Council on Aging and I invite you to attend our town hall meeting taking place on Wednesday May 9th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church (1985 Yonge Street) to celebrate the age-friendly approaches our local businesses are incorporating in their storefronts. Stay tuned for more details to come!


Have your Say: Consultation on the Toronto Local Appeal Body (TLAB)

TLAB is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that was created last year to replace the Ontario Municipal Board's (OMB) jurisdiction over the adjudication of typically smaller scale land-use planning disputes that are heard through the Committee of Adjustment. The City is seeking your feedback on this newly formed local appeals body by either providing written submissions or attending a public consultation meeting.

The  meeting will take place between 2pm-5pm on Wednesday, April 18th at the Scarborough Civic Centre (150 Borough Drive) in the Council Chambers. Alternately, written submission can be sent via email, fax or by mail. Written submissions without an accompanying oral presentation will receive the same serious consideration as those accompanied by an oral presentation. To make an oral and written submission, a registration form and written submission can be sent by email, fax or by mail to:

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Fax: 416-696-4307
Mail: Toronto Local Appeal Body
40 Orchard View Boulevard, Suite 211
Toronto Ontario M4B 1R9

All submissions must be received by the Toronto Local Appeal Body no later than Friday, April 6, 2018. For more information on TLAB and its processes, you can access the public guide here.


Yorkminster Park Meals on Wheels

Yorkminster Park Meals on Wheels is a not-for-profit charity that has served the North Toronto Community for 51 years. Located in the Yonge and St. Clair community at Yorkminster Baptist Church, this volunteer-run charity delivers hot and frozen meals to seniors or adults who are chronically ill, have a disability, convalescing from surgery or illness, or undergoing medical treatment. If you or someone you know would benefit from receiving Meals on Wheels, please call their office at 416-482-0549.


PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: 265 Balliol Avenue Public Meeting

A rezoning application has been submitted to City Planning to construct a 29-Storey residential tower containing 264 purpose-built rental units. This is an infill application on a site with an existing 26-storey residential building. You can view a copy of the preliminary report here

Please join me at 6:30pm on Tuesday, April 10 at Greenwood College  (443 Mount Pleasant Road), for a meeting to discuss the proposed development. City Planning staff will be in attendance to answer any questions you may have.

PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: New Public Space for Cottingham Square

A community meeting will be held about improving the closed-off road allowance between Gange Avenue and Cottingham Street (on the south side of Cottingham Park).

This space will continue to be closed, to prevent traffic from going through the neighbourhood, but we do have an opportunity to make significant improvements to its aesthetics and purpose. I want to ensure that your feedback and ideas are heard before any plans move forward.

Please join me and Cottingham Square Community Association in a conversation with your neighbours at 7pm on Wednesday, April 11th at Trust Daycare (29 Birch Avenue). Representatives from the City’s Public Realm department will be in attendance to answer any questions you may have.

City of Toronto Fair Pass Discount Program

Effective April 4th, the City of Toronto is offering the Fair Pass Discount Program to residents receiving Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) assistance who are not in receipt of any transportation supports equal to or greater than $100.

The Fair Pass Discount Program is only available on a PRESTO card (clients must meet eligibility requirements). Cardholders must load money or an adult TTC Monthly Pass on their card to take advantage of the Fair Pass Discount Program. For more information about the Fair Pass Discount Program please click here.


Public Consultation on the Noise Mitigation Initiatives Engagement Plan

Toronto Pearson is fast becoming one of the world’s leading airports. As we meet the demand for air travel, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) and NAV CANADA  have been studying Six Ideas that are aimed at reducing noise impacts for residents around the Greater Toronto Area. The technical analysis of the Six Ideas is now complete, and the GTAA and NAV CANADA will be meeting with the community to present recommendations. Public consultations will run from March 3rd to April 20th with 15 sessions being held in communities surrounding the airport. The locations and dates for the community consultations can be found on the Toronto Pearson website.


Toronto's 4th Street Needs Assessment Seeks Volunteers

For the fourth time, hundreds of volunteers, members of community agencies and City staff will take to the streets and shelters to ask people experiencing homelessness about the services they need to get and keep permanent housing. Survey responses help the City shape improvements in current programs and plan for future service delivery. Residents whom are interested in volunteering during the evening of Thursday April 26th are welcome to visit the following webpage to learn more.

Residents Invited to Provide Input on City's Poverty Reduction Strategy

Toronto is a vibrant, prosperous city. It is also a city of growing disparity and inequity ­trends that will challenge its long-term success. That's why in October 2015, City Council unanimously adopted a 20-year plan that includes 17 recommendations focused at improving access to residents who face barriers related to affordable housing, social services, transit, food and quality jobs. The strategy and recommendations can be accessed here.

In the lead up to the strategy's three year launch, the City will be hosting a series of panel discussions to generate public input on the next phase of the City's poverty reduction strategy for the 2018 to 2022 term of City Council.  The #TacklePovertyTO panels will convene on five Monday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen St. W., starting March 12 and concluding April 23. The remaining panel discussions are as follows:

- April 16, City Hall rotunda – Transportation Equity: What are the next steps to achieve active and public transportation equity?
- April 23, City Hall rotunda: Housing Stability – What strategic actions can the City take to address the housing crisis?

You can also provide your input directly to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Office by emailing
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Hi-RIS Financing Program

Do you own an apartment building with three or more storeys in Toronto? Are you planning to increase energy efficiency, lower utility costs, and enhance tenant comfort?  If so, the City of Toronto’s Hi-RIS program is for you.

Funding is available for a range of improvements including:
- upgrades and replacement of mechanical systems
- lighting and water conservation retrofits
- building envelopment improvements and;
- renewable energy technology

Building owners can access low-cost, fixed rate financing with terms of up to 20 years. This funding is offered for a limited time so inquire soon!

Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 416-392-9688 for more information.

17th Annual Community Stewardship Program

The Community Stewardship Program gives residents the opportunity to learn about Toronto's ravines and how they're managed with hands-on activities to keep these places healthy. Volunteers, led by experienced City staff, meet weekly from May – September to plant native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, remove invasive species (a leading cause of biodiversity loss), maintain sustainable trails, and monitor site conditions through citizen science. I welcome volunteers to attend the volunteer orientation on Wednesday April 25th, from 7:00pm-8:30pm at the City of Toronto Archives. Email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to RSVP and to learn more!

Let LEAF Help You Create The Backyard You've Always Dreamed About

With support from the City of Toronto and Toronto Hydro, LEAF offers subsidized planting programs that help residents plant native trees and shrubs in their yards - all at a reasonable price!

LEAF will help you:
  • Assess the conditions in your yard
  • Understand what will grow best
  • Select trees, shrubs, and garden kits that you will love
  • Ensure everything gets planted properly
  • Do it all at a reasonable price
For more information and volunteer opportunities, I welcome you to visit this webpage.









   

Improvements to Pottery Playground

Construction will begin spring (2018) through mid-summer, and ready to enjoy by late summer (weather permitting)! Renderings of splash pad coming soon.

   

Glen Edyth Parkette Concept Plans

I'm excited to announce that improvements to Glen Edyth Parkette and Playground will commence this spring of 2018. Construction will take place through the summer, with the park being ready to enjoy by late summer (weather permitting).

 

 

 

   

Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground Improvement UPDATE

Dear residents,

 

Thank you to  everyone who has contributed to improving  Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground and June Rowlands Park. Whether you were able to participate by attending Tuesday night's meeting, or took the time to share your feedback through email, I appreciate all of the thoughtful insight comments and ideas on how we can make our community park even better! As you may recall, a few years ago, I named our playground in honour of Sharon, Lois & Bram to celebrate the beloved children's music trio and created the Music Garden as part of that celebration of their legacy and our community. There have been several improvements to the playground including: replacing the concrete stage with a wooden surface, adding a black gate to provide definition around the garden, a harvest table for gatherings and birthday parties, a community garden and several other features that I'm confident that you'll enjoy.

 

We certainly heard different opinions of what the vision for the Park should be. However, I respect how people at the meeting actively listened to each other to ensure that as many viewpoints as possible could be reflected in the park design.

 

Although there has been a community consultation process, including a public meeting that lead to what has been constructed so far, the decision to reengage the community about the playground improvements was the result of feedback I had heard after the play structure was completed late last year.  While I have heard positive comments from parents about how their children are enjoying the new structure, I also heard valid concerns centered around safety and that there was a lack of equipment geared towards younger children.

 

The City Parks Staff I invited to be in attendance at the meeting have presented creative and  feasible additions for both this upcoming spring season, and for 2019, based on the feedback we've provided.

 

Here's the summary of what was discussed at the meeting and what was resolved by consensus on how to move forward together.

 

For this Spring 2018

 

  • The City has available play equipment in storage that will provide more options for toddlers in the interim, until they will be replaced by Earthscape equipment in 2019.  Given the restriction on the play area space by mature trees, they were able to find several pieces that could be installed temporarily for this spring/summer season. This includes two spring toys and an elephant monkey bar set (see images below)
  • City staff will also construct new permanent toddler-friendly pieces including:
    • an elevated Alpine hut with steps and another small slide
    • An outdoor kitchen that will be placed in the sandbox

**Note, City Staff are able to apply a more earth tone paint colour to fit in with the other equipment

 

 

For 2019

  • We reengaged Earthscape and they have provided retrofits and additions that can be implemented in the existing space for next year. The elephant monkey bars and spring toys would be removed (alpine hut and kitchen remain), and would be replaced by:
    • A Climbing Net to provide easier access to tower platform and slide.
    • Additional hand-holds/ grab bars at tower platform entryway.
    • Post and Rope underneath existing horizontal logs
    • Climbing Hoops to be placed underneath existing horizontal logs.
    • Playground Sign explain the benefits of 'Risk Play'.
    • I have attached PDF renderings that were shown at the meeting of Earthscape's proposal

 

 

** There were also a number of creative ideas about additional retrofits to the structure that we will be consulting Earthscape about. When Earthscape provides us updated renderings and designs for additional retrofits and improvements, I plan to host a third meeting to further consult with the community. I will be certain to update you when details of the time, date and location have been secured.

 

Given the diversity of views amongst community members about what the playground design should look like, I've worked hard to ensure that these retrofits and additions serve to address as much feedback as possible that we've received about the play equipment. Ultimately, we all want our children to have an amazing place to play, and that all users feel included. Let's continue working together as a community.

 

Melissa, Molly and I hope to see you and your family at Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground soon!

 

Sincerely,

 

Josh

   

City Hall and Community Update for February 2, 2018

Remembering Mona Piper: Announcing our Community's new Mona Piper Playground

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Mona Piper on January 31, 2018 at the age of 88. Mona passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loved ones in Sunnybrook Hospital's palliative care unit.

Keeping children safe at the corner of Millwood and Cleveland for 43 years, Mona was the longest serving crossing guard in Toronto. She was very proud that in all her years of service not a single kid was hurt on her corner while she was on duty. She was recognized by MP Carolyn Bennett as an Outstanding Neighbour and was recognized for protecting children by the Provincial Minister of Education this past September.

Her last year was marked by health issues. She spent five months in hospital recovering from a broken leg and a stroke. Unable to perform her crossing guard duties in an official capacity, Mona still protected the neighbourhood children. After returning home from the hospital she sat on her porch, which overlooked the corner where she had worked, watching over local children just as she had for the past 43 years.

I am delighted to announce that the playground in our new community park on the Manor Road United Church site at the corner Forman and Manor Rd. will be named Mona Piper Playground.


A Museum of Toronto at Old City Hall!

Our campaign to finally establish a city museum of Toronto took a major step forward at Councilthis week as my colleagues voted to further develop a design and plans for Old City Hall that include a Museum of Toronto, in addition to a Toronto Public Library branch, and moving the wedding chamber currently at City Hall.

Since 2012, I have been actively working to establish a City of Toronto museum, first at Casa Loma's under-utilized North Campus. At that time, Old City Hall was not available as it was in active use as a Provincial Court House. However, the courts are due to move in 2021 and I believe Old City Hall is a more desirable place for this purpose from a geographic, historical, and functional perspective. Old City Hall is one of the few sites in Toronto recognized by the Federal government as having historical value. This is a National Historical Site and has been since 1984. Indeed, it was our city's seat of government from 1899 to 1966.

I am pleased that my colleagues supported my motion to save Old City Hall from becoming a mall in 2015 and, instead, have Staff investigate the feasibility of a city museum at this iconic site. 

The initiative to establish a city museum began with former Mayor David Crombie forty years ago, yet Toronto remains one of the few cities of its size and prominence without a dedicated space to tell its stories. It is a shame that the majority of Toronto's historical collection (comprised of over 1.3 million cultural artifacts and archaeological specimens) remains out of public view in warehouses.

Now that the incompatible court functions are no longer an impediment, we have a rare opportunity to finally move forward with housing a city museum in a building that truly merits showcasing Toronto's rich socio-cultural and architectural history.  

To see my speech to Council on this issue, please see this video
For more information, please see this article


Successfully Protecting Davisville Village's Heritage: Council approves heritage designation of 505 Balliol Street

It was brought to my attention by local residents that the owner of this historic house at 505 Balliol sought to demolish it. This architecturally and culturally significant house was constructed in 1889, and was later adapted to serve the community as grocery store until 1951.  

With the support of Heritage Preservation staff, I successfully moved a motion at Council to protect it under the Ontario Heritage Act. You can read more about how the community and I worked together protect this local landmark here.


We Need Relief (Subway Line) Now!

As many of you experienced first-hand, Toronto's already overcrowded subway system was thrown into chaos this week. The serious delays on Tuesday and Wednesday caused by signal errors, track problems, and other incidents, punctuated the need for the Relief Subway Line.

As any resident who rides the subway knows, the Yonge Line is already at capacity. During rush hour at stations like Eglinton it is common to wait for two or three trains before boarding and once on, you’re crammed in like a sardine.

The overcrowding is most critical at Bloor-Yonge station, which is already nearing capacity, with another 45% increase in users expected over the next twenty years. Even with signal improvements and the new, larger trains we can’t keep ahead of this growth without expansion elsewhere to alleviate the pressure. That's why the Relief Line was named as Toronto's top transit expansion priority by former Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, TTC CEO Andy Byford,  Toronto's Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and City Manager Joe Pennachetti .

City Council has unfortunately featured transit debates long on rhetoric and short on facts. The Relief Subway Line would provide an alternative to our existing subway system that’s already overcrowded during rush hours, curb gridlock on our city’s streets and increase access to jobs and attractions. It is the evidence-based subway expansion project that would be an integral part of a comprehensive network approach that would most improve Toronto’s economy and residents’ quality of life.

For more information and how to take action, please visit this webpage


Protecting our Natural Heritage: Vale of Avoca Masterplan moves forward

The Yellow Creek and Vale of Avoca are important parts of Midtown's natural environment. They allow us to escape the hustle and bustle of our big city without ever leaving it. Unfortunately, due to spills, degradation of the ravine slopes, and the natural course of time, Yellow Creek is in urgent need of maintenance.

Working closely with local residents, led by representatives of both the Summerhill Residents' Association and the Deer Park Residents' Group, Councillor Wong-Tam and I have written in the past to the City's Parks & Environment Committee, requesting a masterplan be created to support the restoration of Yellow Creek and the Vale of Avoca.

Councillor Wong-Tam and I put forward recommendations that were approved by Council to direct City Staff to evaluate the status of the ecological integrity of Yellow Creek and include an inventory, including the state of good repair, of existing facilities and features - including the trail network, invasive species and the health of the tree canopy, and identification of the departments or agencies responsible for implementing and maintaining these assets. This will be done in coordination with the Geomorphic Systems Master Plan Environmental Assessment and the recommendations of the Ravine Strategy.

Council also directed staff to do this evaluation in consultation with a working group comprised of relevant community stakeholders. Staff have also been directed to establish a timeline for the major works required, with the hope of also identifying immediate projects that the City, along with the community, can address immediately.

This push forward has been due in large part to the active stewardship by local residents, again led by the Summerhill Residents' Association and the Deer Park Residents' group. It has been my absolute pleasure to work with them, along with my colleague Councillor Wong-Tam.


Save the Regent Theatre! UPDATE

The iconic and historic Regent Theatre on Mt. Pleasant is under threat. Since learning that the 1927 heritage building was put up for sale, I have been working with local residents, representatives for the owner, and arts organizations to develop a plan for saving this important landmark.

Coming out of a very productive public meeting last week, I'm continuing to work with stakeholders to develop viable models to keep the theatre operating. Our goal is to ensure that any plan will include protecting the Regent Theatre's built form, as well as its cultural purpose, which contributes so much value to our community and city. Please keep following my community e-newsletter for future updates.


Yonge & St. Clair's Exciting Transformation Continues with New Business Improvement Area (BIA)

Yonge & St. Clair is currently undergoing a renaissance. I have been working with the local residents and businesses to create vibrant main streets by substantially improving the public realm with new planters and an iconic mural overlooking Scallywag's Patio. I am
happy to report that City Council supported the creation of a new BIA. I want to thank the local merchants who are working together to continue to improve Yonge and St. Clair's streetscape and it's re-emerging success. You can view the boundaries of the BIA and the Council item here.


Protecting Tenants' Rights – Important Meeting of the Tenant Issues Committee

As Chair of the City's Tenant Issues Committee, I advocate for renters across Toronto. Please feel welcome to attend our next meeting on Friday February 9th at 1:30pm in Committee Room 2 at City Hall where we will be looking at critical issues affecting housing in our city. I have provided the Agenda items below for your review. If you would like to make a deputation on any of these items please contact the Clerk -  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For your information, here are the priority items that will be on the agenda:

Toronto Fire Services – High Rise Residential Inspection Portal
In the wake of last year's Grenfell Tower Fire tragedy in London, I requested Toronto Fire Services to undertake a more transparent fire inspection process for tenants throughout our city. I was impressed with how quickly they delivered an online portal that allows tenants to review fire inspection results on currently 1541 high-rise apartment buildings. Toronto Fire Services will give a demonstration of their High Rise Residential Inspection Portal. Please read this article for more information.

Municipal Licensing and Standards – Update on Heat in Apartments
Last fall, many Midtown tenants suffered during a late September heatwave. Some residents reported temperature readings of over 30 degrees Celsius in their units as a result of their landlords turning on heat and/or not turning on air conditioning.

Landlords are currently required to ensure that the temperature in a rental unit not be lower than 21 degree Celsius, but that rue does not require a building's heating system to be on. Unfortunately, some landlords misinterpreted the City by-law and turned on the heat in their buildings. Others reported being concerned that if they turned off their heat and/or turned on their air conditioning that they could be fined should the temperature suddenly drop.

I asked landlords to use common sense when making these decisions and assured them that our by-law officers would do the same. A request was unfortunately the only tool I had available during this fall's heatwave. It is unacceptable that members of our community were baking in their apartments this past fall – everyone has the right to a comfortable and healthy home. That's why I'm eager to receive an update from City Staff on their response to my motion on better regulating room temperatures in apartment buildings.

For more information, please see this article.

City Planning – 2018 Rental Housing Market Conditions in Toronto

As many of you know, there is a rental housing crisis in Toronto. Vacancy rates have been hovering around 1% in the past year and very few of the limited apartments available are affordable.

City Planning will provide an overview of current conditions in Toronto's rental housing market. The presentation will review key data and trends in rents, vacancy rates, the stock of rental housing, proposed and under construction rental units, and other metrics to better understand the rental housing context in the City.

For more information on my work to improve affordability for renters, please see this article on ending unlimited rent increases in apartments built after 1991, and this information pamphlet on eliminating rent increases above the provincially mandated guideline.

Update on RentSafe TO –Apartment Building By-law
The new Tenant Protection by-law was passed by Council last spring to provide much needed protection for Toronto renters. The provisions of the by-law have been in force by July of this year.

This comprehensive new by-law includes several motions I moved to support tenants, including:

  • A “Rentsafe” rating program for buildings modelled off of the “Dinesafe” program for restaurants. This would require landlords to post a colour-coded sign that displays the City's rating in a prominent, publicly identifiable location, along with posting the same information on the City's website
  • Requesting that the Province grant the City the power to fine landlords for property standards violations
  • Establishing guidelines for when the Property Standards Committee can grant time extensions on work orders for violations and to limit those criteria to situations that are only extraordinary circumstances
  • Developing standard operating procedures for City enforcement officers which provide targeted timelines by violation category to bring landlords into compliance with City by-laws from the date an order is issued, and make the standards available to the public on the City website
  • Ensuring that landlords will not be able to rent vacant units if they have outstanding property orders in the building for vital services such as heat or water

Municipal Licensing and Standards Staff have audited every large apartment building in Toronto over the past year and will be providing an update to the Committee on their initial findings.

For more information on this ground-breaking legislation, please see this article.


PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: Consultation on Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan

In 2015, I helped initiate the Midtown in Focus review of growth, built form, social services and infrastructure issues in the Yonge-Eglinton area. I believe this work should've been done two decades ago, before the condo boom. After two years of intensive study by our dedicated City Planning Staff, we now will have an up-to-date policy that will guide growth in the area and, in combination with necessary improvements identified through the review, support the vitality and quality of life in Midtown Toronto.

The report, approved by Council late last year, tells the rest of Toronto what we as Midtown residents already know: social services and hard infrastructure have not kept pace with the rapid growth in our community. This has to change.

I successfully moved a motion with Councillor Robinson requesting City Planning to further support local residents by reporting on potential measures to help ensure that social services and physical infrastructure can accommodate existing and projected growth in the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan area. Please see below for the meeting details.

Date: Saturday, February 10, 2018
Time: 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM 
Location: North Toronto Collegiate Institute, Cafeteria, 17 Broadway Avenue
Workshop Schedule:
10:30-11:30: Proposed Secondary Plan / Parks and Public Realm
11:45-12:45: Community Services and Facilities / Transportation
1:15-2:15: Proposed Secondary Plan / Parks and Public Realm / Community Services and Facilities / Transportation

If you would like more information about the Open House or the study, please contact the Senior Planner at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 416-392-3529


Toronto-St. Paul's Roundtable on Homelessness

Please join me, my fellow elected officials and representatives from local organizations to participate in a round table discussion with an audience of community members on Sunday February 11th from 3:00pm-5:00pm at Holy Blossom Temple (1950 Bathurst Street, south of Eglinton) in the Philip Smith Congregational Room. Our aim is to engage, educate, and inspire the community members present to be part of the solution. I hope to see you there!


Community Skating Party with Josh Matlow, Rob Oliphant & Carolyn Bennett!

I'm excited to be co-hosting a community skating party with our local MPs, Rob Oliphant and Carolyn Bennett at Hodgson Ice Rink (East of Mt. Pleasant, entrance off Millwood/Harwood, behind Hodgson PS). 

Please join us from 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, February 4th for a fun, family-friendly afternoon with free coffee and hot chocolate.

I look forward to seeing you there!


PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: Making Further Improvements to June Rowlands (Davisville) Park

Last year, the City of Toronto constructed a new Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground at June Rowlands Park. This was done after a community consultation process that chose the new design. However, since the new playground was constructed, I've heard residents express concerns over the design, and request our playground include more features for younger children.

On Tuesday, February 20th at 7pm City Staff will be joining me at Greenwood College, Room 174 (443 Mount Pleasant Road) to discuss how we can further improve the playground design. Your thoughtful feedback throughout this process will help ensure the playground be inclusive of all users.


PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE: 368-386 Eglinton Avenue East Development Meeting

This development application proposes to amend the Zoning By-law to permit an 11-storey addition to an existing 13-storey rental apartment building. The proposed addition would add 96 new apartment units and 42 parking spaces. You can read the preliminary staff report here for more details about the proposal.

This public meeting will take place at 6:30pm on Wednesday, February 7 at the Best Western Roehampton Hotel (808 Mount Pleasant Road).

To speak to the planner directly, please contact Alex Teixeira at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 416-392-0459 . Also, you may mail your comments to the planner at Toronto and East York District, 100 Queen St W Floor 18 E Toronto On, M5H 2N2.


Toronto Seniors Forum Seeking New Members

The Toronto Seniors Forum is a diverse group of Toronto residents age 60 and above. The Forum is comprised of members who meet monthly to examine, advocate, and advise on seniors' issues that matter to older Torontonians. If you are interested in applying to become a new member, please review this flyer. Selected applicants will be invited for an interview for membership.


Have an innovative idea to reduce waste in your community?

Grants of up to $25,000 are available to support innovative community-based efforts to reduce residential waste and increase participation in Toronto's waste diversion programs. Priority for funding will be given to projects that reduce waste in apartments and condos. Examples of projects that could be eligible include waste education and engagement programs and initiatives that align with Toronto's Long Term Waste Management Strategy, such as the repair, exchange, swapping and sharing of goods. Applications close February 23, 2018. For more information and to submit an Expression of Interest click here.


Know Before You Throw! Ask the Waste Wizard

Don't know what to do with your old skates or plastic takeout containers? Unsure whether a certain item or type of packaging goes in the Blue Bin (recycling)? Not entirely clear on what is considered Green Bin (organics) material? When in doubt, ask the Waste Wizard, the City of Toronto's online search tool that provides information on how to properly dispose of over 2,000 items. It's quick and easy to use. Simply visit this webpage and type in the item you're wondering about.


Support Your Local Out of the Cold Program

For the past few years, volunteers at the apartment towers at 400 Walmer Road, supported by management, Vertica Resident Services, have been collecting and redeeming the liquor, wine and beer bottles and cans which the residents have discarded. The proceeds have been directed to the Out of the Cold program at St. Matthews United Church, on St. Clair Avenue. Although the 21 ‘Out of the Cold’ programs in Toronto run for 5 months, this is really a year-round effort, which cover a significant portion of the cost of food for the guests. This is an ideal project for apartment residents who wish to support their local Out of the Cold program. For further information, contact outofthecold.400walmer@gmail


St. Cuthbert's Annual Pancake Supper

Please join my friends at St. Cuthbert's Church for their annual pancake supper held in their Lamb Hall from 5:30pm-7:15pm on Tuesday, February 13th. Tickets can be purchased after the 8:00am or 10:00am Sunday service on February 4th, and 11th or from the Parish Office 9:00am-1:00pm Tuesday – Friday. For more information, please click here.


Programs & Classes Available at Our Local Libraries

Do you love to read or want to join a yoga class? I welcome you to check-out the following webpage to review all the programs and classes that are available during the months of February and March at Deer Park and Mt. Pleasant Toronto Public Libraries.

   

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Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 187

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 187

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 187

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 187

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 187

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 187

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 187

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 187

Warning: Illegal string offset 'active' in H:\root\home\ryananthony-001\www\joshmatlowca\templates\rt_infuse_j15\html\pagination.php on line 199

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