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Delivering Results

Saving our City's Sam the Record Man Signs

I am delighted to report that a location has been finalized for the beloved Sam the Record Man Signs to once again illuminate our city's downtown streetscape. Earlier this month, City Council approved an amendment to the agreement between the City of Toronto and Ryerson University (initially the signs were to be located on Ryerson's new Student Centre) to place the signs atop the existing building at 277 Victoria Street. From this location, the signs will be a crowning addition to dynamic lights and sounds of Yonge & Dundas Square.

 

I went one step further to ensure the display of the Sam the Record Man signs in perpetuity, by successfully moving a motion requiring that any subsequent developer/owner of 277 Victoria Street also undertake ownership, maintenance and display of this important piece of our city's cultural heritage.

 

For more information on the Sam's Signs, please see this excellent article in CityLab for The Atlantic: Saving Sam the Record Man's Giant Spinning Discs.

   

Funding Restored for Tenants Defence Fund

The City’s Outreach and Organizing Program helps tenant groups to organize and prepare for hearings at the Landlord and Tenant Board for rent increase disputes, or at the Ontario Municipal Board for demolitions and condo conversion matters. Unfortunately this program was cut a few years ago, leaving many tenants without effective representation. After several years of hard work to restore funding, I successfully moved a motion to renew this program as part of the 2014 Budget to help ensure that renters are protected against unfair rent increases.

   

POPS: Securing Privately Owned Publicly-Accessible Spaces

As Toronto’s population grows, we must ensure that our urban parks, plazas and squares are publicly-accessible. That’s why I’m pleased that City Planning is moving forward with my initiative to help protect and promote Toronto’s privately owned publicly-accessible spaces (POPS) that have been secured by the City of Toronto for your use. There are dozens of POPS throughout the Midtown and Downtown areas that are poorly used. Clear signage at the entrance to open spaces - along with an interactive, online map - let people know they have the same right to relax, eat their lunch or read in that space as they would at any City park. Thanks to this initiative, you’ll most likely see a new POPS sign at a creative open space in your neighbourhood soon.

   

New Traffic Lights Approved at Roehampton and Yonge

The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee recently approved new traffic lights for Yonge Street and Roehampton Aveneue (which will be synchronized with the existing lights on Yonge Street at Eglinton and Broadway).The installation of these lights will enhance safety for pedestrians and motorists at this intersection. These lights were initially recommended by Transportation Services staff during the site plan review and approval for the development of 2263 to 2287 Yonge Street, 8 to 10 Eglinton Avenue, and 25 and 25R Roehampton, and will be installed once construction is complete. I asked City staff to proceed with the approval sooner, so that pedestrian safety can be enhanced during the lengthy construction process. I will continue to push staff to have these lights installed as quickly as possible. Final approval of the lights took place at City Council in July 2014.

   

Ward 22's First Community Garden

In April 2012, I held a participatory budgeting meeting asking residents of the Brentwood Towers, Deer Park and Chaplin Estates how they would like to allocate developer funds to improve Oriole Park. The local community voted to direct these Section 37 funds toward a community garden. I am happy to report that my motion to deliver this funding was approved this year by Council. Construction of the garden began in April 2014, in time for the gardening season, and we celebrated the opening of the garden on May 24, 2014.

   

Ward 22 Parks Improvements

I have been working closely with parents throughout Ward 22 on improvements to our local parks. This includes soccer nets at Lionel Conacher Park (to be installed in 2014), and new, exciting playground upgrades for Forest Hill Road Park and Charlotte Maher Park (both to be completed this fall). Other additions will include a trellis-covered seating area, lit pathways and planted gardens at Robertson Davies Park, and new seating at the Mission Ground on Merton Street. I have also worked with parents who requested a swing set at the Pottery Playground on Merton Street; my motion was approved by City Council on June 11, 2014.

   

Safe and Accessible Crossings for the Beltline Trail

Many trail users have expressed their concerns regarding the lack of safe pedestrian-cyclist crossings where the Beltline meets Oriole Parkway and Avenue Road. Currently there is no safe crossing point that allows the trail to be truly contiguous for residents. Last year, I requested City Staff to report to Community Council with viable options to install signalized crossings at these locations that are synchronized with the existing signalized intersections. Staff recommendations to install a signalized crossing on Avenue Road south of Chaplin Crescent (to be completed in fall 2014) and replace the existing traffic median on Oriole Parkway with a pedestrian-cyclist refuge island (to be completed in 2016) have been approved by both Community Council and City Council.

   

New Kay Gardner Beltline Murals

Last year, the Friends of the Beltline commissioned wonderful new murals for the Beltline Trail on the Eglinton Avenue underpass. I joined the group and the mural artists for the official celebration last year. The murals highlight the unique rail history of the Beltline Trail, along with its current uses.

 

Art students at Greenwood College School also worked on a new mural for the Beltline Trail on the Mount Pleasant Road underpass. The students and I hosted a community consultation meeting on April 16, 2014, regarding their work and the mural was completed this spring.

   

Improvements to the Median Parkettes on Belsize Drive

Glebe Manor Square and the Belsize Parkette will be receiving improvements such as tree planting (to increase forest canopy) and regenerating the well worn paths. A second community consultation meeting for these parks was held in Spring 2014.

   

Saving the Hodgson Outdoor Artificial Ice Rink

The Hodgson artificial ice rink was closed this year as a result of two ammonia leaks in two years. The Hodgson rink was over 30 years old and there is no doubt that it’s infrastructure needed to be completely replaced. With the rink closed, I worked closely with many dedicated parents to build a natural ice rink nearby at June Rowlands (Davisville) Park. While this rink was a great success, it did not replace having a reliable artificial rink in our neighbourhood. The rink is operated by the City on land owned by the TDSB. I worked with Trustee Laskin to ensure the City moved forward with securing funding and tendering a contract to refurbish and upgrade the rink, and that the facility would continue to be located at Hodgson Senior Public School.

   

Sharon, Lois & Bram Playground

I’m delighted to report that my motion was approved to name the playground at June Rowlands Park in honour of the celebrated, Toronto-based children’s music and entertainment trio, Sharon, Lois & Bram. The official playground sign was appropriately created in the shape of an elephant. This May 10, we celebrated the playground naming ceremony with a live performance by the trio.

   

Motion to Stop Unfair Rent Increases Supported at Council

Our community's campaign to stop unfair rent increases has kicked into high gear. My motion to request the province to eliminate Above the Guideline Increases (AGIs) for basic upkeep and repairs passed Council in February 2014. Please read this Toronto Star article for more information and to learn how you can take action against spiraling rent increases and unexpected fees, please visit my page on AGIs.

   

Youth Equity Strategy

Update on Addressing the Roots of Youth Violence: I am pleased to announce that, after nearly a year since I first moved a motion at Council to create this strategy, the final report to address the roots of youth violence, titled the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, was supported unanimously by my colleagues at Council in February 2014. This comprehensive report contains 110 recommended actions to support our most vulnerable youth.

 

I look forward to seeing the thoughtful and proactive measures to deal with youth violence implemented in community centres, libraries and TCHC facilities across Toronto. The staff-recommended initiatives to assist our city's most vulnerable youth include mental supports, employment training and crime diversion programs in targeted areas. This strategy also uses every dollar allocated to these programs in a more efficient, deliberate and focused way to get the best result for at-risk youth.

   

A Factual, Non-Partisan City of Toronto Press Release Boilerplate

In November 2012, I requested that the City of Toronto news release boilerplate -- the standard text that follows each official City news release -- be revised to remove the inappropriately ideological partisan, and politically aspirational (rather than factual) content which purported to speak for City Council without the authority to do so.

 

The most troubling line of the boilerplate was: "Toronto's government is dedicated to delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city." Toronto's government is City Council, but I am confident that Council did not endorse this sentiment. Rather than serving as a political weathervane, the official boilerplate describing our city ought to reflect the fundamental characteristics and qualities of Toronto that we can all agree on.

 

Following a year of obstruction by the Mayor's office, City Council approved a factual, non-partisan boilerplate and delegated authority to the City Manager (instead of the Mayor) to make factual updates as necessary, such as revising the City's population as it grows. Here is the approved text:

 

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people.  It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world's most livable cities.  Toronto is proud to be the Host City for the 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games.  For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit www.toronto.ca, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @torontocomms.

   

Toronto is now a Food and Water First City

Toronto residents are privileged to live at the centre of a vital agricultural sector that provides us with a diverse basket of goods including the fresh food in our farmers markets, many staples in our supermarkets, and wines in the LCBO. The agricultural sector also supports a large number of workers in Toronto in the food processing and tourism industries, and healthy agricultural lands help to clean our air and water.

 

Despite these clear benefits to our City and Province, the agricultural sector is currently under threat from urban and industrial developments that consume or degrade the valuable, irreplaceable Class 1 farmland around Toronto. As recipients of these benefits, we have a responsibility to speak up in defence of the agricultural sector. In recent years, a coalition of farmers and urban residents including many Torontonians demonstrated the effectiveness of our advocacy by stopping the Melancthon “Mega Quarry” which would have destroyed 2,300 acres of Class 1 farmland and threatened the water table at the headwaters of many local rivers.

 

I was very happy to successfully move a motion in October 2013 to add Toronto's important voice to the many residents and Ontario municipalities who care about putting Food and Water First, protecting our region's agricultural lands.

 


   

Toronto's First Age-Friendly Grocery Guide

In the spirit of the new City of Toronto Seniors Strategy -- a proactive, holistic and inclusive initiative that seeks to create a truly accessible, respectful and age-friendly Toronto -- I've prepared Toronto's first age-friendly guide to help connect older adults with local businesses that provide age-friendly services including deliveries, discounts and many other accommodations.

You can download the guide as a PDF file and print it from your home computer or the library. You can also view it in your web browser as an image by clicking here. And please feel very welcome to call me at 416 392 7906 if you are unable to print the guide and I will send one to you in the mail.

   

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.

   

New Ping Pong Table for June Rowlands Park

After receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from local residents, I brought forward a motion that passed at Council 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.

 

The table has been installed by the playground near the south-west corner of the park.

   

Demanding Honest Advertising for Condo Developments

At the beginning of the application review process for a new condo, local residents are generally confronted with on-site, billboard, print and other advertising depicting a building that will be "coming soon" with no mention of a municipal approval process, opportunity for citizen input or that the rendering can be altered. This misleading advertising suppresses local engagement by giving the impression that the application is a "done deal".

 

To help address this problem I moved a motion at City Council, entitled A Picture Tells Too Many Stories: Honest Advertising for Proposed Developments, which requests that the province require developers to state that applications are subject to the approval of the City of Toronto in their advertising.

   

Traffic Signal Synchronization

In June 2013, my colleagues 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.

 

Please click here to read more about my efforts to fight gridlock

   
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